While this may be old news to many deep in SEO-land, it’s breaking news to me: Google AdWords Keyword Tool, a free resource which helps marketers determine the best keywords to use for search engine optimization, is not so great anymore. According to AimClear, Google announced that its keyword tool doesn’t provide access to all the data it has, only the data that Google considers “commercial.”
In other words, Google is trying to narrow down the number of keywords people use, supposedly for both simplicity and profit. When consumers type a search in Google, Google will make “suggestions,” and when marketers want to buy keywords for ads or SEO, the AdWords Keyword Tool gives them fewer options. Advantage for Google? With fewer offerings it can charge more per keyword when selling ads.
The way it used to work
Google has access to the largest database of consumer search terms in the world. Its keyword research tool helped Website designers and marketers see which keywords and phrases people were using most frequently in order to include those terms in their site to reach a target market. It also showed which keywords were the most competitive, and which had room for opportunity.
How Google dumbed it down
Now in the keyword research tool, only certain words show up in searches. AimClear has a great explanation and examples. The writer compares head-to-head the keyword results for a search with Google Keyword Tool and a competitor, and the results are vastly different. Google’s results are single words or two-word phrases; the competitor comes up with search terms people are actually using to find products/services, etc.
So how should I find keywords now?
Fortunately, there are some excellent free (and paid) options.
- Free: Wordstream has both free and paid options for keyword research. And all of its paid search engine optimization and keyword tools come with a free demo and a free trial. This seems to be one of the most popular options among SEO afficionados.
- Free: Microsoft AdLabs uses the database set from both Yahoo! and Bing for fantastic search results. When I just checked, though, the site was down. Reasons? Alternatives?
- Paid: Trellian offers a number of keyword tools, some much more technical than others, for about $70 a month. Also has a free trial. According to AimClear, many “swear by the data.”
- Paid: For about $60 a month, WordTracker “yields quirky and powerful results from a relatively small sampling.” (again, from AimClear).
Overall, Google’s move is a huge bummer. Luckily, though, it provides a chance to check out other keyword search tools. Thanks so much to AimClear for the fantastic, in-depth article about the change to Google AdWords Keyword Tool.