There’s a lot of premium services around for researching your website to help it rank better on Google. The two most popular among SEO service providers and all the gurus who tell you to make money online, usually push Ahrefs and Semrush services. There’s good reasons for this, their services are comprehensive and well trusted. But they are expensive. So what is the best, affordable keyword research tool for 2021? Let’s have a look.
Are Keyword Research Tools Even Useful in 2021?
Many online teachers suggest that Google doesn’t rely on keywords in 2021. They’re right. But the keyword research tools still do provide good inspiration for finding things to write about – and the two people I follow mostly also suggest this is true. And Google is unlikely to be fully ‘away’ from keywords anyway. But it’s useful to think about what the searcher is looking for when framing your keyword research.
Free Keyword Research Tools
You can do keyword research using just Google Keyword Planner for free. And it works. There’s a bunch of additional steps you can go through to refine your keyword planning with it, such as using Google Autosuggest to provide you with the popular search trends. I’m not going to teach you how to do keyword research in this post – mostly because I am absolutely not an online marketing guru and have nothing to teach. I follow other people’s advice.
If you’re looking for someone who, I believe, has good advice for how to produce content using Google Keyword Planner, I’d pay a visit to Morten from Passive Income Geek or Income School both of which have active YouTube channels and can teach you far more about how to earn money from producing content.
There’s also Keywords Everywhere, which is a Chrome / Edge / Firefox extension which can be used in conjunction with Google SERPs to analyse traffic volumes and things like that. It’s no longer free for some of the things it does, but I think it gives an introduction for free.
The free tools though don’t provide any sort of analysis on where your page ranks for all the different keywords, there’s no trend analysis for your site. There’s no competitor analysis either. None of which is essential if you’re just getting started – but if you have a few projects on the go and want to improve their ranking then you’re going to need something a bit more comprehensive like Semrush or Ahrefs.
So, What Is The Best Affordable Online SEO Tool?
I’ve just started using SERanking.com – it offers a limited free trial (which Ahrefs and Semrush also do to the best of my knowledge). I must point out, I have not used either Ahrefs or Semrush for a long long time. Prior to that I was using purely free tools as mentioned above.
I’d love to say I could afford Semrush or Ahrefs but I simply can’t justify $100 – $120 per month for the few sites I’m trying to set up. It’s probably well worth it if you’re an SEO agency – but I’m just writing for a couple of niche sites and I’m not making that much money off them – yet.
SERanking.com though seems to offer similar things to the other 2, but at a fraction of the cost. I’d never heard of SERanking.com until the other week. But they offer a free 7 day limited trial. And then the monthly fees are as low as $20 (approx.) a month.
Now, $20 per month I can afford to shell out for an online SEO tool because in theory it will help me regain that much fairly quickly. I’m still hoping of course but I’ve only been using it a couple of weeks.
SERanking.com What Does It Offer?
SERanking.com comes with the following features built in. I have no idea what some of them do so I won’t bother trying to explain those – you can have a look yourself if you like to find out more. You may understand more about it than I do too – that’s quite likely!
Keyword Research Tool
The SERanking.com keyword planner is the primary reason I chose to go from the trial to a paid for plan. It gives you the features you’d expect from a keyword research tool such as estimated search volume, estimated difficulty to rank as well as the SERP results for that keyword.
It then presents the similar keywords to the ones you’ve asked it to find in a nice table, which can be sorted by search volume, difficulty, cost per click (if you’re thinking of trying to run paid ads for that search term) and competition. Presumably competition and difficulty are somehow intertwined.
You can also set filters on those keywords so that you only see keywords that are easier to rank for, or have a certain amount of search volume for example.
You can then, by pressing a button, see related keywords to the one you’ve asked it to find.
This feature is the one I use the most. A screenshot is included below so you can see how it looks with a sample keyword search.
I’ve not really done all that much with this as yet – as I’m still a relative novice. However, almost everyone agrees that backlinks are an important signal to Google about the relative authority of your site. With that in mind, good quality backlinks are an important part of the SEO process and SERanking.com gives you the ability to check how your backlink efforts (if any) are going.
I personally tend to agree with Morten and Jim and Ricky in that I don’t believe backlinks should be bought, sought after or requisitioned in any way. Concentrate on providing engaging, useful content and your backlinks will come organically. And Google much prefers organic backlinks.
With that said though, it’s nice to be able to see how your site is doing with regard to backlinks and SERanking.com plots your backlink tally over time on a nice graph so you can see how it’s growing or shrinking. It’s a good guide that you’re producing content that people like – or not.
