3 Google Keyword Planner Alternatives for Keyword Research (Plus One Trick to Get Search Volume Data Again)

Getting annoyed by Google’s recent decision to stop showing the exact search volume data in Keyword Planner for low-spending Adwords advertisers?

Or put it in another way:

Google has just stopped 95% of SEOs (who never spent a dime on Adwords) from accessing their valuable search volume data for free with this recent change.

Sad news? Yes.

But here’s the truth:

More...

Keyword Planner was not designed for us, SEOs, anyway. Yet SEO tool providers have been using different methods to scrape Keyword Planner’s data for years, causing significant resource burden on Google’s part.

We’re talking about billions of data rows being freely scraped per month by all the SEO and keyword research tools combined.

So, it makes sense that Google had to find a way to reduce these massive leaks of resources (they didn’t officially claim this to be the reason. I just guessed it).

Fortunately, Google Keyword Planner is not the only tool that can provide you with search volume data.

In fact, I’ve not been using Google Keyword Planner for quite a long time and, so far, my keyword research have not been affected at all after this update.

In this article, I’ll be covering both free and paid alternatives that I’m currently using for keyword research.

A Quick Fix If You’re Still Missing Keyword Planner

If your keyword research process deeply involves Keyword Planner and you don’t want to switch to new tools, then here’s a simple trick that I’ve found to get back your exact search volume data.

Just know that, however, this is just a temporary workaround and Google will eventually roll out a new update to fix it. Here are the steps:

Step 1. Visit this link and sign up for a new Google Adwords Manager Account.​

Step 2. Fill in the necessary information like below. Remember to use a new email address that has not been used for another Adwords account.

Step 3. Link your old account (as a client) with the new manager account. Click on the red “Accounts” button, click on “Link existing accounts”, then enter your old account’s customer ID and hit “Continue”.

Here’s where you can find your customer ID:

Step 4. Go back to your old account and click on the cogwheel at the top right hand. Choose “Account Settings” and then click on “Account Access” in the left hand menu.

Now you’ll see a new access request under “Client Managers” from your new Google Adwords Manager Account. Click “Accept Request” and you’re done.

Step 5. Now go back to your manager account and you’ll see that your old account has been already added as a new client. Click on the account name and you’ll be directed to a new page, which should look very familiar to you.

Navigate to Keyword Planner and use it as you normally do. It should be showing the exact search volume again now.

Important: This only works if you access your old account by clicking on its account name inside your manager account. If you log in directly, your old account should still be showing ranges.

As I said above, I honestly think this trick will soon be fixed, so let’s take a look at a list of my favorite Keyword Planner alternatives.

3 Google Keyword Planner Alternatives to Try

1. Ahrefs

Started as a backlink checker in 2011, Ahrefs has gradually been evolving into an excellent suite of tools that can help you execute 99% of your SEO tasks.

In fact, me and my team currently are currently using Ahrefs every day and it’s fair to say that we couldn’t operate our SEO process without it.

Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer looks pretty simple at first glance, showing a list of keywords and a few metrics for each one.T

The Keyword Difficulty (KD) score is the most useful as it can help you quickly filter out competitive keywords and keep only the ones you can actually rank for.

It’s pretty similar to Long Tail Pro’s KC in term of usability, but Ahrefs has their own way to calculate the number.

One big advantage of KD is that it’s already calculated and updated frequently for all keywords in Ahrefs’ database which means you don’t need to manually calculate the metric one by one for each individual keyword.

You can read more about how Ahrefs calculate the KD metric here and here.

If you just want to know the KD range that can be considered easy to rank for, then my general answer is KD of 0 - 10.

The one and only setback for a lot of people is that Ahrefs comes with a little higher price tag. The lowest plan that allows you to use Keywords Explorer with full functionality is currently at $179 / month.

But, in my opinion, that is actually a good deal since Ahrefs can replace a lot of the important SEO tools like:​

  • Long Tail Pro - Starts at $25 / month
  • Semrush - Starts at $69.95 / month
  • Buzzsumo - Starts at $99 / month
  • Keyword Rank Tracker - Ahrefs allows you to track 1000 keywords which can easily cost $100 / month with other tools.
  • Site Auditor for Onpage SEO - Starts at $27 / month

As you can see the cost for each tool individually really adds up fast and with Ahrefs you get the same functionality for half the price.

2. KWFinder

KWFinder is new to the market, but it’s a really good choice for a few reasons:

  1. It’s cloud based and doesn’t require you to login to Adwords.
  2. It’s super fast and easy to use. Honestly, KWFinder has the best UI / UX I’ve ever seen for a keyword research tool. It gives you everything you need to look at with a simple click.
  3. It also has a Keyword Difficulty score - I haven’t tested this number intensively, but from what I’ve analyzed so far it’s fairly accurate too.
  4. It’s very affordable - Free Plan is available (with very limited usage) and paid plan starts at $29 / month.​

3. Keyword Keg

This cool little tool does what Keyword Planner could do plus more, as it pulls data from 9 external data sources like Amazon, Youtube, Wikipedia, etc.

