Which Seo Tools Is Right for You 2018 : Long Tail Pro vs SEMrush vs SERPed vs ahrefs

Keyword Research Tool Must Haves


At this stage, we’ve covered the different ways to approach keyword research and how to determine the right one to take.

But here’s the thing:

Knowing which approach to take only tells you the type of tool you need, but it still doesn’t tell which tool you need, specifically.

So with that in mind, let’s cover the “must have” features when it comes to choosing a keyword research tool.

There are really only a few key features that’ll move the needle, and once you know what they are, you can make a MUCH better buying decision.


Keyword Suggestions

The first one is pretty obvious, but it needs to be said.

That’s right, the number of suggestions it spits out. Generally, the more keywords you have to work with, the more likely you are to find those gems.

But while you should absolutely look for a tool that brings back a reasonable number of suggestions, there is a trade off.


Larger lists are inherently less relevant. When you have a bunch of low-relevance keywords, you need to be able to effectively filter that list based on different data points.

And while any decent keyword research tool will allow you to filter and analyze suggestions, it’s access to data that determines how well this works.

We’ll come back to this again shortly, but for now, just keep this relationship in mind.


Keyword Suggestions: Showdown

The only logical way to compare keyword tools based on suggestions is to run the same query through each and record the results.


Long Tail Pro ( Try Today)

Found: 2,654 suggestions

Notes: A reasonable number of suggestions, but I did have to run the seed keyword multiple times due to limitations.

SEMRush  ( Free Trail for 7 days)

Found: 20,00,000 (Winner)


Notes: An excellent result considering this traditional research tool (Keyword Magic) is still in Beta.

Ahrefs Keywords Explorer

Found: 745,233

Notes: Ahrefs completely knocks it out of the park on this one, pulling in the largest number of keyword suggestions by a mile.

SERPed ( Try it today)

Found: 100,900

Notes: Impressive, but if you’re on the AppSumo plan, you won’t be able to see more than 100 suggestions.

Data Filtering

It’s easy to look at the ‘keyword suggestions’ test and jump to conclusions about which is “best”, but you have to keep in mind, sheer volume by itself isn’t useful.

As I said before, you need to be able to use data to filter suggestions effectively, otherwise, you’re just biting off more than you can chew.

SEMRush is a perfect example.


In my initial test, the tool pulled in a huge 100,900 suggestions for the keyword, “massage”. But where do we go from there?


Things like ‘Cost’ and ‘PPC competition aren’t very helpful when it comes to organic keyword research.

Most importantly, there are ZERO link metrics for me to gauge keyword difficulty, let alone a dedicated SEO difficulty metric.

The filters, unsurprisingly, aren’t able to offer much help either.

With that many suggestions and no way to filter them properly, it actually creates more problems than it solves.

This is why, in my opinion, suggestions and filtering go hand-in-hand when it comes to keyword research tools.

Data Filtering: Showdown

Long Tail Pro ( Try Today)


Notes: Plenty of filtering opportunities but the interface could use some improvement. I found it to be quite slow and clunky.

SEMRush  ( Free Trail for 7 days)


Notes: SEMRush allows you to filter suggestions based on all the usual data points you’d expect. One Of the best.

Ahrefs Keywords Explorer


Notes: Offers a plethora of fresh and cached data that allow you to apply very precise filtering to suggestions.

SERPed ( Try it today)


Notes: Some good filtering options but it’s still lacking the ability to filter by keyword difficulty (not advertising competition).


Search Volume Trend


The first thing most people look for when doing keyword research is the keyword’s monthly search volume.

What’s often overlooked, however, is search volume trend.

Let’s look at the keyword phrase, “valentines gifts for her” which gets 6,200 (US) monthly searches according to Ahrefs.

But since this is a seasonal keyword, the search volume isn’t evenly distributed over the year like you might expect with other keywords.

Check it out:

Of course, it won’t always be so obvious and it’s important to identify seasonal imbalance with any keyword you decide to target.

Some keyword keyword research tools allow you to see search volume trend from within the tool itself, though that’s not always the case.

Search Volume Trend: Showdown

This will be a pretty straightforward test, especially since many of these tools don’t even offer search volume trend.

For the ones that do, take note of how they present the data, and what level of data is provided. Yeah, search trend can get pretty deep.

Long Tail Pro ( Try Today)


Notes: Long Tail Pro doesn’t provide ‘search volume trend’ data.

SEMRush  ( Free Trail for 7 days)


Notes: A pretty standard trend graph, but I’d much prefer if it actually showed the search volumes as opposed to a decimal value.

Ahrefs Keywords Explorer

Notes: Not only does it show search volume trends, but it breaks it down even further based on whether people actually clicked.

SERPed ( Try it today)


Notes: Another tool that leverages the power of an embed. I can’t help but respect the ingenuity.


Keyword Difficulty

Nowadays, pretty much every keyword research tool offers some form of difficulty or competitiveness score.

In case you don’t know, this is a metric that allows you to filter and pick out low-competition keywords at a glance.

When it works, it’s very, very useful.

I say “when it works” because, as Perrin discovered, keyword research tools tend to calculate this metric in different ways, often resulting in vastly different scores.

Obviously, they can’t all be right.

Since keyword difficulty is such a key metric when it comes to speeding up the keyword research process, you’ll want a tool that offers a reasonably accurate scoring system.

