KWFinder admittedly lacks the clout of SEMrush, Ahrefs and Moz Keyword Explorer. It’s the proverbial new kid on the block, having only come onto the scene in 2014.

So how does it stack up against its more prestigious counterparts?

Let’s take a look.

First, what exactly is KWFinder?

KWFinder is a keyword research tool that helps you find long-tail keywords with low SEO difficulty.

It’s just one part of the Mangools Suite, which actually contains five resources:

  1. KWFinder.
  2. SERPChecker.
  3. SERPWatcher.
  4. LinkMiner.
  5. SiteProfiler.

The apps are bundled together, and cannot be subscribed to a la carte – sign up for one, and you get them all. Full disclosure: We genuinely love KWFinder and the rest of the Mangools Suite (we’ll never recommend something we don’t), and after concluding our review, decided to throw in some affiliate links.

The web-based app has a tiered pricing model, and offers a 10-day free trial (no credit card necessary). Here’s what you get with that trial:

Mangools also has a free SEO Extension for Chrome and Firefox. Once installed, just click on the icon in the top corner of your browser to view five sets of metrics for whatever webpage you have open.

To drill down into those metrics, you will have to subscribe to the core service.

Here’s the extension at work on Mangools.com:

Overview

Shows domain authority, page authority, citation flow and other high-level SEO metrics.

Keywords

Provides an overview of the keywords that the page currently ranks for, position for each, monthly search volume, keyword difficulty and other metrics.

Backlinks

Lists all backlinks to that page and scores them based on various factors.

On-page SEO

Shows SERP presence, page speed, keywords on page, meta tags, outbound links and more.

Rank tracking

Monitors what keywords a particular page ranks for on an ongoing basis.

Pros and cons at a glance

Pros:

  • More affordable than most tools on the market.
  • Comes as part of a suite of five tools.
  • Don’t need a credit card for the free trial.
  • Excellent support, including a treasure trove of intuitive walk-throughs.
  • Exceptionally polished user interface that makes it easy to use.
  • Excels when it comes to keyword difficulty.
  • Has free extensions for Chrome and Firefox.
  • Covers most of the basic functions you might need from a keyword tool.

Cons:

  • Keyword lists are lacking compared with competitors such as SEMrush and ahrefs.
  • Trial period is too limiting.
  • Low limits for keyword suggestions.
  • Falls short of the big-three tools in terms of backlink analysis and competitor research.
  • No integration with Google Analytics or Search Console.

How do you do keyword research with KWFinder?

We can’t stress just how easy Mangools makes it. But we’ll break it down in just a few steps to show you:

1. Type in your keyword, select the location you want to analyze and hit enter

2. Review your results

KWFinder’s dashboard is sleek and intuitive – arguably second to none in the world of keyword research.

The left column provides a list of organic keywords that are related to your seed keyword (“content marketing” in this case). You can also click “Autocomplete” or “Questions” to see suggestions based directly on the Google Suggest algorithm.

Each keyword in the list of results will display:

  • Trend: Search volume trend for the past 12 months.
  • Search: Average monthly search volume.
  • CPC: Average cost-per-click for Google Ads.
  • PPC: Average competition for pay-per-click campaigns in Google Ads.
  • KD: Keyword difficulty, which Mangools determines by calculating link profile strength of URLs ranking in the first SERP (Search Engine Results Page).

3. Perform SERP analysis for a keyword (if you’re so inclined)

In the right column titled “SERP Overview,” you’ll see a list of the top SERPs for whatever keyword you select on the left column. Clicking on any of those links brings you to that page.

Across the top row of the SERP Overview is a series of initials:

  • DA: Domain authority; predicts how well a site will rank on SERPs.
  • PA: Page authority; predicts how well a webpage will rank on SERPs.
  • CF: Citation flow; predicts how influential a URL is based on how many sites link to it.
  • TF: Trust flow; predicts the trustworthiness of a site based on link quality (the credibility of the sources linking to that site).
  • Links: Total number of external backlinks.
  • FB: Total number of Facebook engagements.
  • LPS: Link profile strength; Mangools’ estimate of the backlink quality of the page.
  • EV: Estimated site visits per month that originate from search results for a certain keyword (“content marketing” in the example above).

By clicking on the “Analyze SERP” button, you can take a closer look at the top SERPs for any given keyword. This will lead to a separate Mangools app called SERPChecker.

SERPChecker basically just builds on the information listed in the SERP Overview. It looks like this:

It shows you the total number of search results and various other metrics associated with your keyword. It also provides a neat display for much of the data you can find in the SERP Overview section of KWFinder (this data can be exported as a CSV file).

By clicking on any of the buttons in the red box we’ve added to the photo above, you get a preview of the SERP:

4. Create and download your keyword list

Simply select the relevant keywords you’d like to add to your list, and then click “Add to list” or “Export.”

Here’s what your list of keywords will look like in the app:

Easy, right?