It also has a very useful filter to help you categorize keywords based on different modifiers.

It’s important to note that this tool doesn’t have competition analysis feature like Ahrefs or KWFinder, so you will need to manually check competition or use another tool for that.

Additionally, Keyword KEG offers a free Chrome extension which allows you to add the Search Volume column to a wide range of supported websites like:

  • Google Analytics
  • Ubersuggest.io
  • Answer the public
  • Google Webmaster Tools etc.

This is quite handy and could save quite a bit of time. If you only need to check the search volume for your keywords, then this is the right choice.

Other than that, I still recommend either Ahrefs or KWFinder.

Conclusion

With all the recent changes, it’s obvious that free keyword research is no longer possible and you’ll need to invest in some type of tool in order to do keyword research effectively.

While that’s a sad news for those with a lower budget, it’s inevitable and is something that we all have to adapt to as online marketers.

The SEO industry is constantly changing and evolving. People who fail to adapt wouldn’t survive.

What’s your favorite Keyword Planner alternative?​ 

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 37 comments
Alex - September 19, 2016

I have heard of Keyword Revealer being a good alternative. Do you have any comments on that? Or is KWFinder better?

Reply
Jon Haver - September 19, 2016

Great post Tung, very useful tips! I use SEMRush a lot as my backup Keyword Research tool to LTP as my primary. Another great tool is SE Cockpit but it is pretty expensive!

Reply
    Tung Tran - September 19, 2016

    Thanks Jon! Yeah I used to use Semrush a lot too but Ahrefs replaced it with a similar feature. Never tried SE Cockpit but heard only good things about it. How do you feel about LTP new cloud version? I think it’s buggy and slow as hell so I’m not recommending it.

    Reply
      GB - September 20, 2016

      LTP turned into the kind of tool it was originally launched to compete with. Slow and bloated. Even before any part of it was sold to Wired Investors. After version 3.0 it was steadily going downhill in terms of speed, stability and bugs.

      I’m grateful to Spencer for creating it. But selling it to the No Hat Digital/Hayden & Co stable was the final blow it needed to keel over. They’re great at scaling and crunching numbers, but they’re bad product owners. Way too focused on numbers instead of quality, just like traditional investors.

      “LTP in the cloud” is based on their Authority Metrics keyword tool that still wasn’t working properly a year after its release. It also had no visible or noticeable work done on it after launch in my opinion, despite multiple bug feedback submissions. The Localized Academy course offered by Han (at the time at least part of Hayden & co) in January 2015 was never even finished with 17 videos still missing to this day.

      I love them all to bits for the knowledge NHD/Hayden shared about PBNs and scaling websites. But as product owners/service providers… no.

      This is about the third time I’ve tried sharing this information. It wasn’t appreciated or published on Wired Investors, Long Tail Pro Blog or Niche Pursuits. That says enough. With the exception of the earlier sentence that inclused “in my opinion” these are the facts as a customer and user of all mentioned products.

      For now I’m focusing on an authority site in a niche I’ve already proven to be a good one. Keywordshitter.com is great for getting a ton of prefix and suffix keyword suggestions that you can then run through other tools for volume and difficulty if you want. Just a shame they only have automatic language/country detection and not a manual option.

      And when I need a keyword tool again, it’ll be AHREFS. They’ve been doing some great stuff for the online marketing community and have constantly been improving.

      I hope this comment will find a place on your blog, Tung.

      Reply
        Tung Tran - September 20, 2016

        Yeah I agreed. I’m actually a good friend with Nate who founded Authority Metrics and he stopped selling it before it was too much work for him to fix the tool.

        Reply
jesus - September 19, 2016

Nice research Tung ,

I I never heard of Keyword KEG , looks very promising .

By the way the Adwords Manager works very well for me ether.

Thanks…

Reply
Tuyen Tran - September 19, 2016

Happy to see this post, Tung. I will definitely try them all

Reply
Michiel - September 19, 2016

Great article Tung! Yes, it’s a pity Google limited access to their keyword tool, but it only makes sense as the free scraping by all those SEO tools will be demanding on their servers. I have a lifetime platinum subscription to Longtail Pro, but that’s not usable at the moment without an active Adwords account running campaigns. They’re looking into a fix though getting data from elsewhere. These are some good alternatives in your article!

Reply
Joinal abden - September 19, 2016

Hello,

Today I got your website and following you.:)

Thanks for your nice article

Best Regards!

Reply
Harun - September 19, 2016

Thanks for the article!
Im very happy to see that someone mentioned Ahrefs ( finally ) as one of the best KW research tool. Been using some other tools mentioned in your post and for me Ahrefs is by far the best tool among those other ones in the article. I think that Tim should be doing a better marketing!

