I started my blog in November 2018 and did not sign up for Keysearch until August 2019. In this Keysearch review, find out why, whether I’ve been happy with Keysearch or not, what Keysearch can do for you, and how other options compare. Scroll down or use the jump links below to get to what you’re most interested in.
- Why did I sign up for Keysearch?
- Why do I need a keyword research tool?
- Keysearch features
- My favorite Keysearch tools
- Other free or cheap keyword research tools
Why did I sign up for Keysearch?
I delayed signing up for a paid tool for about ten months after starting my blog. I’m sure most of you all know why, because when you’re a beginner blogger you have to be very choosy about how much cash you burn, and what you spend it on.
I used cheaper or free alternative tools to get by until then (see other tool recommendations below), and then had a month-long trial for free of Keysearch. I was sold three days in.
You see, unlike a lot of beginner bloggers, I was very well acquainted with SEO basics and premium SEO tools such as Semrush and Ahrefs from my day job. If I’m being honest, Ahrefs is my one true love but not at that price tag.
So I was very quickly able to gauge how good and how useful Keysearch was, and frankly, I was blown away with the quality of the tool for such an affordable price.
Note: If you do decide to sign up for Keysearch, don’t forget to use the code KSDISC to get 20% off.
Why do I need a keyword research tool?
As I mentioned before, I signed up for Keysearch in August 2019. I qualified for Mediavine (a premium ad-management service) in November 2019. A total coincidence? I think not. You can read all about my journey as a blogger from the very beginning in my income reports section.
Yes, I had some vague SEO efforts going on before. But signing up for Keysearch not only allowed me to do a lot more keyword research, but it also helped me to see what I was already ranking on and how to improve existing content for some quick traffic gains.
So why do you need a keyword research tool? In a nutshell, whether you’re a beginner or more intermediate blogger, bloggers tend to want more traffic overall, or more qualified traffic.
You can continue slinging article after article and post after post into the great beyond of the Internet and hope that some of it sticks and some magic happens.
Or, you can actually plan to succeed, and measure your success. That’s what you need a keyword research tool for. Find keywords that you can actually rank well on, so that you’re on the first page of Google, and in turn receive actual traffic. After all, we all know where Google hides the dead bodies (the second page of search results).
Analyze what your competitors are doing and whether it’s working. Above all, it’s important that you have picked the correct niche, and some accurate search volume data, and a view on how difficult it’s going to be to rank in that niche will set you right from the start.
Sign up for a free trial of Keysearch and you’ll be greeted with the following screen when you login. To examine the features on offer, let’s check out the top menu. Note that for some strange reason both “Home” and “Keyword Research” go to the same page, which is the Keyword Research page, so I’m ignoring the “Home” section in the menu.
- Keyword Research
- Quick Difficulty
- My Lists
- Competitive Analysis
- Backlink Checker
- Organic Keywords
- Competitor Gap
- URL Metrics
- Page Analyzer
- Youtube Research
- Youtube Difficulty
- Youtube List
- Rank Tracking
- More Tools
- Content Assistant
- Opportunity Finder
I’ll talk more about the above features below as I go into more detail and explain what they can do and which ones are personally my favorites. But before we get into that I’d also like to point out this little drop-down menu when you click on your account icon in the upper-right corner.
In the menu you can see how many of your daily search credits (200 for me as I’m on the monthly starter plan) you’ve used up and I’d like to draw attention to the tutorials and SEO crash course section as being very useful for newer bloggers, or even more seasoned bloggers who have some SEO doubts. The tutorials are also excellent for helping you to get the most out of Keysearch.
It’s not mentioned in your Keysearch dashboard but there is a browser add-on for Keysearch! At the moment it just works for Chrome and Firefox. Just go here and install it and follow the instructions to enter the API for your account and you can do keyword research straight from your browser!
I don’t actually use this feature as I like to “switch off” sometimes and just browse without thinking about keyword research, but it’s a nice little extra.
The Keyword research page is where you should be spending most of your time. At the top on the left you can search for any keyword, pick the target region, and choose where to look from the following:
- Related keywords
- Database (Keysearch’s database – you can run free searches on this is you use up all your daily credits)
- Google suggest (Pro tip – you can use an underscore as a wildcard if Google suggest is selected!)
- Bing suggest
- Youtube suggest
- Competitors keywords
- Import keyword list
- Import KW planner CSV
I tend to stick with related keywords and sometimes Google suggest. Competitors’ keywords can also be a great source of keyword inspiration. On the right you’ll then see the keyword you searched for at the top as well as a list of related keywords underneath. You’ll be looking for the highest volume and lowest competition score possible.
