Using SEMRush for keyword research is considered to be the holy grail by many digital marketers.
Whether you’re keeping tabs on the competition, performing on-page and off-page search engine optimization or determining bidding amounts on keyword phrases, SEMRush has an answer to just about any question you might have when it comes to stepping up your digital marketing game.
However, for the freelance digital marketer it can be costly with monthly subscriptions starting at a little more than $100 a month, encouraging users to search for a SEMRush alternative that doesn’t break the bank.
In my research I stumbled upon Keysearch, a keyword research seo tool that offers much of the same functionality as SEMRush for a fraction of the cost at just $17 a month.
Read our full review of Keysearch and what makes it the perfect affordable SEO tool for keyword research and competitive analyses.
Below is a quick summary of the features that Keysearch offers:
Founded by Dan Pfeffer in 2015, Keysearch initially started a niche keyword research software that has expanded into a full suite of marketing/SEO tools.
The goal for Keysearch is to offer quality and affordable SEO tools that anyone can use - this includes eliminating long learning curves and overly complicated features that aren’t needed by a majority of users that perform their own SEO keyword research.
Below you’ll find my walkthrough of Keysearch and the various features it offers:
Right off the bat, you’ll want to go into the Keyword Research Tab and type in a main keyword in the search box.
You can change the search to target specific geo-locations, or find data using national/world-wide metrics.
After that, you’ll select “related Keywords” and click “search” to pull up a quick view of your desired keyword.
Keysearch will provide information such as the difficulty score; monthly search volume; the top URLs that rank for that given word; and average cost-per-click spend on that keyword for paid advertising.
It will also provide search trends for this keyword, displaying seasonal trends for how frequently that term is searched for throughout the year.
Beyond these initial findings, the right-hand display will show several other related keyword suggestions that you can also target or use in your research.
You have the ability to filter this list of related keywords in the following ways:
When you search for a specific keyword, Keysearch will display a SERP analysis of the top 10 pages that rank for that given keyword.
Within that analysis, Keysearch will display the following metrics:
Keysearch will highlight these items as different colored boxes - the more green boxes you see, the better of a chance you’ll have to rank for that keyword. Yellow means that the keyword is moderately difficult to rank for, whereas red means you’ll have a hard time cracking the top 10 search results for that keyword phrase.
This tab will display every keyword that each of the URLs displayed in the table rank for. You can open this up as an Excel document, parse through your competitor’s ranked keywords and identify which keywords you may want to target in your content briefs.
This tab shows how often a URL has been shared on Pinterest and Facebook, which is useful for gauging what topics are shareable.
Once you’ve found several keywords, you can perform a bulk check to find the difficulty level associated with ranking for those terms.
This allows you to isolate keywords in specific groups to streamline your keyword management.
The branstorm feature will provide a variety of ideas and trending topics for keywords that you enter from the following sources:
The Explorer tab provides an overview of specific pages or domains that provide high-level information for the following metrics:
While Keysearch isn’t as robust as SEMRush or Ahrefs for updating old content for SEO, it offers the core essentials for a digital marketer looking to perform on-page SEO or competitive analysis to effectively rank for keywords.
As you might know, most web traffic still comes from organic search and a significant portion of clickthrough’s are on the first search engine results pages, making it of vital importance that your web pages are at least ranking on the first page of Google or Bing.
When performing research on keywords you want to rank for, the first step is to look at low competition, long tail keyword phrases that garner a decent chunk of monthly web traffic.
Some digital marketers will enter phrases into the Google search results to see what popular phrases come up and then use Google Search Console to determine the monthly traffic of those keywords, which can sometimes be inaccurate and time consuming.
Keysearch offers a browser extension that lists related search term phrases along with their monthly volume, CPC and PPC, saving time in determining what keyword phrase you want your web page to rank for when you’re in the first stages of crafting it.
Once you have a selected keyword phrase, it’s a matter of plugging it into the Keysearch platform for a quick SERP Analysis, which shows you what the keyword difficulty is for that phrase along with the pages that are currently ranking on the first page for that keyword phrase.
Keysearch is great because it shows a competition score on a scale of 0-100 for that keyword and if your website has a chance at effectively competing for that phrase in its Keyword Difficulty Checker Tool.
As an example, the term “semrush alternative” has a monthly volume of 1300 and a competitive score of 35, making it a great term to compete for when performing my on-page optimization for this article.
If the term was highly competitive, Keysearch displays similar keyword phrases that you can filter for the number of keywords, CPC, PPC and competitive score. It also shows in the dashboard other related search term phrases and the web pages that are currently ranking in the top 10 search results on Google.
For the SERP Analysis of the dashboard, Keysearch displays the following rankings for the sites you’re trying to outrank for a keyword phrase:
The main question that should come to mind when performing on-page SEO is “Can I create better content that’s more optimized than that of my competitors?” which makes the SERP Analysis portion of Keysearch the cornerstone of your keyword research.
You can export a CSV or a PDF file containing the details about the Keyword found in the dashboard, as well as get Keyword data and keyword suggestions from Google Adwords Keyword Planner, YouTube Suggest, Bing Suggest, Keysearch Database and a few others.
The Quick Difficulty Tracker Tool allows you to check the difficulty and volume for one keyword at a time, which can be a huge time-saver if you’re using the tool to bulk-check the difficulty of up to 50 keywords at once.
The Keyword Research portion of Keysearch also allows you to Brainstorm topics that are currently trending in the digital sphere. By typing an idea and Keysearch will aggregate the most popular Twitter and Google Trends, creating ideas for content that will resonate with your audience.
This section will check the backlinks of your competitors and how authoritative the domains are for the pages you want to compare.