SERanking.com can also show you reports on which backlinks you gained and which you lost over a certain period of time, such as in the image below.
This is where a decent online SEO tool really comes into its own. And it’s not because you want to copy your competitors or do anything shady, but you need to know how they’re ranking and what their content looks like in order to effectively compete.
The sites which rank in the Top Ten Google results all do so for a reason. That reason depends on the searcher intent and over 200 different ranking signals that are proprietary to Google. However, you can get clues by looking at what your competitors are doing.
The Competitive Research tool of SERanking.com gives you the ability to quickly and easily find out who your competitors are (though for this you’ll need the keyword research tool first) and then find out why they’re ranking better than you.
Putting the website address of your competitors into SERanking.com will allow it to pull various data about the competition, including their top ranking keywords and where those keywords tend to land visitors. From this you can also see how their rankings have changed over time and for how many keywords. Very crafty.
Using this you can see where they might have gaps in their content that you can fill instead. That way, rather than trying to rank for the same content you can rank for similar, but not yet written content.
It’s worth noting as well that this tool allows you to export the keywords it finds, with filters applied. This can be extremely handy when you’re researching which keywords you might want to target when initially starting your new site. Exporting to Excel for example means you can then go through the results and mark the keywords you want to start with in a green background and those that you don’t think are worth chasing in a grey background, for example. Then you can manage your time and project efficiently.
This is another handy little area of the SERanking online SEO tool’s most useful parts. It enables you to keep an eye on where your site is ranking for specific keywords. Obviously you have to set it up to track whichever keywords you want to check, and the amount you can check (and how often) is determined by which plan you’re on.
This is a nice little point about SERanking.com which I’ll come back to later, but if you don’t need daily updates to your rank monitoring, you can save yourself a good chunk of monthly money by setting this to weekly. It’s about half price if you don’t need daily ranking updates.
The rankings monitor though will present everything in the nice graphical way you’ve come to expect from the other sections of the SEO tool. At the top you have a graph which you can choose the period over which you want to see your rankings. For me, I only have a couple of weeks on there so there’s not a lot of data yet. But still, the image below shows you how it looks for this website, most-useful.com at this point in time.
It’s worth pointing something quite important out on this photo. At first you might look at it and say ‘Egad – most useful.com rankings have plummeted in the last week’. The average position has dropped from 16 to 27. But you might also notice that conversely that amount of traffic has actually gone up by 164. This is because new content has been added and new keywords tracked.
Those keywords that I’m newly tracking are not ranking well yet. So they’ve dragged the whole averages down with them. So I’ve more keywords tracked, giving more potential traffic, but a considerably lower average position. Whenever you read data from a graph or a table it’s important to understand the context of that data.
The image below shows more drill down data available for each individual keyword that I’m tracking.
This is one of my favourite parts of this keyword research tool by SERanking.com because it enables you to track individual progress of each keyword. If you make any changes to your articles to which you’re sending traffic you can see how that has affected your position.
Do bear in mind of course, you’re not operating on an island. Your pages will rank in relation to everyone else’s pages. So if you were ranking #1 for a certain keyword but suddenly drop to #3 then it may simply be that your competitors updated an article and improved it to make it more relevant to the searchers than yours is.
Or you may have changed your post and messed it all up!
Analytics And Traffic Auditing
Of course you can get Analytics and traffic monitoring from Google Analytics for free. And if you do, you can hook your SERanking.com reports up to it to give more in depth analysis of your traffic, search results and potential revenue.
This tool is extremely comprehensive and I am using hardly anything of it at present. But if you have an ECommerce store or affiliate landing page or something that generates actual revenue for you, then you can use this part of the online seo tool to decide how much you should be paying for Cost Per Click ads or Cost Per Thousand ads or similar. This is because the SEO Potential tab will show you how much you’d have to spend to generate a certain amount of traffic and how much (based on averages) you’d expect to earn.
You can quickly use this information to decide which keywords you should continue bidding on keyword ads for versus though you should dump yesterday.
It’s probably worth pointing out that for me, this is irrelevant. But if you have landing pages that you’re hoping will convert, or you’re running a business website where every customer has potential to buy something directly from you, then this could easily be a winning strategy to determine the price you’re willing to pay for your cost per click ads.
Google Search Console integration means you can add and track any keywords that GSC automatically lists within, including keywords you may not have previously realised you were even ranking or being shown for. This can help you decide to revisit some pages and further optimise them for potentially more hits.