One thing that really bugged me about Keysearch initially was that you have to manually go through and click on the blue “Check” boxes to see the difficulty score for each keyword. However, pro tip, if you click on the grey filter box above the keyword results section, you can actually set a maximum score level and it will clear out all the higher difficulty words from the list.
You can see in the above photo that I checked the difficulty for the first keyword “example” and it was in red. They are six different “difficulty” or “competition” levels in Keysearch which are all color-coded.
- Light blue – very easy (a unicorn keyword!)
- Fairly easy – light green
- Easy-moderate – green
- Moderate – yellow
- Fairly difficult – light red
- Very difficult – red
I tend to stay in the light–blue to green zones for difficulty. Then over on the right you’ll notice a graph showing when people tend to search for that keyword – this is useful for content planning. I try to write posts at least three months before needed so that they have time to rank, and make a note in my calendar to then promote them on social media around the time they are popular.
Below the graph you’ll see the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) analysis section. I always always always check this. A keyword can have great volume and be light green but if you see SERPs is full of heavy hitters, then it’s not going to be as easy it initially seemed to rank. I look to see if there are any spots I can take and base this on five things:
- DA – Domain Authority, a metric invented by Moz to show how strong a domain is. The higher a domain the more links it usually has and the older it is.
- Links – Ideally as few as possible to make it easier to rank above them.
Title, Desc (Description) and URL simply state whether the keyword is present in them or not. If the keyword isn’t present in all of them or any of them that’s also a good sign as you can make sure to have it present in yours and therefore increase the possibility you might rank better than posts that don’t have it in all three.
The SERP results are also golden for helping you to correctly guess user intent behind a search term, and pivot your content to best serve the user. Sometimes keywords can look great but then it turns out that they actually mean something completely different to what you thought or are queries on a restaurant rather than a dish, for example.
You can also click across to Rankings/Traffic and Social, to see how many keywords the articles rank on, what traffic they are getting, and more importantly how widely they were shared on Facebook or pinned. I say more importantly because if an article has a weak DA but is going viral on Facebook or Pinterest, then it can be pretty hard to outrank it.
My initial process for finding good keywords is to:
- Search for a root keyword.
- Filter the results by setting a maximum score for difficulty.
- Sort the results by volume from largest to least.
- Start going through the keywords from top to bottom and looking at the SERPs for each one to see if there are any positions I can take.
- Add good candidate keywords to a list.
Also in the Keyword Research drop-down menu are the Quick Difficulty, My Lists and Brainstorm tools. I don’t use these ones as much to be honest. The Quick Difficulty tool is where instead of putting in one keyword, you can put in many and it will tell you the difficulty/competition score and volume for each one.
I don’t use it because as I’m a food blogger, and as food blogging is pretty competitive, I’m usually on the hunt for long tail keywords with less competition so I usually want to see keywords that are related to my main search term, more than the information for the main search term.
My Lists is useful as you can keep a main list where you can add interesting keywords you stumble upon just be selecting them and clicking on the Save Keywords button. Then when it comes to content planning time you can use this list. You’re able to export the list to CSV format and import to Google Sheets, for example, where you could add deadlines and other information. Or you can save related keywords for articles where you’ll really need your SEO game to be top.
The Brainstorm tool is handy for when you’re a bit lost or struggling to come up with keyword ideas. Basically you start typing any search term and it will show you common searches starting with the term you entered, in Google, Yahoo, Bing, Youtube, Amazon and Ebay.
The Keysearch Explorer section is another personal favorite of mine. You can type in any URL and select either the entire domain or that specific URL and return information on the strength of the domain/page, how many backlinks they have and what they are, the top keywords, and top competitors, among other interesting tidbits.
This is really handy and can be used in so many different ways. For example, you can run your own domain through and see how the land lies and who your competitors are. Or, if you’re stuck and looking for new keyword ideas, you can run your competitors through the Explorer tool and see what their keywords are. Finally, when writing a new article you can use it to check what the other pages on page one have going for them and see if you’ve forgotten any related keywords.
Under the Competitive Analysis drop-down menu you have the Backlink Checker, Organic Keywords, Competitor Gap, URL Metrics, and Page Analyzer.
I have to admit that I just use the Backlink Checker as a quick easy way to examine my own Backlinks, but if you find any 404 pages and you’ve written similar content, you can use it to check who linked to that page and then contact them and offer your page as a solution instead (otherwise known as broken link building 101). Nobody likes linking out to 404s.
The Organic Keywords page pulls out the keywords, position, volume and traffic for a specific page or domain – I don’t usually use this one much as it’s I get this information, as well as backlink information, from the Explorer tab.
