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Keyword Research Tools

Keyword research is an integral part of both SEO and PPC planning. Choosing the right tool to aide keyword research can make a big difference. Google Keyword Planner (GKP), Ahrefs, and Semrush offer varying insights into search volumes, each providing unique value based on how they interpret and present data.

Anyone performing keyword research should be aware of the differences between tools and software, which could create huge misconceptions around opportunity levels and leading to wrong decisions being made.

Google Keyword Planner

Google Keyword Planner simplifies data by putting similar keywords into “buckets”, aggregating their search volumes. For instance, “jigsaw puzzles” and other related terms are grouped to give an overall search volume estimate of 40,500 searches per month. This approach provides a broad view of search trends but lacks specificity.


Ahrefs, on the other hand, refines Google Keyword Planner data by “ungrouping” keyword clusters and applying its own click-through rate models. This results in more precise search volumes, like the 21,000 searches per month estimate for “jigsaw puzzle.” The detailed insights from Ahrefs allow users to target more specific keywords effectively.


Semrush relies on its proprietary algorithms, combining third-party data and historical clickstream data for refined search volume estimates. A major 2022 update introduced an Anomaly Detection algorithm and NLP (Natural Language Processing) to validate and process data, ensuring higher accuracy. Comparative studies have shown Semrush’s quality, which often aligns closely with Ahrefs in terms of granularity.

Choosing the Right Tool

The choice between these tools depends on your goals. If you’re looking to understand the overall search landscape, GKP’s aggregate data is useful. For more granular insights, Ahrefs and Semrush offer ungrouped data that reveals specific search trends.

At Herdl, we favour Ahrefs and Semrush due to the detailed insights they provide for specific keywords. This helps us to manage keyword groupings ourselves, giving more precise information to clients about keyword volumes and potential rankings.

Understanding these differences is crucial to avoid misconceptions and to make well-informed decisions in keyword research. Each tool has its own strengths, and being aware of them can lead to more accurate analyses and better SEO strategies.

If you’d like to learn more about our keyword research process or any of our other marketing services, please get in touch.

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