On blogs, and on webmaster forums all around the planet, internet business owners ask about the differences between free keyword research tools and software, or web-based tools, that they have to pay to use. This question is more than fair, too, as many keyword tools can be quite costly — especially for a “newbie”. Keyword research tools can run $50 to $1,000 or more for one-time purchase software, and $50 to hundreds of dollars per month for subscription-based tools. So, are the differences between the paid and free keyword tools worth the price tag?
First of all, you need to understand the differences between free keyword research tools and tools that you pay for, at least on a general level. At face value, it seems that many free keyword tools, more or less, provide the same types of information that paid tools provide — number of competitors, estimated daily or monthly searches, related keywords, and sometimes even the KEI of a particular keyphrase. However, even with all of their similarities, many for-payment keyword tools exceed the reach of their free counterparts in less obvious ways.
For instance, many paid keyword tools include the convenience of offering a number features on one screen, or at most, one-click away from the screen you’re viewing. In other words, paid keyword tools, more often than not, are designed to allow you to perform all of your keyword research from the same interface.
In contrast to that — if you utilize free keyword tools to perform your research, there’s a good chance that you’re going to use several different tools — tools on different websites, and sometimes even a combination of desktop software and web-based software. Not only can this be inconvenient, but it can be time consuming as well.
Also, paid keyword tools tend to delve deeper into the keyword market. Not only can you receive more data from paid keyword tools, some also help you discover lateral keywords, or keyword phrases that are closely related to your primary keyphrase, but may or may not contain the primary keyphrase, and which are oftentimes ignored by your competition.
As an example, let’s say that you run a website devoted to headaches — you do your keyword research on “headaches” and you get all of the commonly-returned suggestions relating to the key term. However, with a lateral keyword suggestion tool, you might discover terms like arthritis, pain, back pain, neck pain, healthcare, health, doctor, and so forth — keywords closely related to headaches, but just far enough out of the norm to remain outside of the reach of traditional keyword tools.
Feature differences aside, there is another important factor to consider — your needs. If you only need occasional keyword research, and you only cater to one market — subscription-based keyword research services might be overkill. However, if you are constantly working in new keyword markets, or you operate a business that requires ongoing keyword research — the paid solution is oftentimes completely justifiable.
Purchasing a keyword research tool, or subscribing to a service, is highly recommended under certain conditions. If you need in-depth research on your keyword market, if you prefer an all-in-one solution instead of using several different tools, or if you regularly need to perform research in different markets — you might want to consider pursuing the paid route. For the occasional keyword research though, free keyword tools can work just fine.