KeySearch Review – Keyword Research on a Budget
KeySearch is a web-based keyword research tool that offers a wide range of features to help you find low competition keywords, spy on your competitors and track your SEO efforts.
This KeySearch review takes you through the main modules and features of this affordable keyword research software tool to find out whether it is worth your investment.
Compared to other, more expensive keyword research tools such as Semrush and Ahrefs, KeySearch stands out as being very affordable. But is KeySearch good enough to take your SEO efforts to the next level?
There is in fact one very important key feature missing in KeySearch. A feature that makes its competitors so popular. Which feature? Find out further below.
To purchase a KeySearch license, you can choose between a Starter and a Pro plan. The Starter plan is quite generous so I would recommend to begin with that and upgrade later if you’re happy with it. Use coupon code KSDISC for a 25% discount.
A Starter plan currently costs $17 per month (or $169 per year) and a Pro plan will set you back $34 per month (or $279 per year). Both plans offer the same features, it’s just that with Pro plan you get more credits to spend. Payments are processed via PayPal and you can cancel your subscription at any time by removing the PayPal authorization.
1. KEYWORD RESEARCH
The Keyword Research module offers a large set of features related to keywords, difficulty scores, competitor analysis and much more.
When you enter this module, you start by submitting a keyword and let KeySearch spit out the top 10 ranking for that keyword, plus a very long list of related keywords. You can select a specific country or all countries.
In the right hand side of the screen, you’ll see that long list of keywords with search volume, CPC, PPC and Difficulty Score. Click on the Check button and KeySearch will regenerate all data based on that specific keyword including score.
In the left hand side of the screen, KeySearch displays the top 10 ranking for that keyword, including metrics such as PA/DA, links and some on-page SEO elements. It also shows you the search trends in the previous 12 months.
One thing I noticed here is that there were quite a few examples where the yes/no values for Title, Desc and URL were incorrect. Perhaps the software is still a bit buggy in this regard?
Below the table with the top 10, KeySearch displays a handful of search engine suggested keywords. You can then click on any of these suggestions, and KeySearch will analyze that particular keyword for you.
The Deep Analysis button, as the name suggests, gives you even more data around that keyword and the sites ranking for it. Some of these extra metrics are Trust Flow, Citation Flow, Alexa ranking and many more.
It also includes a table with a long list of LSI keywords, presented in three columns (one, two and three words). You can use these LSI keywords, or synonyms, in your articles in an attempt to avoid keyword stuffing.
It’s useful to have all of that data readily available without having to go and collect it all from external tools. Whether you really need all that information is up for debate.
One of the core features within the Keyword Research module is the Difficult Score. It’s a metric between 1 and 100 that indicates how difficult it would be to rank for a particular keyword.
This score is heavily based on the data presented in the table in the left part of the screen. Data such as Moz PA and DA, external links, title, description and URL. The table includes colors, with red indicating a challenge and green indicating an opportunity.
Here is a full list of the Difficulty Score colors that KeySearch uses to indicate difficulty levels:
Competition is very easy
Competition is fairly easy
Competition is easy-moderate
Competition is moderate
Competition is fairly difficult
Competition is very difficult
The issue with difficulty scores
The problem I see with this scoring and coloring system is that bloggers with limited SEO skills take it as gospel. The columns we see in that table with the top 10 are just a few very basic metrics that we could be taking into account when analyzing the competition.
But SEO and competitor analysis is so much more than that. Personally, I find that table quite misleading and it does not at all give users a realistic view on the competition in that top 10 for a given keyword.
While it is nice to instantly have that top 10 available for any chosen keyword, it should not be used to analyze the competitiveness of that keyword. In fact, those colors and scores can be very misleading and can give you a wrong impression of how strong the competition really is.
What to do instead?
If you really want to know how strong or how weak the competition is, you will need to go into all these articles and do a much deeper analysis. You will also need to have a closer look at their websites as a whole.
How strong is their on-page SEO? How in-depth is their content? Do these articles have a proper structure? What niches are these websites in? Are these websites well architectured? How old are these websites? How many articles do these websites have? Have these websites been updated consistently? Do these articles provides answers to user queries? And so on.
There are so many things to consider when analyzing competition, that you may as well completely ignore the scores and colors that KeySearch gives you. It’s misleading.
This is where advanced SEO skills kick in, which is something you’ll need to build up over time. Using KeySearch by itself doesn’t turn you into an SEO expert.
I also need to emphasize that Moz DA as a metric is flawed and should, in most cases, be ignored. Not only is the Moz DA score often inaccurate, a website’s high DA score may also have been achieved in a different niche.
So if your website is in a certain niche and you want to target a specific keyword that is closely related to your niche, then you may very well be able to outrank high DA websites such as Wikipedia. I have done this countless times myself.
It seems that KeySearch is putting far too much emphasis on the Moz PA/DA numbers in their Difficulty Score calculations.