The Competitor Gap will pull out keywords that your competitors are ranking on but you are not. It can be a useful tool, especially when doing keyword research and content planning, but it’s not something I use a lot as I prefer to let my competitors do their own thing while I do mine. Food bloggers are pretty nice and it’s not exactly a cutthroat business, so I feel like this might be a more useful tool in more competitive niches.
URL Metrics is another tool I don’t use. You can enter in several URLS and their DA, links information etc. will all be pulled out. I don’t use it much as it’s basically the same information shown in the SERP Analysis box in the Keyword Research tab.
Page Analyzer – this is my favourite tool out of all the Competitive Analysis tools! Plug in any URL and you will get a huge amount of information about the URL metrics, SEO content, mobile-friendliness, page speed insights and more! In theory you can use it to sneak on competitors but its really a goldmine when applied to your own website. Run pages through it and take note of any missing alt tags and/or improvements that need to be made. Particularly useful for beginner bloggers as it even analyses URL structures and gives advise on how to make them more user and search engine-friendly.
This is a newer section and as I’m not on Youtube, it’s not one I ever use but I imagine it would be very useful for Youtubers or people who have blog-related Youtube channels. It has a Youtube-specific research tool (called Youtube Research which looks exactly like the keyword analysis tool, see above photo) but returns more Youtube-useful metrics such as views, age, title and description.
It also has Youtube Difficulty section, and a Youtube Lists section where you can keep your Youtube keyword lists separately to researched keywords for written posts.
This is a tool I love. You can add keywords that your site is already ranking on and monitor as they rise or fall. New articles can be tracked under the main targeted keyword. It’s a great way to see if new posts are performing well. If I had to nitpick I would say that it doesn’t seem to update as quickly as Ahrefs, and the starter pack only allows tracking for 50 keywords which is nowhere near enough. The Keysearch pro package allows for up to 150 tracked keywords.
I would stick with using this section to just track your most important keywords, or the ones that bring the most traffic. For everything else, I’d recommend signing up for a free Ahrefs Webmaster Tools account. You can then click on “Organic Keywords” from your dashboard, and then “Organic Keywords – movements” from the left hand pane and you can see all your rank changes for the previous five months.
The Content Assistant is a brilliant little gem found under the “more tools” drop-down menu. You type in the main keyword you’re trying to rank on, hit the search button, and then copy and paste the text from your post into the black document section under the search bar. On the right side will appear some truly useful goodies.
For example, the average word count of pages that rank on the first page of Google for that search term, recommended keywords – if your content contains them or needs more, and must-have related keywords.
The only fly in the ointment for me is that you can’t copy and paste from your WordPress post editing screen into it, as it will copy over all the html. You need to either write in it from the start, copy and paste from a word or Google document, or preview your WordPress draft and copy and paste all the writing into it. Don’t worry if you select images as well when copying, they won’t transfer over.
It’s a neat tool to use as a final pre-publishing SEO check, or to quickly check posts that are underperforming.
The last Keysearch feature, also found underneath the “More Tools” drop-down menu, the opportunity finder is a great tool for those who are actively linkbuilding.
Simply enter in the main Keyword for any post that you want to improve the ranking on, and select whether you’re looking for guest posts, forums or blogs. I don’t do link outreach and the few times I’ve tested it for recipes it hasn’t yielded many results, but it definitely has potential!
My favorite Keysearch tools
In summary, my favorite Keysearch tools or features, or basically the ones that I think are most useful for bloggers, in particular food bloggers, in order of importance are:
- Keyword Research
- Rank Tracking
- Content Assistant
- Page Analyzer
These ones are where I recommend you concentrate your attention rather than getting overwhelmed by all the features and flitting from tool to tool. The Keyword Research tool is worth its weight in gold all by itself and is definitely the most important and most used feature. Use it and use it wisely – if you really want to see traffic you have to invest effort into SEO and do your research BEFORE you start writing or creating posts.
Particularly if you’re starting out, try to aim for keywords where the competition score is blue (which is under 20 score in the filter section). You can search for broader more common keywords but niche down into the smaller volume lower competition keywords initially.
Other free or cheap keyword research tools
Blogging is a business and to make money you have to spend money. Quality hosting (Big Scoots, Cloudways, Namehero etc.), a few great plugins (ShortPixel and WP Rocket for example), a light responsive theme (I recommend GeneratePress) and a keyword research tool are the ultimate ingredients for success.
But…it can take a while to earn enough money to justify the cost of all of the above. Start out with a quality host, a great theme (GeneratePress has a free version – start out with that) and a keyword research tool. It takes time to rank on Google and the longer you take to get a quality tool or do SEO research, the more posts you’ll have to rewrite or be unable to rank on.
Having said that, even though Keysearch is an incredibly cheap tool, here are a few options you can check out before spending money on it. In fact I highly recommend cycling through them and using up free keyword quotas and cheap trials until you’ve decided your blog is going well enough to justify investing in a keyword tool. That way, you’ll also have tried out most of the tools available and be better able to see what is a good fit for you and which one is the best value for money.
(Hint – I tried them all and Keysearch was definitely the best value for money)
Ahrefs is the king of keyword research tools, unfortunately it’s also incredibly expensive. However for $7 you can get a seven-day trial, which I highly recommend. You should then use those seven days to do as much keyword research as possible and have a long list of keywords to use as the basis of posts. After your trial is up you can still use the account in webmaster tools mode and see how your posts are ranking and whether they need to be tweaked a bit with regards to keywords.
A high caliber tool, similar in price and quality to Ahrefs, Semrush has a free 7-day trial (use the keyword magic tool). After the trial you can also continue to get 10 free searches a day!
Moz has a keyword research tool which allows you to run 10 free keyword searches a month.
Keywords everywhere is a browser extension that enables quick keyword research. Personally, I was never a fan, we did a comparison of search tools in the day job and I found it to be quite inaccurate, but it did used to be free. Now you need to purchase credits in order to search. While still quite cheap and reasonably priced at $10 for 100,000 credits, at one credit per keyword search, I still don’t think it’s worth it.
With Keysearch starter you get 60,000 searches a month for seven dollars more, plus all the other features, and you can still use the database if you run out of credits.
Neil Patel’s tool Ubersuggest used to be free but is now a paid tool. It has a lot of features and is reasonably cheap but not as cheap as Keysearch. I’ve never been a huge fan, it seems to me to be more geared towards generating leads and collecting emails for Patel’s SEO agency, and I know several bloggers who switched from it to Keysearch and were happier, but definitely take it for a spin and see how it compares.
You can use Ubersuggest for three free searches a day. Anything more you’ll need to sign up for, with the cheapest monthly plan coming in at $35 a month, or alternatively you can pay a one-off lifetime access fee of $352.
Keysearch itself has a one month free trial! Try it out yourself and see. You can also use this code KSDISC to get 20% off if you do decide to pay for it after finishing your trial.
So let’s get down to brass tacks and see how much Keysearch actually costs. For starters, there are two different types of Keysearch packages, Keysearch Starter and Keysearch Pro. As a one-woman show running a food blog, the Starter package is fine for my needs.
However if you have more than one website, work as a team, have writers working for you chewing out content etc. then the Pro package might be more suitable for you. Let’s see side by side comparison of the two packages:
|Features||Keysearch Starter||Keysearch Pro|
As you can see, you can opt to pay a monthly amount or a yearly amount, with the yearly amount netting some considerable savings across both packages. Both packages have the same access to Keysearch features like the content assistant, youtube research, explorer, lists, competitive analysis etc. The only difference lies in the amount of daily credits you have, and number of keywords you can track.
1 credit equals 1 keyword search, although note that backlink and explorer searches use up 5 credits. I very rarely run out of daily credits and when I do it tends to be when I’m batching a lot of keyword research/content planning in which case I just finish off my planning the next day when the credits reset. If you’re not sure how many credits you’ll need, I’d suggest trying the Starter package on a monthly basis, and then seeing if you’d need to upgrade to Pro or not.
On the monthly package there is no minimum sign-up period either, so you can cancel whenever you want.
In summary, Keysearch is a great tool that gives great value for money. You might not need all of its bells and whistles, the Youtube research for example. And there is the odd niggle like the limit on rank tracking keywords being, in my honest opinion, insufficient across both packages. But there is no other tool which will give you such premium features at such an economical price and it’s the reason that I use it.
The keyword research tool, explorer (for competitive analysis) and content assistant tools are so useful that any one of them alone would justify shelling out for Keysearch. As I said above, tehre are also some limited free tools and inexpensive trials you can try out before opting to sign up for Keysearch, and I highly encourage you to try them out so you can compare before you buy, including taking advantage of the free one month trial of Keysearch.
When you decide to buy, come on back here and grab your code for 20% off and opt in to buying either the monthly Starter package for $17, the annual Starter package for $169, or the Pro package at $34 monthly or $279 in one annual payment. If you do sign up, don’t forget to use the discount code KSDISC at checkout to get 20% off.
Like the title of this article says, this is an honest Keysearch review asking whether it’s worth it – and the answer is a resounding yes.