Ahrefs Keyword Explorer 2.0 vs. Google Adwords Keyword Planner

Ahrefs recently launched Keyword Explorer 2.0 as the new “best” tool for keyword research. As apathetic users of Google’s Keyword Planner, we decided to give it a shot. Below are our findings:

Ahrefs Keyword Explorer:

Keyword Explorer 2.0 is a paid service that requires an Ahrefs subscription. It boasts many innovative features that provide deeper insight into keyword quality compared to Keyword Planner’s volume, competition, and suggested bid metrics.

With Clicks & Without Clicks

This feature shows you if the keywords are clicked on or if users get their answers from the SERP – for example, “Donald Trump age” gets a lot of searches but few clicks.

  • “Ear Nose and Throat doctor” gets 9,000 searches, and 39% are with clicks. In comparison, “Otolaryngologist” gets 10,000 searches but only 35% are with clicks. Therefore, “Ear Nose and Throat doctor” may be a better keyword because slightly more people click on the search results (3510 vs 3500).


Similar to the above feature, Ahrefs shows the total number of clicks for a keyword. This will be slightly different than the percentage because some users who search one term may click on multiple results.

Paid vs. Organic

Ahrefs also shows you how many of those clicks go to paid search results and how many go to organic results. This can also impact your estimated traffic.

  • For example, “Otolaryngologist” gets 4.1K clicks, and 100% of those clicks go to organic results. “ENT doctor”, on the other hand, gets 6.8K clicks, but only 93% of those clicks go to organic results.

Separates Similar Keywords

Google Keyword Planner now combines similar phrases into one group along with their volumes. For example, Otolaryngology and Otolaryngologist are combined as Otolaryngology with a search volume of 74,000. Ahrefs separates them into Otolaryngology with 52,000 searches andOtolaryngologist with 10,000 searches, which allows for more accurate and specific targeting.


Varied Keyword Ideas

Whereas Keyword Planner shows all related terms, Ahrefs separates related terms into three buckets: having same terms, "also rank for, and search suggestionsHaving same terms shows you phrases that include the term you searched for, also rank for shows you keywords that top 10 ranking pages also rank for, and search suggestions show you phrases suggested via autocomplete.


Increased Volume Accuracy

As described in Moz's blog about Google Keyword Planner's Dirty Secrets, Google Keyword Planner uses buckets to heavily round its traffic data. As the traffic increases, the distance between buckets does as well - for example, a keyword with a volume of 185,000 will round to 201,000, while a keyword with a volume of 180,000 will round to 165,000. These keywords will, therefore, show a difference of almost 40,000, when in reality they only differ by 5,000. Ahrefs also rounds its volumes, but it rounds to the nearest hundred instead of using such severe estimates.

Bonus Features (Need Work):

Keyword Difficulty

The Keyword Difficulty feature shows you how difficult it would be to rank on the first page for a certain keyword phrase. Unfortunately, it only takes into account how many referring domains (RDs) the first 10 pages have and not other ranking factors such as content relevancy. Additionally, it uses the RDs on a page-level and doesn't take into account the overall domain's RDs and backlinks. For example, ENT doctor has a difficulty rating of 4/100, meaning that the top 10 pages have an average of 5 RDs even though the overall domains may have thousands of RDs, quality backlinks, and great content. The Keyword Difficulty for “ENT doctor” implies that as long as you have over 5 RDs on the page you’re trying to rank, you can rank on the first page, which is most likely not the case.

SERP Overview

It would be better if the SERP overview showed local (city-level) data. Country-level results are not as useful for local businesses because the SERP differs depending on your location.

Parent Topic

This is a feature currently in beta. In theory, the parent topic will show you a broader keyword that you can use to also rank for the more specific keyword. As of right now, we have yet to see proof that it works, and there are some bugs. For example, when searching for ent doctor”,ear nose and throat doctor NYC” shows up as the parent term.

Google Adwords Keyword Planner:

Keyword Planner is a free service, but you are required to have a paid campaign to access specific traffic volume data. Keyword Planner only has the basics, but it works – it allows for a simple and fast keyword research process by providing only the essential features.

Simple User Experience

Keyword Planner displays average monthly searches and similar keyword ideas without frills. You're able to add your target keyword and related keywords to a list without navigating to different pages. You can also easily search for multiple terms at once, again keeping everything on one page.

  • With Keyword Planner, you can click the arrows below “add to plan” to add related keywords to a list. There is no such function in the Ahrefs Keyword Explorer; you have to navigate to each separate keyword’s page to add them to a list.


Local Search

Keyword Planner allows users to search in specific locales - towns, cities, counties, etc. Additionally, if your practice has multiple locations, you can add all of them. Ahrefs only provides volumes on a country or global level.


Keyword Filters

Keyword Planner has more ways to customize the keyword idea results, such as filtering the keywords for average monthly searches, only showing phrases that include specific keywords, and excluding keywords through the negative keywords function.


Ahrefs Keyword Explorer clearly has many new valuable features that are superior to Google Keyword Planner. However, without local data, Ahrefs Keyword Explorer loses a lot of its functionality for local businesses. For doctors and medical practices, we focus on ranking for keywords in a specific area. If we can't see the search volumes in these areas, it will be difficult to gauge the estimated traffic of a keyword and compare similar keywords. We also cannot determine whether patients in NYC tend to search dermatologist NYC”, dermatologist NY”, dermatologist new york”, dermatologist manhattan”, or other location-based variations. Overall, Ahrefs has insufficient data on more specific, lower volume keywords. Therefore, Ahrefs Keyword Explorer can be used to find valuable keyword ideas, but hyper-local businesses, like a doctor or healthcare practice, need to rely on Google Keyword Planner for the actual traffic data.

If you need help increasing your keyword rankings and appointments, contact us today. MyAdvice is a full-service digital marketing agency, focused exclusively on connecting health care providers with prospective patients in their communities. Let us fill your waiting room with patients!

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