Digital Insights

SEO Benchmarks and KPI


Published: April 8, 2010

by Elisa Gabbert –

Sometimes a basic, free keyword suggestion tool just isn’t enough. If you’re ready to move beyond the limited functionality of most online tools to do more in-depth keyword research for SEO and pay-per-click campaigns, here are five advanced keyword research tools well worth checking out.

SEMRush: SEMRush is a competitive research tool that’s useful for both SEO and PPC keyword research and analysis. It has several pricing levels; most of the keyword information is available in the free version, but paid versions return more results. SEMRush offers several features that can help you determine the value and competitiveness of keywords:

* Keyword Trends, Cost and Volume – SEM Rush scrapes data from Google to tell you the average and current monthly search volume of a keyword, whether the keyword is trending up or down in use, and how competitive it is.
* Top Competitors for Your Keywords – You can view a list of the domains that rank for the same keywords as you, and you can also see how much overlap in keywords you have with a given domain.

This data is helpful for determining how you measure up to competitors for your top keywords. If you’re falling behind, you may need to drill down into your keywords and determine where you can increase relevance—potentially by expanding mid- and long-tail keywords. The downside is, all competitive tools have limited use, since what your competitors are doing isn’t necessarily going to work for you.Independent keyword research is crucial for gaining a competitive edge.

Compete: As the name suggests, Compete is another competitive intelligence tool. A Compete account allows you to compare traffic and engagement metrics for competitive sites as well as analyze competitors’ keyword strategies.

Analytics tools include:

* Search Analytics: Find search referrals for a given site or category or enter a keyword to see which sites get traffic from it.
* Referral Analytics: Enter a site or category to see which websites send traffic to it and get traffic from it.

With a Pro account you can also create custom ranked lists based on growth trajectory, upstream and downstream traffic and more. As with SEMRush, Compete can give you a better idea of how your keyword marketing measures up to that of other businesses in your space. However, you’ll need to supplement this data with your own, personalized research.

Rank Tracker: Rank Tracker is a keyword rank checking tool offered by After you’ve done some initial keyword research and begun applying your keywords in search campaigns, you can use Rank Tracker to monitor the placement of your website in search engine results. Some of the key features include:

  • Unlimited Keyword Tracking in Over 600 Search Engines
  • Integrated Keyword Suggestion Tools
  • Auto-Pilot Tracking
  • Historical Rank Tracking
  • Customized Reports

It’s important to keep track of your search engine rankings so you’re aware of sudden drops (which can lead to huge losses in traffic) as well as discrepancies in performance across different search engines. But rankings in themselves are not as important as actual traffic and conversions, so you’ll need to supplement a rank checker with in-depth analytics and more discovery-focused tools.

WordStream Keyword Management for SEO: This product is similar to WordStream’s PPC keyword management software, but minus the PPC campaign creation tools and offered at a lower price point. It offers the same keyword suggestion capabilities as traditional tools like Wordtracker and Keyword Discovery, but layers on some great extras for roughly the same price. These extras include:

  • Personalized Keyword Suggestions
  • Keyword Analytics
  • Keyword Grouping and Organization
  • Content Authoring Tools

The benefits of WordStream arise from having your keyword research/discovery tools, your workbench (the database structure replaces Excel), and your analytics dashboard integrated in one platform. And the content authoring tools help you act on your best keywords by getting them live on your site. What’s missing, of course, is the ability to apply those keywords in paid search campaigns within the same tool, but you can get that functionality with the upgrade.

Raven: Raven is an SEO tool with several monthly pricing plans and a number of helpful features for search and Internet marketers. Features that are most relevant to the keyword research stage of your search campaigns include:

  • Paid and Organic Competitive Keyword Research
  • A “Keyword Manager” with Tags for Organization
  • A SERP Tracker for Keyword Rankings

Additional functionality includes website setup tools, link building tools, and content management features. This is a lot of functionality in one SEO tool, but with such a broad focus, you may find that Raven doesn’t meet all your specific keyword research needs.