The Best Keyword Search Volume Checkers: Google Keyword Planner & SEMrush

Last Updated: 7 Oct, 2020

Keyword research is always the first and foremost task to kickstart an SEO project. The search volume trend of a keyword is an indicator of whether you have chosen the right word. Among all sorts of keyword search volume checkers and analysis tools available, Google Keywords Planner and SEMrush are the most easy-to-use and powerful choices.

Google Keyword Planner: The Original Source of Search Volume Data

Since Google is the source of search volume data, its keyword tool, Google Keyword Planner is supposed to be providing the most updated and accurate data. By opening a Google Ads (formerly known as Google AdWord), you can access to the Keyword Planner, which is originally designed for PPC campaigns but also provides insights that every SEO manager needs to set up a keyword plan.

The advantages of using Keyword Planner as your keyword search volume checker for SEO projects:

  • Provide the estimated monthly search volume of a keyword upon the locations and languages you choose
  • Discover keywords suggested by Google which are related to your websites, products, or service
  • Learn about the cost of PPC campaign, which gives you the insight of the market competition if you are considering doing PPC at the same time
  • Forecast the performance of a PPC campaign and help you understand the result you may have after occupying the first page of SERP

However, the Google Keyword Planner has a fatal setback – you can only see a wide range of estimated monthly search volume instead of an exact number if you are not spending enough money in your Google Ads account. This makes the tool especially unappealing for SEO freelancers, SMEs, or small agencies that do not place a lot of paid ads.

Here are two of the Google Ads accounts I am managing, which are displaying the average monthly search figures in two different ways.

Keywrod Magic Tool1 1 The Best Keyword Search Volume Checkers: Google Keyword Planner & SEMrush
The Google Ads Account with more budget spent displays the exact number of search volume.
Google Keyword Planner example 2 The Best Keyword Search Volume Checkers: Google Keyword Planner & SEMrush
The Google Ads Account with less budget spent only shows the range of monthly searches.

Only the first account with more money spent is showing a specific number of estimated search volume. By contrast, the Google Ads account with less money spent is only showing an imprecise range of search volume instead of an exact figure. Google even makes a note on the screen to remind you that you can view the full data by running an ad campaign. It’s indeed not user friendly enough.

Without running a PPC campaign, how much money should you spend to become accessible to the precise search volume? Google doesn’t make it transparent and therefore you cannot even plan to spend more budget to “buy” this data.

But the Google Keyword Planner is still an excellent free tool. If you are an experienced SEO marketer and is very familiar with the products or services your website is targeting, at least you are quite likely able to decide whether a keyword is “doable” or “not doable” by just looking at the vague range of search volume.

SEMrush’s Keyword Magic Tool: Make your Keyword Research Simple & Efficient 

SEMrush is one of the most popular content marketing SaaS tools, and the Magic Keyword Tool is extremely easy to use for anyone with or without any SEO marketing experience. 

By simply inputting your chosen keywords, you will immediately access a variety of useful information: 

  • The average monthly search volume and the trend
  • Keyword variations and related keywords that worth including in your plan
  • A list of keywords based questions which can be your long-tailed keywords
  • A SERP analysis to help you understand more fo your potential competitors
  • Export the keywords list into an excel file or add the Keyword Manager (another tool of SEMrush) for further usage

Due to its simplicity, apart from SEO marketers I even recommend non-SEO members in a marketing team to make use of this keyword search volume checker to look for ideas whenever they have to do in-depth researches or discussions in content marketing with clients or co-workers. 

Keywrod Magic Tool1 1 The Best Keyword Search Volume Checkers: Google Keyword Planner & SEMrush
The Magic Keyword Tool provides a wide range of metrics for your chosen keywords.

Both Chinese (Cantonese) and English Keywords are Available for Hong Kong Markets

SEMrush’s Keyword Magic Tool supports multiple countries and languages. Apart from English speaking marketing like the U.S., U.K., Canada, its database covers millions of keywords for Asian markets such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand. 

I have been using Keyword Magic Tool as the major researching platform for my Hong Kong SEO projects. In most cases, it works very well in discovering and analyzing both English and Chinese (Cantonese) keywords for the local market. On some occasions, when the data of particular keywords matching users’ search intent is not available in this tool, I also use Google Keyword Planner to dig deeper into the data as well as double confirm the initial evaluation of some keywords. 

Keyword Magic Tool database (As of Oct 2020)

LocationsDesktop Keywords
United States2.6B
United Kingdom894M
Hong Kong78.2M
South Korea89.9M
Source: SEMrush

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