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Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

5 Best SEO keyword Research Tools for Startups

You might be wondering if it is worth it to use keyword research tools in the first place. Why not just write about what I believe is good at the time?

Keyword Research is one of the most if not the most essential part of Search Engine Optimization. If your SEO strategy is not based on a properly researched set of keywords, then you might be running in the wrong direction.

I have worked in more than 4 industries, and organic search has always been the number 1 traffic, and conversions source.

After a lot of research and trials, I have summed up the top 5 Search Engine Optimization solutions that provide the best Keyword Research tools below.

Invest in the Right Tools

Starting up a new business, you have to invest both a lot of time and a few bucks. The better the resources you use, the more efficient your efforts will be.

Search Engine Optimization is one of the fields that require the help of an SEO tool. Tools provide you with SEO metrics that will make your efforts pay off.

Choosing the right keywords can be challenging for startups and new websites. Most SEO experts will tell you to start with longtail keywords, as they have low competition, but in return low search volume as well.

Keyword difficulty score is a measure used by most SEO Keyword Research tools, in order to tell you how hard it is to rank on a given keyword on search engines.

Choosing the right tool, however, can make all the difference between fast and slow results.

The 5 Best Keyword Research Tools for Startups in 2023

1- Surfer SEO

The world is evolving day after day and the latest tech trends are moving toward AI systems. Surfer SEO does not provide a comprehensive SEO analysis for your website; It does however give you a set of extremely powerful features for Keyword Research and SEO blog writing.

And because our focus in this article is on Keyword Research, so I will start by highlighting its keyword research tool.

Find Potential Keyword Clusters and write on-page SEO-optimized content

Surfer SEO Keyword Research

Surfer SEO’s keyword research takes into mind the semantic SEO approach employed by Search Engines nowadays. Semantic SEO means, that search engines consider an article by looking at its meaning instead of just a set of mentioned keywords among its lines.

Their keyword research tool, will not just give you a set of keywords with monthly search volumes and difficulty ranges but will consolidate them together into clusters that can be targeted with a content editor.

3 main elements help Surfer SEO determine which topic suits your blog best;

  • Keyword intent
  • Monthly Search Volume
  • Keyword Difficulty (KD)

The reason I am placing Surfer SEO as number 1 in this list, is because it won’t confuse you with millions of results and loads of unnecessary measurement criteria

Surfer SEO also gives you the option to transform any topic you decide on to the content editor, which is a pretty brilliant tool.

Surfer SEO Natural Language Processing AI

Surfer SEO Content Editor

Surfer SEO content editor uses an AI feature called the NLP, which helps computer systems understand the text the same way as any human would. It is believed Google and other search engines use the same technology for their SERP rankings.

Evaluating Competitors' content

When you choose a topic to write about and you decide to move it to the content editor, Surfer takes the top 10 or so results and starts to study them with its NLP feature and then creates a customized set of recommendations to help your article rank.

I am personally using Surfer SEO to write this blog and have found it pretty helpful when it comes to SEO content writing. And remember Blogging is no longer about writing good text only, but how much effort you’ve put in, in order to make the article SEO friendly.

Surfer SEO has a basic plan starting at only 59$ per month, and you will get 17% OFF when choosing to pay annually.


SEMrush has long been renowned as the leading SEO tool, providing comprehensive SEO features from site audit, all the way to competitive analysis. We are evaluating its keyword research tool today, however.

Semrush Keyword Research Tool

SEMrush keyword research consists of several tools performing multiple tasks, all working together to help you organize your workflow.

  • Keyword Overview
  • Keyword Magic Tool
  • Keyword Manager
  • Position Tracking
  • Organic Traffic Insights

Each of the above has its purpose to help you make the best decision about which keywords offer you the best potential for ranking.

Let’s walk the journey together.

First, you will use the keyword Magic tool in order to come up with some new keyword suggestions. Keyword ideas are then evaluated based on the search volume, Keyword Difficulty (KD), intent, and trend line.

You can filter the list of keyword suggestions using advanced filters for any of the above elements. For example, you can choose keywords with a search volume from 1k to 5k and apply an additional filter for KD 30 to 60. That will help you narrow down your keyword list with mid-volume high-ranking potential keywords.

You can even choose a keyword length filter that will allow you to target long-tail keywords.

Once you have chosen your keywords you can add them to a list and give it a name. When you are done identifying your target keywords, move to the keyword Overview tool.

Then start filling up each of your chosen keywords and get more insights as to the global search volume, Keyword variations, questions asked around that topic, and a list of relevant keywords.

Then, after you have created your blog article and published it, go to the Position Tracking tab and start measuring your ranking for the targeted keyword.

SEMrush starts with the pro plan at the price of 120$ per month, and you can get a 17% OFF if paid annually.

3- ahrefs

Ahrefs has a prime position when it comes to link building. But, its keyword research tool is quite competitive as well. Even its name refers to links <a href>

But it has a good standing however when it comes to keyword research. Ahrefs will provide you with thousands of suggestions at the click of a button. It boasts a uniquely easy and friendly interface.

Ahrefs even go further to provide you with some advanced insights for your keyword search results. You can identify the average monthly number of clicks for a given keyword, how many search results are clicked after searching for a specific keyword, and the percentage of organic vs paid clicks.

Not just that, but it can even provide you with the Return Rate insight telling you which keywords get repeat searches the most.

The Keyword Overview tool

Ahrefs Keyword Research Tool

In the Keyword overview tool, you can check the Parent Topic insight which will tell you whether you can use your page to rank for a more generic keyword

In addition, the Keyword Difficulty score insight will tell you how hard it is to stand among the top 10 search results. Each keyword gets a score from 1 to 100, 1 being extremely easy and 100 being solid rock hard.

You will also be able to see the global search volume and each country’s share of that volume.

Moreover, the overview page will give you a table showing the top 10 SREP results, their page authority, domain authority, and traffic share.

ahrefs can be considered a smart choice for both startups and large businesses alike, but you may consider it when you are thinking of a full SEO strategy instead of just Keyword Research.

ahrefs lite plan starts at 99$ per month, or you can pay annually and get 2 free months.

4- Moz Keyword Explorer

Moz SEO isn’t just about Keyword research, they offer a fully integrated solution for helping your website climb SERPs.

Its Keyword Explorer is quite similar to the above tools, but the tool’s interface from my personal POV is somehow not as friendly as that of Surfer and SEMrush.

It has that brilliant feature where it lets you find longtail keywords in question format. Those have a higher potential for ranking, as they have lower competition due to their lower search volume.

Longtail keywords however are a very clever strategy to tackle when your website is still relatively new and still hasn’t gained any authority to help it rank on the first results page.

5- Google Keyword Planner

A search engine keyword research tool by the leading search engine platform! that must be the real deal you would think. Yes, it is a great Free keyword research tool. And in fact, it works as long as you want to get more ideas.

But, the insights you can claim from Google’s Keyword Planner are not as comprehensive as the ones you get out of a paid tool.

Google Keyword Planner will determine the difficulty score by only three measures; low, medium, and high. I will also give you an average range for the monthly search volume, but will never give you an accurate number.

Google keyword trend as well works in most cases, but it will give you a 3-month change percentage.

I personally believe Google Keyword Planner to be a better tool for PPC campaigns and not for SEO activities. In fact, it was originally designed for that exact reason.

In order to access Google Keyword Planner you will have to create a Google Ads account first. Another downside of Google Keyword Planner is that it only takes Google Search Engine in mind, and ignores Bing, Yandex, CC search, etc.

Paid vs Free SEO Approach

SEO is known to be an organic traffic channel, as the traffic generated on the website results from organic search engine appearances on the first page.

The process of optimizing your website however is not that easy. SEO takes a lot of effort when it comes to content creation and backlink building. In order to make sure that you are paddling in the right direction, you have to make well-guided decisions regarding the keywords you will be targeting.

On-page SEO is a critical element nowadays, you can’t just compile some nice words in a new post and wait for your blog to rank. Now you have to consider the number of keyword usage, word placement, and the headers’ structure.

And to help give your articles a push, you will have to work on backline building for some domain and page authority.

Some will tell you that it is achievable without a tool, but the fact is, even while using an SEO tool the process is not that easy, imagine if you are not using one! Triple the work.


Rafik Adel

Rafik Adel is a Digital Marketing expert who worked in several industries from Cosmetics, Mall Management all the way to Hospitality Marketing. He spent 4 years working as a Head of Digital Marketing for some of the top hotel brands including Steigenberger, Rixos, Savoy, & Pickalbatros. Rafik's extensive knowledge of Marketing strategies and Digital Analytics has brought him ahead in terms of planning and execution.

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