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:


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 to Google Keyword Tool 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.​

google manager 1

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.

google manager 2

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”.

google manager 3

Here’s where you can find your customer ID:

google manager 4

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.

google manager 5

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.

google manager 6

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

ahrefs homepage

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.

ahrefs keywords

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 now one of the big players on the market, and it's a really good choice for a few reasons:

  1. It’s cloud-based and doesn’t require you to log into 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. It's one of the most important metrics you should consider when doing keyword research. The higher is the keyword difficulty, the harder it is to rank on the 1st SERP due to high competition of the ranking websites. I haven’t tested this number intensively, but from what I’ve analyzed so far it’s fairly accurate too.

  4. Compared to other tools, it’s very affordable - You can try a 10-day FREE trial (with limited usage) or a paid plan starts at $30 / month.


3. Keyword Keg

Screen Shot 2016 09 19 at 9.07.01 PM

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.


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?​ 

Tung Tran

I’ve built and sold a bunch of highly profitable internet businesses since 2010. After selling my last one in November 2020, I decided to go all... [Read full bio]