Reply
Billal Sarker - September 19, 2016

Good idea. Thanks for the nice guideline on new update of google. But one problem I’ve seen in ahrefs: ahrefs don’t update statistics regularly.

Reply
Samsul Arefin - September 20, 2016

Nice post Tung!
Those tools you mention are awesome but I think, nothing beats semrush for keyword research.

Reply
Danial Ashrafi - September 20, 2016

Thats the perfect timing for this post when everyone is facing this GKP issue.

also can you give me your email address my frined #Hammad Rafique want to ask you something about his amazon website issue (i hope he will read this comment later, currently he is not able to view your site due to some technical reason on his end)

Thank YOU

Reply
Sinau - September 20, 2016

Hi, Tung. Have you tried http://keysearch.co/ ? its similar to kwfinder. I have used its trial

Reply
Chaitu - September 20, 2016

Very useful post Tung.I will try to create Google adwords Manager account and follow the process mentioned.Hopefully it works out.

SEMRUSH looks too good to me but still feel costly as I’m just a starter.I use free features just to see some basic details like how many keywords my site or other sites are ranking for and all.

But KWFinder is too good and fast too.I’m currently in free plan and planning to convert that to starter plan soon. Thanks.

Reply
Jake - September 20, 2016

Good stuff Tung. I like the KW finder tool. If they used Ahrefs for the external link check I would be a client with no hesitation. For now I will stick to the highlighted additional account method, and maybe an alternative source down the road…

Reply
Hillary - September 20, 2016

Hi Tung,

I’ve been using KWFinder for few weeks now. It compares pretty well to LTP, but KWF makes things a lot simpler in that it is cloud based (no installing stuff) and there’s no need to log into Moz/ KWP/ etc.

I’ll try ahrefs when I have some extra cash:) Thanks for sharing.

Reply
Hamza Butt - September 21, 2016

Thanks a lot for the informative post Tung. I was looking for something like this for days.

And I also have an off-topic question about the scholarship program you started on Thanksyourskin. I just wanted to know:

1) How do you pay the winners? Paypal or cheques?

2) If you pay them through Paypal, do you pay the student or the University? If you pay the University, do you ask for their paypal address in the outreach?

Looking forward to your reply.

Reply
Tommy - September 21, 2016

Good timing on this post. I think SEMrush may provide the best value as a keyword research tool and competitor research tool. I will also look more into Ahrefs, but it does appear costly if you don’t need a lot of data.

I no longer use LTP, it got too slow for me.

Reply
EE - September 22, 2016

Holy moly it worked.

Reply
Mark Folly - September 22, 2016

Hi guys, great article! I’ve been using KWFinder.com for some time and it’s my favourite tool so far. I definitely recommend it 🙂

Reply
Omar Al-banna - September 26, 2016

Hi Tung

do you think changing from LTP and Semrush to Ahrefs are batter
I see that LTP data start to jump from search to search and number not accurate with the old one

thanks

Reply
Efrain Avelar - September 29, 2016

Tung buddy great post I have been doing lots of lookin around for tools ahref will become all in one complete tool kwfinder works great semrush needs to catch up for long tail pro it’s pretty much out the door tool no comment on keyword planner it always about algorithms ThankYou!!! tung

Reply
Doug Beney - October 1, 2016

If anyone still wants to use Google’s Keyword Planner, and the trick mentioned in the beginning of the article doesn’t work out, a trick I found was to create a $1 ad campaign for 1-2 days. When you go to pause/delete the ad campaign, you will still have access to the accurate data in the Keyword Planner.

Reply
Richard Patey - October 2, 2016

Great write up Tung, not looked at this since my SEO retainer / moz.com days, looks like I need to invest in Ahrefs next for my authority sites.

Cheers!

Richard

Reply
screw - October 6, 2016

First of all I would like to say superb blog! I hhad
a quick question which I’d like too ask if you don’t mind.

I was curious to know how you center yourself and clear your
heaqd prior to writing. I have had difficulty clearing my mind
in getting my ideas out there. I truly do enjy writing but
itt just seems like the first 10 to 15minutes aare usually llost jus trying too figure out how to begin. Any suggestions or tips?
Many thanks!

Reply
Yoanna K. - October 12, 2016

Hey Tung, your article is very helpful. I am familiar with Ahrefs and can say that it works perfect and provide comprehensive statistic and great analysis.
I’m ashamed to admit, that I haven’t used the other two alternatives – KWFinder and Keyword Keg. Maybe it’s time to try something new.

Reply
Adrian - October 30, 2016

Hey Tung. Nice article but the Google Manager fix is not working for me :/ Any ideas or you aware of an update of some kind? Thanks

Reply
Cat 2k - December 21, 2016

Well, curated list. Thanks for gathering these tools. It is very helpful. I had used the tool like kwfinder. Would like to use the remaining tools.

Reply
Rahul Sukhija - April 9, 2017

I have only tried keyword planner uptil now, definitely try aherfs now. Thanks for sharing 🙂

Reply

Leave a Reply: