Use our list of the top 10 PPC keyword research tools to find the best one for your PPC campaigns. We’ve also laid out the pros, cons, and expert tips to get the most out of each tool.
The best PPC keyword research tools:
- 1. Google Keyword Planner
- 2. SEMrush
- 3. Ahrefs
- 4. Moz
- 5. Spy Fu
- 6. Ubersuggest
- 7. Keyword Tool
- 8. Wordstream
- 9. Microsoft Keyword Planner
- 10. Answer The Public
When it comes to PPC keyword research tools, you’ve got a lot of options. As a result, choosing the right keyword research tool can feel like an impossible task.
We’re making that decision a little easier for you by diving into all our favorite PPC research tools, giving you all the insights you need to choose the right tool to help you discover the best keyword ideas for your PPC campaigns.
10 best PPC keyword research tools
Below are the top 10 PPC keyword research tools, according to our PPC consultants. You’ll find what the tools are best used for, key features, pros, cons, pricing, and an expert tip to get the most out of each tool.
1. Google Keyword Planner
Google Ads Keyword Planner is one of the best free keyword research tools out there. Not only is this tool built by Google — the largest digital ad platform — but it’s also free forever, even if you aren’t actively buying Google ads. (Though you do have to have a Google AdWords account to use it.)
Use this tool during brainstorming to search for new keywords and ad group ideas. You’ll get data for each keyword, including Google search volume, Google trends, competition level, and cost-per-click estimates.
This tool also integrates directly with Google Ads, making it easy to streamline your PPC ad campaigns.
Brainstorming keyword ideas in the early stages
- Keyword research and discovery
- Keyword bid estimates
- Ad group suggestions based on your keywords
- In-depth research on search volume and forecasting
- Data on search trends over 3 months
- Advanced keyword filtering based on attribute
- Localized keyword data based on geographic segmentation
- Free forever
- Integrates directly with Google Ads
- Also works for SEO keywords for organic search
- Lacks data visualization tools
- Only shows data for Google search, not other PPC platforms
- Not great for long-tail keyword research
Google Ads Keyword Planner is free to use forever for everyone with a Google Ads account, even if you’re not actively buying Google ads.
Use the refine keywords tool to filter keywords for specific related attributes. For instance, if we search for the keyword “leather boots,” we can refine the keywords based on attributes like brands, type of shoe, gender, color, sock style, material, animal, and others.
Refining your keywords allows you to find the most specific and relevant keyword ideas for your Google Ads campaigns.
Semrush is an online visibility management and content marketing platform. (In other words, it does a whole lot more than just keyword research!) The platform features over 40 tools for SEO, content marketing, market research, social media, and advertising.
For PPC keyword research, Semrush offers the following tools:
- Keyword Magic Tool: Deep dive into keywords with metrics like search volume, trend data, keyword difficulty, cost-per-click (CPC), and total number of SERP results.
- Keyword Manager: Save, organize, and manage up to 1,000 keywords with the option to refresh metrics for the most current data.
- PPC Keyword Tool: Organize PPC keywords at the campaign and ad group level with local volume and CPC data to the city level.
- Keyword Gap: Discover gaps and ranking opportunities by comparing your keyword profile to your competitors.
This robust toolkit is perfect for advanced keyword research but could be overwhelming for those who are new to PPC.
PPC experts, digital marketing agencies, and enterprise organizations that need to do advanced keyword research
- Keyword research with up to 1,000 keywords at one time
- Keyword management including refreshing data and sending data to other PPC tools
- In-depth competitor keyword analysis
- Up-to-date search metrics like search volume, search trends, and CPC
- Keyword difficulty based on keyword intent and top-ranking backlinks
- Keyword intent for informational, navigational, commercial, or transactional keywords
- Recommendations for removing unnecessary prepositions, articles, or other irrelevant modifiers
- Keyword list optimization with duplicate keyword removal and cross-matching for negative keywords
- Wealth of tools to use across your marketing campaigns, not just PPC
- Has additional PPC features like AI ad copy generator and ad assistant with real-time alerts about ad accounts and campaigns
- Competitor analysis that makes it easy to spot new opportunities
- Can be pricey for small businesses and individual consultants
- Not very user-friendly, especially for those who are new to PPC
- Only allows for one user (must pay for each additional user)
Semrush has a limited free plan. Paid plans run from $129.95/month to $499.95/month, depending on the account type.
If you are using the broad or modified broad keyword match types in your campaigns, you want to cross-match keywords to avoid overlaps that cause your ads to compete against each other (which increases the CPC).
Using the Cross-Group Negatives feature, you can automatically add negative keywords to your groups to avoid duplication.
This feature will save you hours of time that you would have spent manually cross-matching keywords. It’s especially helpful when you’re managing big campaigns.
While Ahrefs started as a backlink analysis tool, it’s grown into a full-fledged SEO tool with advanced features for PPC keyword research. With this all-in-one SEO tool, you can also analyze your competitors, audit and optimize your website, find new content ideas, and track your SEO rankings.
What makes Ahrefs unique is the sheer volume of data it collects. As one of the most active web crawlers in the SEO industry, it crawls 5 million pages every minute. It has a total keyword index size of 20.4 billion keywords across 216 locations.
And according to one report, Ahrefs data and metrics are the most trusted in the industry. That means that you’re not only benefiting from the largest database of keywords, but it’s also one of the most up-to-date.
PPC experts looking for an all-in-one SEO and PPC tool and those who want to do advanced functionality
- Keyword research with up to 10,000 target keywords at once
- Advanced keyword filters — KD, volume, word count, SERP features, include, exclude, clicks, clicks per search, CPC, and return rate
- Advanced metrics like clicks, clicks per search, % of clicks, % of paid vs organic clicks, and return rate
- Keyword lists to save, organize, and manage keywords groups
- Competitor research and content gap analysis
- Site audit tool can help you optimize landing pages and other site elements that might impact PPC conversions
- Processes data from 9 different search engines (not just Google!)
- Large database of more than 7 billion keywords
- Supports 171 countries with Keywords Explorer data
- Can be pricey for small businesses and independent marketers
- Amount of data and features can be overwhelming for beginners
- Have to pay for a Standard plan or higher to get fresh SERP updates
Ahrefs does have a free Keyword Generator with limited features. The Lite plan starts at $99/month and goes up to the Enterprise plan at $999/month.
Are you running different ad formats across platforms besides Google? Using clickstream data, Ahrefs can provide keyword data for your search campaigns across platforms.
Use the dropdown to choose which search engine you want keyword research data for, and you can do all your PPC keyword research using this one tool. Get keyword suggestions and data for YouTube, Amazon, Bing, Yahoo, and more.
Moz is well-known in the SEO world for creating industry-leading tools and resources. Their Moz Pro platform hosts the Keyword Explorer for keyword research, but it also offers rank tracking, site audit, on-page optimization, link opportunities, and custom reporting.
One of their unique features is the Keyword Priority score. The score is calculated using a number of different metrics, including search volume, keyword difficulty, and organic CTR. It gives you a priority score out of 100 for finding the sweet spot between higher volume and lower difficulty keywords.
Moz also offers free SEO tools, including the Keyword Explorer too,l with some limits to the number of search terms you can explore. However, the free keyword research tool does not provide CPC metrics.
Beginner and intermediate PPC and marketing professionals that don’t need (or may be overwhelmed by) an advanced feature set
- 1.25 billion keyword suggestions with 180 million fresh ranking keywords
- Keyword metrics like search volume
- Sort by predictive keyword metrics, keyword difficulty, and organic CTR
- Competitive keyword analysis
- Keyword suggestions and ranks by country
- Generate and save your list of keywords with data export
- Better data visualization than other keyword search tools
- Priority score that simplifies keyword decision-making
- Intuitive suggestions for related keywords
- Doesn’t have as much functionality as some of the other tools
- The free tool doesn’t show CPC
- The paid plans can be a little pricey for beginners or small businesses
Moz does have a Free Keyword Explorer tool as well as paid plans for the full feature set. The Standard plan starts at $99/month and goes up to $599/month for the Premium plan.
If you have brick-and-mortar locations or target geographic areas with your search marketing, Moz Local is a great tool for maximizing your visibility in your local target areas. It gives you powerful reporting and insights into your visibility and online presence.
From the Moz Local dashboard, you can create and maange your local business listings on platforms like Google and Facebook. The tool automatically identifies, confirms, and deletes duplicate listings. It will also help you optimize your listings for best results.
SpyFu is focused on helping you gain a competitive advantage by giving you insights on your competition. You can see the PPC keywords your competitors target and even view their ads for inspiration.
With limited keyword suggestions, this tool works best as a supplement to a keyword research tool with more functionality. But of the tools on this list, it is the best at competitor analysis, which can give you an advantage with your PPC ad campaigns.
Advanced competitor keyword research and analysis
- Discover Google Ads competitors’ keywords and ads
- Competitor analysis and buy recommendations
- Up to 10+ years of historical data (with professional and team plans)
- Compare domains and analyze traffic
- SEO features like rank tracking and backlink building
- Custom white label search term reports for SEO & PPC
- Full visibility into competitors’ keywords and ads
- Easy to find new opportunities for untapped keywords
- Website audit for optimization opportunities
- More limited keyword suggestions
- Need to buy plan for all the features
- Doesn’t provide search volume or trend data
The Basic plan is $39/month, the Professional plan is $79/month, and the Team plan is $299/month.
SpyFu makes it really easy to see the overlap between your site and a competitor’s site. When you run a competitor analysis, you’ll see the number of common keywords plus a little bar that shows the percentage of overlap.
It’s a nice little touch that can make the overlap more tangible when doing a competitor analysis.
Ubersuggest is a keyword research tool developed by marketing guru, Neil Patel. With it’s affordability and ease of use, it’s a great tool for beginners who are just getting started with PPC and SEO keyword expansion. However, it doesn’t have the features more advanced users might need.
Use Ubersuggest to get broad and long-tail keyword suggestions that you can filter and refine based on the attributes most important to you. The tool also has backlink research and content ideas for your SEO strategy.
Beginners looking for an affordable platform to get started on
- Broad and long-tail keyword suggestions
- Easy-to-use filters to refine keyword lists
- Metrics like search volume and keyword difficulty
- Search trends and geographic search data
- Site audit with detailed crawl report
- Google Keyword Planner integration
- Affordable plans with lifetime option to pay once and use forever
- Convenient Chrome extension
- Detailed error reporting
- Daily limit for free users
- Limited keyword data points
- Can be slow when running more than one report at a time
Ubersuggest’s monthly plans start at $49/month and go up to $99/month. They also offer Lifetime plans from $490 to $990.
To get the most out of Ubersuggest, make sure you’re using the filters to find the most profitable keywords to target. When you search for keyword ideas, you’ll see both the paid difficulty and SEO difficulty in columns to the right of the screen.
When you sort the results by CPC value, you’ll be able to see the high-intent keywords that potential customers are using in their search queries, and keywords with lower CPC. Find the keywords with the highest CPC value, and you’ll find the most valuable and profitable keywords.
7. Keyword Tool
Keyword Tool markets itself as an alternative to Google Keyword Planner. But what makes it unique from the other tools on this list is that it uses Google Autocomplete to identify hundreds or thousands of long-tail keyword variations for your keywords — many of which don’t show up in other tools.
It also allows you to search for keywords on a number of different platforms, including YouTube, Bing, Amazon, eBay, Apple App Store, Google Play Store, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Etsy, TikTok, and Google Trends. This makes it a great tool for those who are not just running PPC ad campaigns on Google Ads.
Long-tail keyword research for PPC and SEO and keyword research for other platforms like Amazon, Bing, and YouTube
- Keyword discovery across 13 different platforms
- Long-tail keyword suggestions from Google Autocomplete
- Precise monthly search volume data for keywords (not a range)
- Search volume data in b ulk for up to 100,000 keywords a day
- Google Autocomplete long-tail keyword suggestions provide unique competitive opportunities you can’t find on other tools
- Provides keyword suggestions across 13 different platforms
- Includes a free version
- Can be pricey for small businesses and independent marketers
- Narrow functionality that requires additional software for PPC research
- Free version has limited functionality
There’s a free version of Keyword Tool with limited features. The Pro version of this tool starts at $69/month and goes up to $159/month.
Don’t forget that the Keyword Tool shows you more than just Google Ads keywords. If you’re running ads on Amazon, make sure you toggle over to the Amazon tab to get PPC keyword data.
When you scroll down, you’ll see Amazon keyword suggestions with search volume, search trend, average CPC, and competition data.
Wordstream started as a keyword research tool but has since expanded into a full suite of advertising solutions and services. In addition to the free keyword search tool, they also have helpful free PPC audit tools, including a Google Ads performance grader, Facebook Ads performance grader, website grader, and business listings grader.
The free keyword tool provides hundreds of relevant PPC keyword suggestions that are specific to your industry and location. It uses the latest Google Search data to provide you with a list of keyword suggestions with volume and cost-per-click data.
Beginners looking for free tools to get started with PPC
- Latest Google Search data
- Search filters for industry and state or country
- Metrics like monthly search volume, and competition data
- Cost-per-click data with top of page bid in the low and high range
- Download keywords
- Free tool set
- Wordstream specializes in PPC advertising
- Real-time Google Analytics keyword access
- Need to provide your email list to get the full results list
- Lack of advanced SEO features for organic search
- No backlink analysis tools
The keyword research tool is free. The first 25 results will appear on the page, but you need to provide your email address to get the rest of the results for free.
After you type in the keyword, Wordstream will prompt you to provide the industry and state or country. Providing this information helps you refine your search in a way that’s tailored to your specific campaign.
In this example, I searched for fitness bikes and chose “Sports & Recreation” as my industry and “Texas” as my state to get more specific keyword suggestions. Here are the results:
9. Microsoft Keyword Planner
The Microsoft Ads Intelligence Keyword Planner integrates directly with your Bing Ads account to help you discover new keyword suggestions based on insights from historical trends and marketplace competition.
Those who are focused primarily on running Bing Ads will benefit from the information coming directly from the platform’s dataset. This can also be a great supplemental tool for those who run Bing Ads in addition to other types of PPC ads.
PPCers focused primarily on Bing Ads or as a supplemental tool for those who run Bing Ads
- Keyword suggestions based on categories or specific sites
- Metrics like search volume, impressions, clicks, CTR, CPC, and spend
- Insights into retargeting ad options
- Negative keyword suggestions
- Integrates directly with Bing Ads account
- Free Excel plugin where you can organize keyword recommendations
- Closely aligned with the Bing Ads platform
- Helpful filters to refine keyword data
- Offers historical cost data
- Focused mostly on Bing data
- Doesn’t analyze competitor data
- Limited functionality
This tool is free with your Microsoft Ads account.
When you use the keyword planner, you’ll see an area to enter “product or service.” In this box, you’ll type in all your root keywords, separated by a comma.
If you have a specific landing page you want to pull keywords from, you can paste that URL in the landing page text box as well. Then, just hit “Get Suggestions” and the tool will give you a list of keywords with search volume, competition, and CPC data.
10. Answer The Public
Answer The Public used to be a free tool for finding question-related search queries. Neil Patel acquired it, and it now has very limited free functionality. However, with a paid account, you’re able to perform more searches and get search volume and CPC data for your keyword phrases.
When you search for a root keyword, you’ll get related keyword suggestions for questions, prepositions, comparisons, alphabeticals, and related keywords. You can view the plain data or get a visualization of the keywords.
Generating question, preposition, and comparison keyword ideas
- Keyword discovery for Google, YouTube, and Bing
- Keyword suggestions for questions, prepositions, comparisons, and related keywords
- View keyword suggestions as a visualization or plain data
- Alphabetical keyword organization
- Country and language keyword parameters
- Free account option and free trial for paid plans
- Provides visualization of keyword results
- Easy to use and navigate
- Limited number of free searches
- No search volume and CPC data for free searches
- Limited functionality compared to other tools
When you register for a free account, you get 3 free searches a day. Paid plans start at $9/month for 100 searches a day, with lifetime plan options starting at $99.
When you’re getting a high volume of keyword suggestions, it can be overwhelming. One unique option that Answer The People offers is the ability to view your keyword suggestions alphabetically.
This can make it easier to review and digest the tool’s keyword suggestions. When you have a paid plan, the search volume and CPC will appear alongside the alphabetical long-tail keyword suggestions.
Choosing the right keyword research tools
Before we dive into our list of keyword research tools, note that most PPC experts will use a variety of tools to cover all their bases. Some are all-in-one tools, but others work best as supplements to tools with more functionality.
“When conducting keyword research, it is prudent to use multiple tools and not rely on a single source,” says Rambod Yadegar, President at HawkSEM says.
“After gathering info from various tools and you’re ready to start running ads, it is crucial that your tracking is integrated properly to your campaigns to ensure accurate ROAS analysis,” says Yadegar. “Tracking campaigns in a granular fashion is also important as you can obtain value-add customer data that can allow for profitable scaling.”
This article is about keyword research tools and not tools focused on PPC analytics or tracking. However, keep in mind you’ll also need a tool to track and analyze your PPC campaign results as part of your PPC management toolbox.
There are hundreds of keyword research tools that can find the best keywords for your PPC campaigns. But, as Duff Goldman — the Ace of Cakes and America’s favorite pastry chef — once said, “It’s not the wand. It’s the wizard.”
While I’m 100% positive he wasn’t talking about PPC keyword research tools, the same thought process applies here. Great keyword research tools are only as effective as the person using them.
And the keywords themselves are just a small part of your overall PPC ad strategy.
For the best results, partner with an expert who knows the ins and outs of every aspect of pay-per-click advertising from keyword research and writing PPC ad copy to optimizing ads and lowering CPC.
HawkSEM would love to be your partner in all things PPC. Book a complimentary consultation call to see what’s possible for your business.