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3 Must-Have Content Tools for Marketers: SEMrush, KWFinder, Ahrefs

As a fresh content marketer, content tools for marketing can get confusing – fast.

Which ones are must-haves?

Do features overlap?

Do you really need more than one SEO tool?

Trust me, even seasoned strategists don’t have all the answers and often get confused over the features.

Here’s the thing. I can’t answer these questions. Everyone’s content marketing strategy is different. As a marketer, it’s up to you to look over the list of content strategy tools below and figure out what’s necessary to meet your goals.

But I DID want to make things a little easier for you to digest.

In my Content Strategy & Marketing Course, I introduce students to a handful of the top content tools for marketers and explain how to use them for building a successful content strategy. For SEO, we go over SEMrush, KWFinder, and Ahrefs.

While there is some overlap, they all offer widely unique features. Below you’ll find some explanatory screenshots, bullet points, and brief introductions on these top tools so you can pick the right ones to invest your money.

3 Top Content Strategy Tools for Marketers

1. SEMrush SEO & Content Tools for Marketers

2. KWFinder Keyword Research & Content Tools for Marketers

3. Ahrefs SEO & Content Tools for Marketers

Content tools for marketers - SEMrush, KWFinder, Ahrefs

SEMrush SEO & Content Tools for Marketers

Price: Basic plans start at $99/month billed monthly or $83/month billed annually

(But you can get an extended free trial coupon when you sign up for the Content Strategy & Marketing Course. 😉 )

SEMrush is an ultimate SEO tool. If you need an all-in-one tool that does it all, SEMrush is the answer. They add and improve features all the time but here are a few of the staples:

  • Highly accurate keyword research
  • Detailed domain analytics and position tracking
  • Website audits and intelligent recommendations
  • Keyword gap analysis between multiple domains
  • Topic research and content ideas
  • In-depth competitor research
  • Backlink analysis
  • Lead generation
  • Project management dashboards
  • Brand management
  • Alerts about Google algorithm changes

Newbies might not use all of SEMrush’s content tools for marketers right away. However, it IS a great platform to learn and grow with. See, SEMrush might provide a ton of features but they’re super easy to use and understand.

Let’s dig deeper into some of the content tools for marketers you’ll use regularly…

Keyword Magic Tool

This is what you’ll use for the bulk of your keyword research through SEMrush. Let’s say you’re doing keyword research for an e-commerce store that sells gardening supplies.

You’d type your seed keyword “gardening supplies” into the search bar and hit search.

SEMrush keyword magic content tool

SEMrush will give you a ton of suggestions and filtering/organizing options:

SEMrush keyword magic content tool suggestions

SEMrush

You can sort by “phrase match,” “broad match,” “exact match,” or “related” depending on your needs. With the filtering options, you can search by factors like

  • Monthly search volume
  • Difficulty
  • SERP features
  • Word count
SEMrush keyword magic tool search by options

Here’s where the real magic happens. On the left side of your results, you can sort your keywords by phrase groups and volume:

SEMrush keyword magic sort feature

Keyword Manager

As you research keywords in the Keyword Magic Tool, check the little box next to the ones that look good and hit “+ To Keyword Manager” to hold onto them for safe keeping.

Once you have a nice list, you’re ready to analyze their latest stats and export.

SEMrush keyword manager tool for content

Keyword Difficulty Tool

When you’re in a pinch and need a hot keyword STAT, the Keyword Difficulty Tool has your back. Just plug in a handful of keywords and hit “Show difficulty.”

It will give you the key stats you need to know like volume, difficulty, and SERP features without forcing you to run individual searches for each keyword through the Keyword Magic Tool.

semrush keyword difficulty content tool

SEMrush

Domain Analytics

As part of their suite of content tools for marketers, SEMrush also offers some incredible domain analytics.

With the Domain Overview tool, SEMrush gives us a snapshot of our performance, scanning backlinks, keywords, and our traffic over time. You’ll want to run a Domain Overview search anytime you take on a new client. It will give you a nice understanding of where they stand BEFORE you get your hands dirty tweaking their content strategy.

Bonus: You can export this page as a PDF to show your clients.

SEMrush domain overview content tool

SEMrush

After you check out the Domain Overview, you can dig a little deeper into the Organic Research to see how a particular site ranks for keywords.

Next, click on the “all organic keywords” button and SEMrush will show you ALL the keywords a specific domain ranks for. Plus, SEMrush will also tell you if the page is ranking for Google Images, snippets, videos, or “people also ask” questions.

SEMrush domain overview organic search positions tool

SEMrush

Remember, you can analyze more than your own domain (or your client’s). SEMrush also lets you run Domain Analytics on any website so you can scope out competitors and track their performance too.

Gap Analysis

I couldn’t cover ALL SEMrush’s content tools for marketers here but I did want to squeeze in some details on their Gap Analysis feature.

This tool is handy when you’re working with websites that already tank for THOUSANDS of keywords and you need fresh keyword ideas.

Simply plug in your domain and the domain URL of a competitor or two. SEMrush will let you know how you stack up and which keywords you’re missing.

SEMrush gap analysis tool

SEMrush

Mangools KWFinder Keyword Research & Content Tools for Marketers

Price: Basic plans start at $49/month billed monthly or $29/month billed annually

(But you can get 20% off when you sign up for the Content Strategy & Marketing Course. Coupon featured in the curriculum bonuses! 😉 )

Mangools KWFinder is super user-friendly and has everything you need to complete comprehensive keyword research for yourself or clients. Plus, it’s more affordable for new content marketers, freelancers, or hobbyists who don’t have a bunch of income to spend on expansive tools.

Now, KWFinder itself is ONLY for keyword research. However, signing up for the basic plan gives you access to the full range of Mangools tools too. This includes:

  • SERPChecker: Search by keyword and analyze domain authority of top-ranking pages.
  • SERPWatcher: Track your own rankings for specific keywords or that of competitors.
  • LinkMiner: Monitor your backlink profile or search for backlink opportunities via competitors.
  • SiteProfiler: Track the overall SEO health of your own website or competitors.

Let’s explore some of the KWFinder content tools for marketers you’ll use most often.

Search by Keyword

To start your keyword research, plug in a seed keyword and check out the related search terms. Let’s use “gardening tools.”

KWFinder search tool

KWFinder

KWFinder gives us a ton of results along with some scores like volume, CPC, and difficulty.

KWFinder keyword search tool

KWFinder

As I cover in the Content Strategy & Marketing Course, every tool gives you slightly different keyword difficulty scores because the metric is fluid. You’ll notice KWFinder’s scores are a little lower than SEMrush, for example.

However, KWFinder also tells you the likelihood of ranking for the keyword based on the pages already ranking. The 41 score for “gardening tools” is definitely possible if we 100% optimize for SEO. But if we’re working with a brand-new website, we may want to pick some longer keywords.

I explain the benefits of long-tail keywords in-depth in my bestselling Practical Content Strategy & Marketing book.

keyword sweet spot

By clicking “KD” to sort by difficulty, we get lots of awesome long-tail options relevant to our site!

KWFinder sort by keyword difficulty - KD

KWFinder

See the little “Autocomplete” and “Questions” buttons?

Those give us some great insight into searcher intent – in other words, the “why” behind searches.

By clicking on “Autocomplete” we get some more fantastic long-tail keyword ideas. If search volume is too low to use as a keyword, we can use them for topic planning ideas instead.

Look at all these amazing easy-to-rank keywords!

KWFinder autocomplete keyword tool

KWFinder

Let’s do the same thing for “Questions.”

KWFinder tool - question keywords

KWFinder

Wow! So many awesome topic planning ideas here.

As we come across those hot keywords, we’ll just check the little box and add them to our list. When we’re all done, we can head over to the list to analyze and export them.

KWFinder export keyword list tool

KWFinder

Search by Domain

KWFinder also lets you search for keywords by domain. Let’s use gardeners.com.

By plugging gardeners.com into the domain KW search bar, we can scroll down and get a TON of keyword ideas.

KWFinders search keywords by domain tool

KWFinder

As a bonus, KWFinder gives us some domain search suggestions based on other sites ranking for similar keywords, like The Spruce.

They also tell us which countries the domain has keywords ranking in. If we’re an e-commerce store, these would be useful for market research purposes.

Ahrefs SEO & Content Tools for Marketers

Price: The Lite plan starts at $99/month billed monthly or $82/month billed annually

Ahrefs is a full-suite SEO tool. In other words, it offers everything you need to conduct keyword research and SEO analysis for your own website or that of your clients. Some of the top content tools for marketers include:

  • Extensive Keyword Explorer across multiple platforms and domains like Google, Amazon, YouTube, and more
  • Comprehensive backlink analysis
  • Content gap analysis between multiple domains
  • SEO audits
  • Domain comparison to track competitors
  • Content explorer with social share counts

If you have a client who’s serious about their backlinks, Ahrefs is definitely the tool you want in your arsenal.

For our purposes here, let’s stay focused on content tools for marketers and dive a little deeper into some of their keyword research and analysis tools.

Keyword Explorer

Starting with our seed “gardening” keywords, we can run an analysis and click on “all keyword ideas.”

Ahrefs keywprds explorer content tool

Ahrefs

Ahrefs all keyword ideas

Ahrefs

Not bad but most of them aren’t too specific or easy to rank for. If we click on “search suggestions,” Ahrefs gives us a huge list of relevant, easy, and long-tail keywords:

Ahrefs content tool search suggestions

Ahrefs

If we’re running keyword research for an e-commerce store, we might want to take advantage of Ahref’s Amazon search feature. Like so:

Ahrefs Amazon keyword search tool

Ahrefs

On the other hand, if we’re planning some video content, we could run the search for YouTube:

Ahrefs YouTube keyword search tool

Ahrefs

Content Explorer

Using the Content Explorer, we can get some insight into topic ideas, backlinks, and organic traffic.

Let’s pop “gardening tools” into the search bar again.

Ahrefs content explorer tool

Ahrefs

Ahrefs first gives us the top authors who publish content on gardening tools along with the number of pieces published on the topic every month.

Ahrefs keywords explorer - pages over time and top authors

Ahrefs

Next, Ahrefs tells us some of the hottest pieces published over the past six months. We can sort these by factors like

  • Facebook shares
  • Pinterest shares
  • Traffic
  • Date published
Ahrefs keywords explorer top content pieces

Lots of awesome ideas, huh?

Finally, we can also sort by author or website. These accounts may be worth following for content inspiration.

Ahrefs keywords explorer top authors tool

Ahrefs

Other Helpful Content Tools for Marketers We Recommend

Ahrefs, KWFinder, and SEMrush aren’t the only content tools for marketers out there but they ARE some of the best ones for researching SEO and keywords, in my opinion. I cover them extensively in my bestselling Practical Content Strategy & Marketing book as I explain in detail how to build a successful content marketing strategy.

Beyond keyword research and topic planning, you need a few other content strategy tools.

  • ConvertKit (email marketing)
  • MailChimp (email marketing)
  • BuzzSumo (trends, topic research, and influencers)
  • Exploding Topics (topic research and trends)
  • Meet Edgar (social media)
  • Hootsuite (social media)
  • Airtable (interactive spreadsheets and editorial calendar planning)

Bonus: You can get a $100 credit for Airtable when you register as a student for my Content Strategy & Marketing Course 😉.

Start Building Your Content Marketing Strategy

Congrats! Now you understand some of the major differences between the top SEO and content tools for marketers. My Content Strategy & Marketing Course dives deep into the details on how to use them to build a successful content marketing strategy from start to finish.

Whether you’re interested in building your own brand, starting an online business, learning content strategy for work, or dipping your toes into freelance work, the Content Strategy & Marketing Course is your ultimate resource to succeed.

Sign up for the Content Strategy & Marketing Course now and you’ll have a solid strategy ready in just 45 days!

Learn these content tools for marketers and enroll
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