Keyword Difficulty: Showdown

Long Tail Pro ( Try Today)


Notes: Long Tail Pro is regarded as one of the most reliable tools when it comes to keyword difficulty, and I can see why.

SEMRush  ( Free Trail for 7 days)

Notes: Most of the time the KD score is just plain wrong. This is easily one of the biggest weaknesses of SEMRush in my opinion.

Ahrefs Keywords Explorer

Notes: Despite building their keyword difficulty algorithm entirely around links, we’ve found that Ahrefs offers the most reliable metric over any other tool.

SERPed ( Try it today)


Notes: SERPed doesn’t provide ‘keyword difficulty’ data.

SERP Analysis

Personally, I put a LOT of weight on this one.

As much as I love a good ole’ keyword difficulty score, it’ll be a while before it fully replaces a manual SERP analysis. (Though I’ll be happy to eat my words)

Why’s it so important?

Well, assuming we have the right data in front of us, humans are still much better at evaluating keyword difficulty. It just takes us longer to do it.

So while I recommend using a difficulty metric to narrow down your suggestions, you should always do a manual analysis before giving any keyword the green light.

As I briefly mentioned earlier, your ability to do this effectively relies on data. More specifically, the availability and accuracy of specific kinds of data, like:

  • Backlinks
  • Referring domains
  • Domain level authority
  • Page level authority

SERP Analysis: Showdown

Long Tail Pro ( Try Today)


Notes: Plenty of solid data. It’s just a shame that SERP analysis on any keyword forces you into a new browser tab. Because if there’s one thing I need more of, it’s tabs.

SEMRush  ( Free Trail for 7 days)


Notes: SEMRush literally forwards you to Google’s search results page. Chrome extension, anyone?

Ahrefs Keywords Explorer


Notes: Ahrefs offers a very detailed analysis. The only drawback is that it sometimes takes a few clicks to get there, depending on the keyword.

SERPed ( Try it today)



Notes: A very basic analysis that doesn’t offer any real off-page data to properly evaluate competition.

Request Limitations


Request limitations are the kryptonite of the keyword research world.

Seriously, even if a tool excels at everything else in this “must haves” list, the last thing you want is having to spread your research over several days to avoid limitations.

That defeats one of the core principles of using a keyword research tool in the first place.

Request Limitations: Showdown

Long Tail Pro ( Try Today)


Notes: Long Tail Pro works on a sort of monthly ‘credit’ system, which, when you break it down, isn’t actually all that good.

SEMRush  ( Free Trail for 7 days)


Notes: SEMRush allows you to make 3,000 requests per day – and that’s on the lowest plan. You’d be hard pushed to burn through that amount.

Ahrefs Keywords Explorer

Notes: Ahrefs also works on a monthly credit system, which they call ‘Rows”. Overall, I think it’d take some doing to run the tank empty.

SERPed ( Try it today)


Notes: Definitely one of the more generous tools (at least in this area) with 300 requests per day on the lowest plan.

Overall Speed

Speed is an obvious one to most, but it’s easily overlooked.

Now, if you’re a casual blogger who’s only looking to do some light keyword research from time to time, this will be far less important.

That said, if you’re doing keyword research on a larger scale then all those wasted seconds can quickly turn to hours with repetitive tasks.

Overall Speed: Showdown

Long Tail Pro ( Try Today)


Notes: Long Tail Pro seemed to vary the most in terms of speed. Oddly enough, the same action would often result in significantly different load times. #whatsupwiththat

SEMRush  ( Free Trail for 7 days)


Notes: I doubt anyone would describe SEMRush as a slow tool. Considering the volume of keywords it pulls in, I’d say it’s well optimized for speed.

Ahrefs Keywords Explorer

Notes: I found that Ahref’s offered very similar speeds to SEMRush. Again, we’re working with HUGE amounts of data, so scoring this high is commendable.

SERPed ( Try it today)


Notes: SERPStat was well rounded in terms of overall speed. It didn’t blow me away but I certaintly had no complaints.

Keyword Research Tools Comparison Table

So now we’ve covered the crucial features to look for when buying a keyword research tool, we can start to see how certain tools stack up.

The table below compares some of the most popular keyword research tools on the market today.

Tool Type Suggestions Search Trend Keyword Difficulty SERP Analysis Request Limitations Overall Speed


Long Tail Pro Good (3/5) N/A (0/5) Great (4/5) Good (3/5) Average (2/5) Good (3/5)


Excellent (5/5) Good (4/5) Excellent (5/5) Excellent (5/5)

Excellent (5/5)

Excellent (5/5)


Excellent (4/5)

Excellent (5/5)

Excellent (5/5)

Great (4/5) Excellent (5/5)

Great (4/5)

SERPed Great (4/5) Good (3/5) N/A (0/5) N/A (0/5) Great (4/5)



Keyword Research Tools Review

Now that you have a grasp of what to look for in a keyword research tool, it’s time to look at some of your options in a bit more detail.

Most of the following tools have been thoroughly reviewed in their own, individual posts, but I’ve included a short and sweet version to give you an idea of how it fared.



Bhardwaj Brothers
Hey Readers, Welcome to my blog ByNext. I'm Akash Bhardwaj, a professional-blogger from New Delhi, India.

I started ByNext as a passion and now it's empowering more than 500,00+ readers globally and helping them to make money with their blog.

Here at ByNext I write about Starting & managing a blog, WordPress, Social-media, SEO and Making Money online.

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