This is where things get interesting. You can chuck in a website’s URL, select Competitors Keywords and KeySearch will return a list of all keywords that this website is ranking for.
This is a helpful feature when you want to know what a competitor is ranking for so you can try and replicate and improve some of their content and traffic.
The user interface in this feature is exactly the same as in the main keyword research screen. This does not make sense because the functionality is very different which is very confusing.
I did a few test in this feature and I must say that I found quite a lot of discrepancies between how many keywords KeySearch finds for domains, and how many keywords more expensive tools like Semrush and Ahrefs are able to pick up.
In general, Semrush and Ahrefs are able to find a lot more keywords than KeySearch can.
A few examples (US traffic)
1. The first example is backlinko.com:
KeySearch finds 296 keywords:
Semrush finds 24.0K (!) keywords:
Ahrefs finds 29.7K (!) keywords:
2. The second example is authorityhacker.com:
KeySearch finds 313 keywords:
Semrush finds 10.4K (!) keywords:
Ahrefs finds 13.8K (!) keywords:
As you can see, the differences here are huge. So huge that I was actually questioning myself whether I was perhaps doing something wrong in KeySearch.
I must say here though that Semrush and Ahrefs have restrictions around how many keywords you can actually see per subscription plan.
That missing feature
So that important missing feature I was talking about above in the intro? It’s this one:
You can’t submit a direct link to an article in this Competitors Keywords feature. It only handles domains. Nooooooo….
This is what I use Semrush and Ahrefs most for. I want to get a long list of keywords that a given article is ranking for so that I can select a bunch of them and write a better article.
I also use it to track my own articles. I want to find new, long tail keywords that my articles are (not yet) ranking for so that I can keep optimizing them.
That data is invaluable. It’s priceless. It’s awesome. It’s addictive. It’s what makes Semrush and Ahrefs so exciting. Sadly, KeySearch doesn’t offer this very important feature.
Here’s a quick start video going through some of the KeySearch features including the Keyword Research module:
2. QUICK DIFFICULTY
The Quick Difficulty feature is similar to the research module but has a different purpose. It allows you to bulk submit keywords and KeySearch will bulk check the difficulty scores for you and present them in the screen.
Before I say anything else, I must note that KeySearch is able to process bulk requests very easily and quickly without any issues.
It’s a useful feature as long as you understand what the data means. However, the issue with this feature is the same as I describe above. SEO in this day and age is simply not a matter of ticking a few boxes anymore.
Don’t think that when you put a keyword in the title, in the description, in the headers and throughout the content that you will rank in Google.
And if there are a few sites with a high Moz DA in that top 10, this doesn’t mean you can can’t rank for that particular keyword. Because you can.
Modern Day SEO
SEO simply doesn’t work like that anymore. The Google algorithm has changed so much over the years. SEO is not about following a simple checklist and implementing a bunch of on-page elements. SEO is much, much more than that.
Why do professional SEO consultants get paid so well? Because they can optimize a title tag and build a couple of links? Nope.
But the reality is though, a keyword research tool simply can’t do much more than that. It can’t replicate the Google algorithm and come up with an accurate and reliable difficulty score. And therefore it really needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Or in other words: it needs to be put in context.
My concern is though that users of KeySearch take this Difficulty Score as gospel and ignore (or are not aware of) other, much more important factors that determine which sites get ranked in the search results.
I have actually witnessed this myself in Facebook groups. People using KeySearch are constantly talking about that Difficult Score as being the absolute truth and they make crucial decisions based on it.
KeySearch does place a big emphasis on their Difficulty Score. It’s one of the core features of the tool and as such I need to be critical about it. My advice is to either ignore it or to use it as a starting point of a much broader analysis exercise.
3. MY LISTS
The My Lists module keeps track of all the keywords that you’ve saved over time. It’s a useful feature in the sense that you can come back here to quickly re-analyze keywords from the past.
The list quickly tells you the search volumes, CPC, PPC and Difficulty Score of given keywords in that list. You can have as many lists as you like. You could use lists for blog posts for example, with each blog post having its own list of keywords.
What’s also great is that you can quickly select a bunch of keywords from your lists and export them over to the Rank Tracker. More on that feature further below. You can also export these lists to CSV and PDF.
You can easily create lists and add keywords to My Lists using the Save Keywords button on the Keyword Research home page.
The purpose of the Brainstorm module is to give you more niche and keyword ideas. KeySearch does this by displaying the latest Twitter Trends, Amazon Movers and Google Trends. You can of course click on all links in this page and navigate to Twitter, Amazon and Google respectively.
Twitter Trends and Google Trends speak for themselves and are nice to have, but I found the Amazon Movers part quite interesting. This list basically gives you products in different categories that are selling well right now. This is particularly useful if you’re an Amazon Associate and you’re looking for new products to review and promote on your websites.