5. Search by Domain to perform some competitive research

If there was something missing from earlier iterations of KWFinder, it was the ability to identify competitor keywords.

All you have to do is type in the domain for a competitor, and voila:

You can see both the organic and paid keywords they’re ranking for (and don’t worry, you get more than 10 suggestions in the paid version).

What else can be done with KWFinder other than keyword research?

In addition to KWFinder and SERPChecker, you can use three other Mangools tools:

SERPWatcher

This rank tracking tool lets you monitor a given domain’s performance in SERPs for selected keywords over a chosen period of time.

LinkMiner

A super intuitive backlink analysis tool that lets you see the sources of your own site’s backlinks, as well as the sources of backlinks for your competitors.

SiteProfiler

Basically a snapshot of your site’s – or a competitor’s – most important metrics, including domain authority, backlink profile, top-ranking content, top-referring domains and competitor data.

What does it cost?

The pricing structure is pretty simple. It comes in Basic, Premium and Agency. Here are the details:

Compared with most of the other tools on the market that rival KWFinder’s quality, this is a bargain.

Where does KWFinder struggle?

1. The trial is too limiting

Credit where credit is due: We really like how easy it is to sign up for a free trial. I mean, just look at this:

But in that 10-day period, you get a very limited number of searches and will surely end up seeing a whole lot of this:

Which is a little unfortunate considering Mangools has done a lot to make KWFinder a more serious keyword research tool. People who take SEO and content marketing seriously are going to need more than five searches to get a good feel of a tool’s capabilities.

To Mangools’ credit, they offer a full refund within 48 hours of signing up, which means you could theoretically pay to get a deeper look – but really you shouldn’t have to.

With SEMrush, for instance, you get a free, no-holds-barred 30-day trial. Now that’s what I’m talking about.

2. Keyword limits are a little low

If you’re a one-person operation focused on one main project, the “Basic” plan might be enough for you.

Any more than that, and you’ll almost certainly need to go with the Premium option – for one, the Basic plan doesn’t allow any simultaneous logins. But more importantly, 100 keyword lookups and 25 competitor searches and suggestions in a 24-hour period isn’t too much to work with. In the vast majority of cases, Premium will be necessary (which to be fair is only $10 more).

But even getting into the Agency plan, there’s a limit on keyword suggestions of 700. Don’t get me wrong, that’s plenty for the vast majority of keywords. Still, it’s woefully low compared with what’s out there.

Put KWFinder’s 700 up against SEMrush’s 20,000:

This is by no means a deal breaker. KWFinder still provides ample keyword data, and is an all-around excellent keyword planner. Not to mention, 700 is plenty for say, a small or medium-sized business that only has one or two domains.

But if you’re a keyword super user (you perform countless keyword searches and create hundreds of lists a month with thousands of suggestions), Moz Keyword Explorer or SEMrush may be a better choice.

3. A few other odds and ends

KWFinder, at least as far as we can tell, doesn’t integrate with Google Analytics and Search Console. Again, not at all a deal breaker, just more of a nice to have, and worth pointing out since that is something you would get with SEMrush.

The only other potential qualm is that KWFinder is a little less instructive when it comes to writing a blog post, landing page or other content that will rank for that keyword.

Again, something like SEMrush has a slight edge here with its SEO Content Brief, which provides recommendations such as semantically related keywords, word length and more.

The verdict: Do we recommend KWFinder?

Wholeheartedly.

It has its flaws, but KWFinder is a surprisingly great tool, and it keeps getting better. Up until May 2019, one of its main criticisms was its lack of competitive keyword research, which Mangools has sufficiently addressed with its handy Search by Domain feature.

Based on our very own in-depth research – of which we’ve published the details on Moz – KWFinder is also the second most accurate keyword difficulty tool, beating out the likes of SEMrush and Ahrefs.

Keyword difficulty is exceptionally important for marketers who have yet to build up domain authority, and would therefore struggle to rank well for terms with high KD.

It might not matter as much to, say, IBM. But it’s a crucial metric for an SMB or a less reputable enterprise that’s in the early goings of SEO.

Mind you, this is all in addition to being very reasonably priced, one of the easiest keyword research tools (in functionality and on the eyes) and backed up with strong customer support.

If you’re relatively new to the world of SEO, or you have a limited number of domains and campaigns, it’s hard to justify going with a more expensive alternative.

So, to summarize: While agencies and mid-to-large enterprises may find it unsuitable for their higher-volume, more research-intensive undertakings, KWFinder should work wonderfully for the majority of solo marketers and SMBs.

But that’s just like, our opinion, man. Feel free to let us know yours in the comments section below.

Dominick Sorrentino is a senior writer in Chicago. He's a wordsmith who endeavors to use language, story-telling and creativity to solve problems. He enjoys pizza, the musical styling of A Tribe Called Quest, traveling, a good conversation and, of course, putting pen to paper.