Top Keyword Research and Competitive Intelligence Tools

Keyword research for paid or organic search engine optimization (SEO) is a necessary practice that can go well beyond finding popular keywords. Keyword research tools have evolved to include a broad range of functionality, such as competitive intelligence research, niche keywords, common misspellings, irrelevant keyword cleanup, social mentions, synonyms, targeted search, analytics, and much more.  The cost of this insight can range from free to thousands of dollars per year.

In his book, Keyword Intelligence: Keyword Research for Search, Social, and Beyond, Ron Jones neatly defines the four phases of keyword research as follows:

Top Keyword Research & Competitive Intelligence Tools

While compiling keywords and monitoring your own keyword SEO success and failure is critical, it is just as important to keep an eye on your competitors. Not only does keyword competitive intelligence allow you to level the playing field, it also gives you insights to allow you to win the game.

For example, I once researched business telecommunications keywords for a company I was working for, and found their competitors were all competing for the same basic keywords. Those keywords were highly popular and consequently very expensive. By applying a little creativity with search strings/phrases, our company trumped the competition virtually every time, plus we drew more relevant traffic for increased conversions.

The right tools automate this process and make it super-easy to do. Successful SEO specialists employ several tools and bring the data together into a sound strategy that is constantly tweaked. In order to make informed decisions, we need to gather data from a number of sources and databases.

The three main factors to consider when choosing and using a keyword research and/or competitive intelligence tool are:

  • The data source(s)
  • The actual volume of keywords analyzed
  • The keyword statistics algorithm

Favourite Keyword & Intelligence Tools of SEO Superstars

We have our own favourite tools and we asked many of our SEO guru friends what their faves are. The resulting list has some standard choices, but we were surprised to see some traditional favourites are falling behind. It’s always a good idea to try new things in SEO and apparently tools are no exception.

Übersuggest  – A free tool that suggests keywords and allows for customization, such as Canadian English and French. You can find mainstream web search information or specify information from video, images, shopping, news, or even recipes.

Wordstream Keyword Suite – This suite of free keyword tools combines into one of the best SEO resources currently available for free. The suite includes a free keyword tool for finding keywords, a keyword niche finder tool to help you find value-added, structured keywords, a keyword grouper tool that takes your list of keywords or data and transforms it into an organized keyword structure, and a negative keyword tool that spots irrelevant keywords.

Long Tail Pro Keyword Research Software – Quickly generate thousands of keywords at once, filter automatically, and find exact match domains in seconds. Known as the most complete keyword research & competitor analysis software, enhanced by the world’s most powerful SEO research features like rank checker, competitor analysis, pay-per-click analysis. You get more features than any of the other popular research tools for a lower price. Test it out for $1 and be reassured by their 30-day money-back guarantee.

Soovle – If you’re looking for free keyword query information for major search engines, this is the tool for you.

SEMRush – The client list speaks for itself, including PayPal, Forbes, Philips, GE, and Remax. SEMRush retains a firm focus on competitive intelligence, with organic, advertising and keyword research. They track many different keyword metrics including cost per click (CPC), volume, number of results, competition score, top 20 organic results, monthly trend, and so on. The SEO metrics can then be presented visually according to your specifications.

Bing Ads Intelligence – A search keyword research tool that allows you to build and expand on your keyword lists using the Microsoft Office Excel interface. Gauge the performance of relevant keywords on the Yahoo Bing Network, and then apply those insights to improve your keyword selection and campaign performance.

SEOBook Keyword Tool – A free keyword research tool that provides 500 results with estimated search volumes, bid prices, cross links to SERPs, negative match and modified broad match, etc.  You can export the data to a spreadsheet.

SEOBook Keyword Typo Generator – A handy tool for those who don’t have the feature built into another SEO suite. Simply type in a keyword and the tool will provide a list of common misspellings that you may want to use as part of your SEO strategy.

Advanced Web Ranking – This tool is used by many names you’ll recognize, including Microsoft, Sony, Amazon and Disney. Keyword research features include content optimization, keyword analysis, keyword priority, competitive intelligence, keyword commercial value, SEO browser and performance history. There is a free 30 day trial through which you can select the best lifetime license for you.

iSpionage – Competitive intelligence reports on your specified keywords or domain name (including .ca for Canadian domains). Find out about social mentions, Pay Per Click (PPC) and SEO competitors. You can get up to five free reports each day.

Synonym – This free generator can really help when you’re trying to think of all associated keywords. Results include the most popular online synonym searches, as well as antonyms.

If you’re a big player, or working for one, you may want to consider the more pricey tools like Adgooroo or ComScore.

Keywords and keyword data are important, but remember what it’s for. Tools can provide the information but it’s up to you to analyze it and find constructive, real-world applications for it. All factors and data must be combined to result in the ultimate SEO strategy. Due to the perpetual evolution of SEO, you are never done with this process.

??? What are your favourite keyword and competitive intelligence research tools? Please share them in the comments below.

You may also be interested in reading:
SEO – 15 Easy Ways to Show Search Engines You’re Canadian
Top Web Analytics Tools Used by Marketers
PR3+ Canadian-Owned Blogs for Blogger Outreach and Guest Posts


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Digital Business & Marketing Manager at Online Business Canada | Website | + posts

Melody McKinnon is an internet entrepreneur with 25 years of experience in a wide range of online business models, backed by a formal business education and enhanced by training and mentorship. She has owned or managed both educational and ecommerce websites. Her book, 7 Recession Proof Online Businesses to Start From Home, is available from all major ebook retailers.

Melody has worked with many businesses & brands in a multitude of capacities. She can often be found on,,, and, as well as other quality digital publications. Her content has earned reference links from highly-respected websites, magazines and university textbooks.

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Claude Benoit

There’s so much more to online marketing than I thought when it comes to analyzing but it makes sense now that I know about it. I don’t know what marketers did before tools came out to help! Anyone want to share their favourites for Canadian data? Thanks!

akash sidhu

I want to make a new. Website in canada, i have my previous website, which has pretty great stuff.


It really is a science! Always changing and that means you need tools to monitor and analyze it all. I use a couple of softwares for keyword research and watch competitors because it saves so much time and it’s just so much more information. You can’t really do it without tools these days.

SEO company

Thanks a lot for sharing this excellent knowledge with us. This site is awesome . I always find great knowledge towards it

George C.

Check this tool out, it has the biggest database of keywords for Google Canada –


Great list & thanks for it! Any reason you excluded Google’s tools?


I actually have an account at K-meta Tool and absolutely love it.


One of the most useful lists that SEO specialist needs.

Karlee P. James

I really really really LOVE this part of the game!!! I love the keyword research and finding the best words & phrases, the hidden gems that nobody else has discovered. I love finding useful and clever ways to use them in content. I love tracking the analytics and weighing the results. Then I love doing it all over again! As you’ve said before Melody, you have to LOVE online marketing to keep up with all that and be inspired to keep doing it.


Sem Rush is the best tool


I got a lot out of this post and I’m excited to get started using CI. Sometimes people get too bogged down in that kind of data though so I’ll be watching my self for obsession LOL.


Wordstream and semrush are fantastic tools! I use both of them together and don’t need anything else.


Keep in mind these tools give your competitors insights about YOU too. Be a moving target and change your moves regularly.

Eunice T.

A few here I haven’t heard of, thanks!


I haven’t seen an updated list of keyword tools in a long time. I use up to five ever single day because I agree you have to use more than one to cover all marketing angles.