Social Media Presence
This section of SERanking.com lets you keep an eye on your social media presence within the world too. Online life isn’t all about keywords and keyword research tools you know. Sometimes it’s about engaging with potential customers on social platforms.
I’ve not looked too deeply into it because at the moment only one of my sites really uses any social media. But that site does use both Facebook and Twitter and SERanking.com’s social media tracker allows you to see how many new likes you’ve received to your pages this week. Or how many you’ve lost.
This tool shows you how your social media marketing presence is working or not. It gives you solid metrics such as whether your likes are coming from Facebook’s own internal ‘Page Suggestions’ or from other sources.
You can also use this tool to automatically post content to your social media platform on a schedule. It’s handy if you have people who write your content separately and you don’t want to flood your feed all at once.
One of the most important things you can do to improve the search engine optimisation for your website is to ensure that you get your ‘On Page SEO’ right. This means, ensuring that your pages have the right headings to help Google understand what that page is about. Making sure the post reads well is important – so paragraphs that aren’t too big for example.
SERanking.com provides auditing tools built in to your plan. Setting them up is as simple as putting the domain name in to the tool and letting it run. SERanking will give you a thorough break down of all the things it finds that could affect your search engine ranking.
You can choose whether to have this audit performed manually or on a weekly or monthly schedule. This can be good to ensure you don’t make changes that break your website.
If your website is built on WordPress then some of these features can be performed by various different plugins for free. Plugins such as Rank Math will take care of some of these aspects for you – but they can’t do everything. Plus, more plugins on your WordPress site means slower response times. SERanking can look after these audits for you automatically.
The website audit will crawl your website and look for errors such as broken links, forbidden access, redirects, server errors. It’ll look for URLs that are too long.
It’ll even look for pages that contain ‘mixed content’. This is where some of your content is not secured by an SSL connection. It’s likely to be less and less of a problem as time goes by, but it can still reduce your sites overall appeal to users and as a result Google may drop you down the rankings.
Then the website auditing tool from SERanking.com will go ahead and look at other things such as page titles that are too long (meaning that Google will truncate them in the SERP) or pages that have duplicate content or meta tags which can upset Google.
Finally (for us, though we’ve only touched the surface of the SERanking.com audit tool) the tool will also look at the Optimization metrics that Google will look at to determine how well your page performs. It’ll look at the Core Web Vitals metrics that Google has introduced an stated will become at least partly responsible for ranking in 2021. If it finds any problems it’ll suggest solutions.
On page SEO / Technical SEO is super important if you’re not going to be chasing backlinks but instead let them grown organically. If there’s on page SEO issues that could be harming your chances of ranking for the smaller long tail search terms – meaning you won’t get backlinks and the larger search terms will never get ranked for.
SERanking.com Biggest Advantage
So, you get all that – and more that I’ve probably missed or just not explained very well. But the most important thing for me is this.
Flexible Pricing Model
The thing that attracts me most to SERanking.com’s online SEO Tool offering is that the pricing is flexible. That’s not to say you can just pay what you want. But there’s some features I simply don’t need.
For example, their ‘Optimum’ service – which is the one I use – starts at £23 per month. That’s about $35/month. That gives me 250 keywords that can be tracked and 10 websites that can be monitored for rankings changes on a daily basis. It gives me 20 pages of keyword suggestions from the keyword tool.
With that I can check the backlinks for 20 domains per day and run on page SEO checks for up to 150 pages. That’s more than I need. But if you need more you can pay more and get more.
Equally though, I don’t need daily rankings monitoring. Weekly rankings monitoring suits my business case just fine and this drops the price point from £23/mth to just £13.80/mth – saving nearly £10. That’s about $19/mth which is far more affordable than the $99/mth for Ahrefs or $120/mth for Semrush.
If you need additional features you can increase your subscription plan at any time.
Is SERanking.com Any Good?
I think you can see from the article, I think SERanking.com is extremely good and the more I use it the better it actually gets. The price point is such that I can actually afford, and justify it. The level of service is just how I need it to be and for my small sites it’s perfect. I imagine if I was an agency or something similar then the price point would still make this an attractive alternative to Semrush or Ahrefs.
Basically SERanking.com is the hidden gem of the SEO world it seems. I’m glad I’ve found it, and I’d highly recommend you give it a try too if ranking your website is important to you. Click here to start a free trial.
I’d be interested to hear what other people think – please let me know in the comments.