8 Free Keyword Planning Tools (that aren’t Google Keyword Planner)

Oh keyword planning, how I love thee…

No seriously, I enjoy it. It combines my love for brainstorming, list-making and spying (thank you Harriet) all in one.

But to many, I know it’s a chore. Such a chore that you might not even… do it.

keyword planning tools

Keyword planning tools

This post is my attempt to:

  1. Give you some user-friendly alternatives to Google Keyword Planner*

  2. Give you a SYSTEM to put into place when you sit down to an epic keyword planning session

*Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE GKP – but it really is so vast that I’d be better off giving a walkthrough in another post. Plus not everyone wants to set up an AdWords account – which you need in order to use the tool.

One thing before we get started…

You’ll want a spreadsheet to record these ideas in (just a simple one will do – we can add other stats like search volume and competitiveness later.)

Conveniently, I made a beautiful spreadsheet for you! You can grab it for free below:

Download Your Keyword Planning Spreadsheet

How to use it:

  • If you’re signed into Google, simply click ‘Use this template’ then go to ‘File > Save and save it to your documents and start filling it in with your information.
  • If you want it on your local machine, go to the Google Docs version and use the File > Download As to save it as your desired file type.

Without further ado, let’s deep dive into…

8 Free Keyword Planning Tools

(that aren’t Google Keyword Planner)


1. Spider Diagrams

keyword planning tools spider diagram

Whaaaat? A non-digital tool made the list? And the top the list at that!

For me, there’s no better place to start than with a good ol’ pen and paper. Our minds apparently work differently when wielding the pen as opposed to the keyboard, making us more likely to get a better grasp of the task at hand.

Plus, for us visual learners, we will most likely benefit from visual thinking as well.

How to do it

Create a spider-diagram with one of your main keywords at the centre. It’s unlikely this will be super-specific and therefore it’s probably going to be pretty competitive in terms of search engine ranking.

That’s when the more niche keywords come in. Draw these as offs-hoots from your main keyword.

You can repeat this with other main keywords you’re considering, and go a step further by adding more arms to the niche offshoots.

2. Forums

keyword planning tools forums

As awesome as your own ideas are, they can’t tell you whether people are actually searching for these keywords or not.

l thought forums were a bit ‘old School’ internet marketing, but I realise new how much of a treasure trove they are.

It’s a great place to find ‘long tail’ keyword ideas.

Why would I want these 'long tail' keywords?

Glad you asked!

Long tail keywords are the phrases comprised of four or more words (like how we used to use Ask Jeeves – anyone else remember that?)

They’re super handy because they actually make up a huge chunk of online searches – even if they sound a little obscure.

Plus they’ve got the advantage of being:

  • less competitive (than those main keywords aka. ‘head’ keywords
  • convert better (the searcher wants something specific so they’re more likely to click and follow through)

These are where you find people with problems and they are the folk you can help.

How to do it

Step 1: Search in Google

Use these strings in the Google search bar to fetch your keyword-related questions in forums:

“keyword” + “forum”

“keyword” + “board”

“keyword” + “powered by vbulletin”

This will give you results from forums and Q&A sites (like Yahoo! Answers) and provide you with oodles of keyword inspo.

For example, a search for a broad term like ‘yoga’ might generate a bunch of questions about a specific kind of yoga – THAT’s the gold.

Step 2: Search in Boardreader.com

This is a beautiful, basic tool that just works. It searches forums in Imdb, Yuku, Lefora and Spring for your keywords, and you can sort by date.

The downside? It doesn’t search ALL forums. But still: big time saver.

3. Moz Bar

keyword planning tools moz bar

I’ve mentioned my love for Moz before, but this time I’ll dig in to how we can use the Moz Bar.

Here’s where the spying comes in – mwahaha…

Don’t worry – we’ll only be using this for the power of good (plus, its more than likely your competitors will do the same to you)

How to do it

Step 1: Install MozBar

It’s a free plugin for Chrome and Firefox. Grab it now.

Step 2: Navigate to your #1 competitors site

We’re looking for the common keywords being used. H1 titles will be a good indicator of the number #1 keyword they’re shooting for. H2 titles will hopefully give an indication of more specific keywords that are related.keyword planning Moz Pay attention to the words at the beginning of the list – if your competitor knows what they are doing, that’s where they’ll stick their front-runners.

keyword planning Moz

Tip: don’t bother with meta keywords on your own site – apparently Google doesn’t look at them. But if your competitor doesn’t know this it can be a great place to look for MWAR keyword ideas!

4. Your own site

keyword planning tools own site

If you have a good amount of existing traffic already, it makes sense to see what of keywords you’re already ranking for.

How to do it

Step 1: Log into Google Search Console

(Hopefully you have this all set up and configured, but if not, this is a nifty guide.)

Step 2: Navigate to Search Traffic > Search Analytics

This will pull up the crazy searches that come into your site.

Step 3: Sort results

Backlinko recommends sorting your search queries by Average Position, then scrolling to those in position 11 or above. You have more of a chance of ranking for these.

Google search console queries

Anything that sounds relevant? Get it in your keyword list.

5. Google Trends

keyword planning tools google trends

This is a fun tool I only recently discovered.

Not only has it got a super simple, droolworthy interface, it’s perfect for working out which of your keywords is likely to be on the rise (aka those worth investing in.)

How to do it

Step 1: Hop to Google Trends

Step 2: Enter a keyword

Things to look out for:

  • What countries are searching most for your keyword
  • Trends of searches over a time period
  • Google’s ‘forecast’ ie. a prediction of search volume over the coming months (yes, I believe Google can see into the future)

6. Google Correlate

keyword planning tools google correlate

Another lesser-known tool I’m obsessed with.

How to do it

Step 1: Head to Google Correlate

Step 2: Filter by the country you want and enter your keyword

You’ll get shown the top search terms people who searched your keyword ALSO searched for. It’s so interesting – I could use it for hours!… #SEOgeek

You can also see a graph of search volume related to each of those correlated keywords, much like Google Trends will do.

Google Correlate

7. Searches related to…

keyword planning tools google searches related to

Don’t forget to scroll to the bottom!

Google’s related searches are a wealth of keyword-research gold, as they’re more likely to give you those long-tail keywords we gabbed about earlier.

How to do it

Step 1: Go to Google 

Step 2: Enter your keyword and scroll to the bottom of the page

There you’ll find your ‘Searches related to…’

8. Soovle

keyword planning tools google soovle

Soovle is another tool that’s so brilliantly simple it makes me happy as a Chinese buddha statue.

It shows you related keywords to your search from various search engines – worthwhile because yes, there are people who don’t use Google.

How to do it

Step 1: Skip to Soovle.com

Step 2: Enter you keyword

You can download the results as a CSV file too – perfect for plugging into your master spreadsheet, or Google Keyword Planner.

Props to these fantastic keyword-planning geniuses: Source #1, Source #2, Source #3, Source #4, Source #5

Do you use any other keyword planning tools?
Let me know in the comments below!

(Alternatively send me a tweet @creativeintro to let me know if you found this useful)