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When it comes to SEO and marketing online, we're all subject to the whim of the search engines. One of the biggest struggles for any marketer is knowing what keywords to use, where their site ranks, and what similar keywords might also be useful. Here are three tools available that can give any marketer some extra insight.


The Google Keyword Planner is probably the most comprehensive tool out there. It's always free, but the metrics might not be as easy to understand as some of the other tools available. Since it's always free, though, it's the most widely used. For smaller sites or those just starting out or those with a small marketing budget, Google's Keyword Planner is a great solution.


SpyFu is a Phoenix-area startup that is, hands-down, the best tool out there for keyword research and PPC (pay-per-click) campaign planning. You can see where you rank for both organic and paid searches, effectiveness of ads over time (including a complete history which is really cool), and you can see how your competitors are ranking. If you're in an industry that is highly competitive (keywords are routinely $15+ per click), this is your best bet to find the "hidden gems" that will give you the greatest return. This being one of the best tools available, though, means it's also the most costly. Give the free tier a whirl and see what it can offer before you sign up.


Pro Rank Tracker falls into a tier between the free Keyword Planner from Google and SpyFu's power tool. It's free tier gives marketers a taste for what it can offer and really allows you to measure performance over time (where Keyword Planner allows you to plan your search engine marketing and SpyFu allows both planning and performance evaluation).

When making your decision, consider your comfort-level and budget for search engine marketing (SEM). If you can get away with using something like Google's Keyword Planner for free, there's no sense in spending money you don't have to. It might be worth investing in an online course to get started, though you should consider hiring an SEO expert to get the best results. If you're set on tackling it yourself, Udemy has several SEO starter courses available. When you're ready to kick your SEM campaign into high gear, make sure you bring the right tools (or hire someone with the right tools) for the job.