There’s been a good deal of controversy of late surrounding the newest edition of Google’s AdWords Keyword Tool (which launched in September 2009 and came out of beta this August). A lot of marketers in the search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search communities have come out of the woodwork complaining about the wide variance in volume projections in the new version, compared to the old. Their beefs are substantial: overpaying on keyword-rich domain purchases, business failures from erroneous projections, and much more.
Apparently, at the time of the new Keyword Tool’s launch, Google was less-than-explicit about an important caveat: the old version used combined data from searches on Google.com plus all of Google’s Search Network Partners, e.g. AOL, Shopping.com, parked domains, etc. (Not sure what this means? If you’ve ever conducted a Google search from within another site, that site is a Google Search Network partner.)
Despite this criticism, digital marketers shouldn’t lose sight of all the benefits of using the new Google Keyword Tool. That’s why we put it at the top of our list:
1. The New Keyword Tool Ignores Traffic From Google Search Network Partners
Any search marketer knows the profiles of each search audience (Google.com vs. partners) can vary widely, with differences in cost-per-click (CPC), click-through rate (CTR), conversion rates, baseline ROI, and more. Seasonal fluctuations in these core metrics also show different patterns, at times.
While the outdated combined view certainly showed bigger and bolder numbers, Search Network numbers were always harder to pin down when projecting critical success metrics. Better to have a firm grasp on a smaller number, and look for growth down the road.
2. You Can Run Search Query Volume Estimates in Any Geographical Market
In the past, how could you do this? Resisting the temptation to calculate search query volumes off of relative country population sizes, you’d probably have to go to a third-party keyword tool — but then face all kinds of hazards in harmonizing the data to Google’s. Never a pretty picture.
Now, with a mouse click, you can roll in as many countries as you want. For good measure, they also threw in language targeting.
3. You Can Estimate Search Traffic on Mobile Devices
Behaviorally speaking, desktop/laptop search and mobile search are two very different animals. Searcher’s intent, query language, context, even screen and browser limitations — these all vary widely from the big screen to the little screen. The keyword [Italian restaurant] garners more than 16 percent of its query volume from mobile devices, compared to 0.2 percent for the keyword [management consultants]. Isn’t it about time we had a tool to help quantify mobile search behavior with that kind of precision?
4. New Data Filters Ease the Heavy Lifting of all That Search Query Data
With the old tool, we’d often find a list with a heavy long tail of keywords showing little or no data. Given that Google would limit the output of any list to 200 items, it often took several tries to build a useful seed list of keywords to analyze. Now we can filter by query volume, competition, estimated CPC, etc. And by the way, Google has done away with the 200 keyword limit.
5. Match Type Targeting is More Intuitive, This Time Around
One of the easiest ways to misinterpret data from the old Keyword Tool was to overlook the potential overlaps of search query data inherent in a broad-matched seed list (example: showing [Italian restaurant] and [Italian restaurant Chicago] on the same list). The risk is still apparent, but with simple check boxes in the new version, it’s become much easier to control for these potential errors.