15 Aug

Definitive – Best Keyword Research Tool to Determine Keyword Competitiveness

My last post reviewed how effective MarketMuse was at predicting a piece of contents success in Google.

This post digs deeper into MANY keyword research tools to try and show what tools can help provide us an edge!

So… What is The Best Keyword Research Tool? What tool provides a keyword competition score that gives us the best ability to predict how well an article will do in Google?


Analysis Summary – What Tools Competition Score Correlated With a Higher Google Rank

The list below shows the tools ranked from the tools whose competition score was most positively correlated with a higher Google Ranking.

Comment 1 – The results surprised me with both Ahrefs and SEMRush underperforming my expectations and LongTail pro overperforming my expectations. I expected SECockpit to do terrible as the competition score it provides I never find to be a reliable analysis.

Comment 2 – The accuracy of this analysis essentially means those top 3 were tied. The margin of error would be larger then the difference between the results.

Based on this analysis I recommend using one of the top 3 tools when identifying keywords to create content for (it is now what we do at ContentRefined.com)! 

This post is going to help with exactly that, giving you the ability to choose the right tool available to give you a competitive advantage in targeting keywords that you can then turn into successfully ranking articles.

There are so many different websites and companies that have or are starting to develop keyword difficulty or SEO difficulty tools. But once you input a phrase and determine the existing competition and window of opportunity what weight should the number or percentage that they provide actually hold.

Previously in “Rank in Google with Certainty” I only analyzed Ferzy, SEMRush, and SECockpit on a very basic level. For this article I expanded that research to include ahrefs, Long Tail Pro, and cognitiveSEO while also including search volume influence (based on feedback from you in my last article).

I have also analyzed competition domain authority, trust flow, headline click-through-rate, and more but look for that to be shared in another post!


Now for the Fun Stuff (if you are a data geek!)

Using some articles from my various money site portfolio and all of Content Refined’ created content I have been able to compile enough data points to provide some statistical insight into predicting the performance of ranking an article around a certain keyword.

I have broken the 6 different tools into two tiers as the results within the tiers are statistically indifferent.

So here are the results…

Worst Performing Group (Worst Ability to Predict)

  • SECockpit

SECockpit keyword difficulty tool uses a percentage system. Scoring below 30% and as close to 10% while maintaining a reasonable search volume is a typical metric we use. However, with only a moderate correlation of 17% SECockpit has the least predictive tendency of the tested tools.


  • Ahrefs

Ahrefs provides an absolute number score out of 100 to determine the difficulty you would encounter to rank for a searched keyword.  While it only held a statistical correlation relevance of 23%, I do like that it provides a suggested required number of backlinks to go with the score.

NOTE – I was surprised by this result, the guys at AuthorityHacker who do great work had found AHrefs tool to be the best when it came to Keyword Difficulty but we found it to not perform very well.


  • SEMRush

With SEMRush you get a percentage score out of 100 with being below 70-75% as a target. Still only holding a moderate 25% correlation, SEMRush is the best of the tools found in our 2nd tier.


Best Performing Group (Best Ability To Predict How an Article Will Rank)

  • Ferzy

Ferzy is a newer tool on the market and will provide an absolute score out of 100 with varying levels of ratings categories. At 35% statistical correlation it offers to be one of the strongest predictors of keyword difficulty and ability to rank of the tools tested.


  • cognitiveSEO

cognitiveSEO is new to me and recently came out with a new keyword difficulty and content analyzing tool. Both seem to work great and at a 37% correlation it compares and competes well with some the more well known tools. The content analyzing tool offers a competitor to MarketMuse at a more reasonable price, but the effectiveness difference is still to be determined…(more to come on this in the future).


  • Long Tail Pro

Behold the Long Tail Pro, the final tool analyzed. Coming in with a statistical correlation of just under 40% it is the most predictive tool but not by much. I was surprised by this as LongTailPro has been around for a long time and I would have thought one of the newer tools would have come out with a better predictor.


Question – What if we adjust for search volume?

Monthly SearchesahrefscognitiveSEOFerzyLong Tail ProSECockpitSEMRush
< 1,0008.5%27.52%28.07%24.30%0.57%19.48%
> 1,00024.59%30.22%30.65%39.28%10.43%19.57%
> 2,50031.48%31.68%35.58%44.29%1.27%29.62%


When the varying search volumes for a keyword were separated the results varied little. The three successful tools reviewed before held their ground in being the most successful predictors.



In conclusion, the results shown offer that there is a significant competitive advantage available if you are using the right tool. Ensuring that you follow a strategy of 500-1000+ monthly searches and a low recommended score from the varying scoring systems from tier 1 tools you can start your content creation process with a stronger chance of ranking well in the end!

But remember, when looking to rank there are so many factors involved that only one step of the process can only provide so much insight and competitive advantage. When we look at 40% being the maximum predictor for keyword difficulty, we have to realize that the weight the keyword difficulty score carries in the overall process of creating ranking content.

While it is necessary to find good keywords, the rest of the process must be completed at the same level of effort and quality to maintain the opportunity to rank. So combining a keyword difficulty tool with a content analyzer tool, backlink analyzer tool, and so on is essential to maximize opportunities.

Look forward to an upcoming post where I will wrap up this round of statistical analysis by exploring additional tools and factors that help you rank like domain authority, trust flow, and headline score. Finding out that there may be an auxiliary tool for helping rank could be a difference maker.

Hope you are enjoying these more statistically driven posts!

If you have any questions or ways we could expand on this analysis please let me know!

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