A gripe that I have with SEMRush is how it aggregates backlinks, which I’ve found to be somewhat inaccurate, whereas Keysearch seems to be more realistic in determining what Nofollow and Dofollow links you have pointed at your website when you're link building.
You can use Keysearch to filter and view 50, 100, 250, 1000 or all the backlinks at once alongside exporting the backlinks of any website or landing page.
Without going into the Google Search Console you can check to see what keywords your website is currently ranking for and how much estimated traffic your website should be receiving for those keywords.
It also provides a quick ranking distribution bar table to glance at for any ranking changes and optimization opportunities.
Like I mentioned earlier, Keysearch offers a competitive analysis tool to check specific backlinks, how you’re ranking in comparison to your competition with organic keywords, your competitor gap, URL metrics and a page analyzer feature.
Performing competitor analysis is extremely important when it comes to SEO and Keysearch will highlight what you both rank for, how you rank for those keywords and what your domain strength, or the quality of your website, is compared to that of the competition.
By using the competitive analysis tool you can check to see what keywords your competition is ranking for that your site isn’t and perform on-page optimization accordingly.
While Google is the biggest search engine to prioritize, there are other search engines that you can perform research for using Keysearch.
You can uncover related keywords, search volumes, keyword difficulty scores and other metrics on Amazon, Bing, YouTube, and Ebay.
If you’re trying to break into the digital video space, Keysearch has a Youtube Research tab that acts in a similar way to the Keyword Research portion of the dashboard.
It comes with a table just like the Keyword Analysis Tool and will display the URLs of the videos you’re competing with along with other metrics like Video Age, Likes, Dislikes, Comments and if the keyword is in the title or description.
Like the Keyword Research Tool there is a quick difficulty checker and a keyword suggestion box with multiple keywords that you might want to consider.
Once you’ve created or updated your content, Keysearch has a Rank Tracking Feature where you can see if your optimization efforts are successful or not.
After you add a keyword and URL to this portion of the dashboard, Keysearch will track that page for any position changes for that keyword, showing you where you rank for that keyword, the monthly search volume and your page authority.
You can also set it up to receive email notifications when there are any changes in ranking for that keyword.
Large spikes and drops are common in this portion of the tool, but that’s normal as Google likes to temporarily move your SERP positioning to see how it performs higher up in the rankings.
A new feature that Keysearch is beta testing is its Content Assistant Tool. It’s great for plugging in a keyword phrase to see the average word count for the Google 1st page web page results and must have LSI keywords that are most commonly used within the 1st page results of Google.
All you do is copy and paste your content into the dashboard and it will highlight keyword opportunities and how you stack up with the competition in the LSI keywords you have included in your content.
The Content Assistant Tool also highlights suggested keyword phrases to include in your URL or as sub-heads on your page, relevant content snippets from the SERP Top Pages, and popular questions found on your topic to also include as good sub-heads.
Here are a few other cool features for this part of the tool:
This section displays relevant snippets from other pages that you can use in your research to emulate.
The questions section displays popular questions related to a given topic - typically these questions are in Google’s “People Also Ask” section in the SERPs, but it’s convenient that these are now located under one place in Keysearch to reference for long-tail keyword targeting.
This tab simply displays the first page results on Google - like I’ve mentioned, it includes word counts, page titles, and URLs to competitor pages.
Are you wondering how you stack up to the competition? You can now compare your page with top competitor URLs to see how they’re performing against you, using metrics such as backlinks, keyword rankings, site speeds, and more.
You can also perform a competitor gap analysis on a domain level to see which keywords your competitors either outrank you for, or what keywords you don’t rank for at all, but your competitors do.
The page analyzer feature is helpful in performing on-page optimization and areas of opportunity beyond strictly content such as site load speed, on-page coding elements like H-tags and keyword consistency.
This new offering is great, as it allows you to find opportunities for guest posting on websites, blogs, or related forums. The opportunity finder will generate a list of websites that allow guest post submissions.
Keysearch is the perfect alternative to SEMRush or Ahrefs.
While SEMRush offers a more robust dashboard with a lot more features, Keysearch also offers much of the core essentials that are the staple to any optimization efforts.
Both offer competition monitoring to take a quick look at the overall performance of your competition’s web presence such as keywords, where they rank and the value of those keywords.
I find the backlinking feature of Keysearch to be more accurate than SEMRush, as I don’t entirely understand how SEMRush goes about compiling backlinks for websites.
They both offer the ability to distinguish between worthy and spam backlinks that might be pulling down the credibility of your website and what kind of backlinks are drawing more traffic for you.
Keysearch offers many high-quality features to up your seo efforts with a simple dashboard design that’s beginner-friendly and user-oriented.
The dashboard is user-friendly, you can sign up for a free trial to determine if it’s the right solution for you, they have an active support staff, multiple tutorial videos and are constantly updating their system to offer new tools and increasing search limits.
Keysearch’s only pitfall is that the website title is not visible in the Search Results table, showing URLs instead of the webpage titles which makes for trickier comparisons.
This is being rectified in the Content Assistant Tool, but it’s still in beta testing so that may change in the future.
As far as pricing goes, Keysearch pricing is $17 per month or a discounted price of $169 per year for its starter pack, which gives you access to all of Keysearch’s features like 200 daily searches with analysis, 20 daily super searches and 80 rank tracker keywords.
The pro pack costs $34 for the monthly subscription with a discounted annual price of $279, which provides 500 daily searches with analysis, 50 daily super searches and 200 rank tracker keywords, making it a much more cost-effective option when compared to Ahrefs or SEMRush.
It's not difficult to find a Keysearch discount code, making the overall price even cheaper if you stumble upon a Keysearch coupon code.