I don't like the new one either! It's probably fine, but I was so used to the old one, I couldn't adapt to this one. I have tried one called Traffic Travis that had some components that I liked. It has a free version that was OK. I just never got around to trying out the one you had to pay for.
Market samurai and long tail pro are great tools for keyword research but problem is they aren't free at all. Good news is you can start market samurai with free trail and their keyword research section is completely free for the life time. I use another keyword tool for doing keyword research. This is free. Hope you like it too.
They tout over 120 million keywords and their pro plan is fairly low-priced. I've not used them myself but a colleague has. He's not too sure how effective it is as yet as he's only been using it a short while. I've asked him to let me know what he thinks of it when he can assess its benefits more thoroughly. I'll report back when I learn more.
I didn't know the keyword tool got a makeover. It's about time. I haven't checked it out yet, but I always dreaded logging into that thing. It has such an overly technical feel to it. Why is that? It seems like it should be more sleek, simple, and modern. Instead, it feels rigid and clunky. As if I'm looking at an outdated piece of software. They needed to update it, but now I'm afraid to log in and look since you all are saying how bad it is. Looking up keywords should not be that difficult. Sometimes Google just doesn't know what they are doing.
Before you settle on one or a few specific keyword tools, you should take into consideration where they are getting their information from, and how complete or relevant it really is. Many of the keyword tools out there currently all pull from Google's Keyword Planner, then basically just add on a few additional metrics of their own pulled in from various other sources, or calculated automatically. Only a few companies, such as Wordtracker, Trellian, K-Meta, and Wordstream (though there may be more that I'm not aware of at the moment) have their own proprietary keyword databases.
For free tools you may want to look into:
Bing Ads - they offer a keyword suggestion tool similar to Google's keyword planner, in addition to an Excel plugin as well which can pull keyword suggestions right into your spreadsheets, along with their corresponding metrics.
K-Meta - It's free but you have to register. They keep a large database of all the keywords a given site is receiving traffic from. Be cautious with this though, since just because a site is getting traffic from a certain set of keywords does not mean that's a comprehensive set of keywords you should be targeting at all. It simply means those are they keywords they are ranking for.
Ubersuggest - This is a popular tool to scrape Google's auto suggestions on Google search. One pain point though is you need to manually expand all the sub levels if you want all of those too (it can go about 4 levels deep on search query suggestions). I really wish they would offer an "expand all levels" option. There are some paid tools such as Scrapebox which can scrape 4 levels deep automatically, but you need to purchase some private proxies to do that since Google will block you (temporarily) for making that many calls to their site at once like that.
For paid tools, I've been using Long Tail Pro currently, since they have a proprietary Keyword Competition score that they assign each keyword, to tell you how competitive they believe it to be. Theoretically this should help you narrow down a list of thousands of keywords to the ones you should be targeting that are getting a decent amount of traffic and you have a realistic chance of gaining first page rankings on. In theory its better to be first page on a few lower volume terms and start getting traffic than waste a bunch of time and money trying to rank 1st page on a few high volume terms and never achieving it and never getting any traffic. LTP has some quirks, but I think it's KC scoring, as well as it's ability to quickly drill down into the top 10 competitors for a keyword and aggregate a bunch of stats on each of them is a big time saver. I will say though, the program isn't very useful unless you keep the 17 dollar a month subscription to Long Tail Platinum. If you cancel that, you are left with a stripped down version of the program called Long Tail Pro which doesn't include the KC score and is limited in several other ways as well.
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