You can also type in words in the search bar at the top of the screen and KeySearch will spit out keyword suggestions for Google, Yahoo, Bing, YouTube, Amazon and eBay. You can then click on any suggestion and KeySearch will give you the option to dive deeper into this keyword and to calculate the difficulty score.
5. BACKLINK CHECKER
Unlike the Competitors Keywords feature, the Backlink Checker lets you check backlinks for the whole domain as well as for individual pages. This is useful as part of your competitor analysis exercise for a new article you are planning to write, or for existing articles that you want to build new links to.
But similar to my findings with the Competitor Keywords feature, I also found quite a lot of discrepancies between how many backlinks KeySearch finds for domains, and how many Semrush and Ahrefs are able to find.
In general, Semrush and Ahrefs are able to find many more backlinks than KeySearch can.
A few examples
1. The first example is keysearch.co:
KeySearch finds 174 backlinks for its own domain:
Semrush finds 2.8K (!) backlinks:
Ahrefs finds 8.9K (!) backlinks:
2. The second example is authorityhacker.com:
KeySearch finds 212 backlinks:
Semrush finds 6.9K (!) backlinks:
Ahrefs finds 7.2K (!) backlinks:
As you can see, these differences are significant.
6. URL METRICS
The URL Metrics section is pretty straightforward. Simply submit one or more URL’s and KeySearch will return a set of standard metrics per URL.
Examples of these metrics are Moz DA/PA, total backlinks and Alexa rank. It also includes social media stats but they don’t always appear to be correct, unless I am somehow misinterpreting the data presented.
The table with all the data can be conveniently exported to CSV and PDF.
One funny thing I noticed is that the number of total backlinks in this section does not match the number in the Backlink Tracker module. So obviously they are coming from different sources.
7. PAGE ANALYZER
I quite like this module. What you need to do is submit a URL (domain or article) and KeySearch will render a report with all sorts of mostly on-page SEO elements that are either good or bad.
This module is not groundbreaking by any means but it does the job and it’s nice to have quick access to.
One thing I need to point out is that this tool actually checks whether a given page has meta keywords defined. And if not, that page gets a big red flag. It even says “very bad”.
It’s disappointing that a modern keyword research tool in the year 2018 tells you to implement meta keywords. Enough said.
8. RANK TRACKER
The Rank Tracker module lets you submit keywords per URL (home page URL’s only) and then KeySearch will keep track of their rankings over time.
This is useful when you have certain articles written around main and long-tail keywords and you want to know how well the articles are going as time goes by. Based on that data you could then decide to optimize these articles or to let them sit and let Google do its job.
This is of course much easier than having to go into Google every day or week to see how your chosen keywords are tracking.
I must point out here that with the Starter plan you can track 40 keywords and with the Pro plan you can track 100 keywords. If you’re on the Starter plan and you’re keen to track more keywords, you can actually choose to buy more credits just for rank tracking. Currently, an extra 50 keywords to track would cost you $5, which is very affordable.
9. YOUTUBE RESEARCH
The YouTube Research module is very similar to the Keyword Research module. The main difference, not surprisingly, is that this module is focused on ranking on YouTube instead of in the search engines.
The user interface is also near identical which makes it very easy to use. It also gives you difficulty scores and various YouTube metrics and stats such as age, views, likes, dislikes, comments, title and description.
Just as with the Keyword Research module, the YouTube Research module also offers a separate Quick Difficulty and My Lists section that essentially work in the same way.
Here’s a – somewhat outdated – video about the YouTube Research module to give you a good idea what you can do with it:
Final Thoughts on This KeySearch Review
Hopefully this KeySearch review has provided you with some useful insights.
So, would I recommend KeySearch?
Yes and no.
Because it’s incredibly affordable. The tool is what it is. You get quite a lot of features for a very low price. But I can’t stress enough that using only KeySearch for your SEO efforts is not enough.
Plus, you need to be able to put things in perspective. Don’t take the scores and colors as gospel. In fact, I’d recommend you ignore it all-together.
Use KeySearch only for fact-based data. Use it to track rankings, to find new keyword ideas, to see SERP snapshots of keywords, to find keywords other websites are ranking for, etc.
Because Semrush and Ahrefs are much better tools. Full stop. But they are also much more expensive.
As mentioned above, not being able to submit a direct link to an article and then seeing what keywords that article is (and is not) ranking for, is the biggest miss in KeySearch.
This really is one of the most important features that more expensive keyword tools offer as it allows for much more effective keyword research.
In addition, the Backlink Checker doesn’t seem to be as advanced as it is in Semrush and Ahrefs.
KeySearch is an affordable keyword research tool, great for beginner or budget bloggers, but it does have its flaws. As long as you understand what to use it for and how to put the data it produces in the right context, KeySearch can be helpful.
Once you have a bigger budget available, I strongly recommend upgrading to Semrush or Ahrefs. These professional tools will truly take your SEO and organic rankings to the next level.