Keyword Research Followup

Keep up with the very latest developments in the digital marketing world

By Guy Levine
on 24/7/08

In this post we will review the results of our Adwords Keyword Research Tool Trial which was a follow up to our synopsis of recent happenings and changes by the Search Engines.

To recap Adsense have recently change the figures they show - this is a massive, massive deal.  Why?  Well lets start from the beginning.

If you want to optimise for Rankings in the Search Engine's then you now have 5 tools to choose from for doing Keyword Research.  Google Adsense has always been the best tool.  Personally I have to be honest and say a couple of years ago I didn't always use Adsense I preferred Oveture's tool because it gave actual figures which Adsense never did up until now.  i found optimisation for Google wasn't always effective so I switched to Adsense and Overture then stopped reporting actual live figures anway, simply Overture didn't tell me what Google uses in the main use for keywords.

The thing is if you want to generate traffic then Google has entirely in the last few years dominated that traffic.  A few years ago it was reported Google had just over half the market and nowadays it's around the 70% mark,  Yahoo currently has about 20% and Live 5%.

I can understand why anyone would have been fooled, which is no disgrace ad you'd be like me, into using Overture's live figures.  However the fact is you cannot target a market like Google's nowadays with tools from Overture and Microsoft, ultimately users will use at least slightly different terms and if you want to dominate a market, in the case of Yahoo, you can't do that with stats that cover less than half of the same market or, in Microsoft's, a snippet.  Ultimately you want Google rankings right?  That's what all our clients say.  That's not to say that either data from the other two or rankings for that matter are irrelevant, but Google is the top dog and the trend is Google is increasing its strangehold.

If you want to know what terms keywords are used in Google then only Google has the answer.  It's not just a fad where the whole SEO industry has got it wrong, but actually there are some authorative big hitters out there who are also not just using the wrong data, they're telling you to use it to. No names mentioned.

So let's look at the data.  First thing to say is whatever results we gauge from this what actually most people are looking for when doing keyword research is niches, long tail SEO and gaps in particular markets.  SEO is not a niche market and we've only pulled out figures from the top two keywords in Google.  If the results are skewed, twisted, missing and in some cases plain wrong.  This is going to be far more exagerated in these other, far more used, markets:

Firstly it's confusing over what time period and what markets the data is being pulled.  Hence the ratio's, because just a brief glance and the figures are very, very different.  As has been stated before and as you can see from the figures, Overture have stopped using live figures and instead use ranges.   It took me some time to find out but Google is very simple you have monthly live data and an average from a year, no one else provides both except Adlabs, which you have to work out and frankly I don't have the time to do that for every search I do.  Everyone else isn't, in fact I got sick of trying to find out the exact date ragnes so I gave up, hence the data for ratios, as it doesn't matter about time periods because they produce the same ratio.  Overture have always published monthly data though this wasn't stated, MSN I guess would be the same, though looking at the figures they are possibly yearly to me.  You have to click on those annoying ? images in Keyword Discovery (a year) and Wordtracker (130 days) to find out.

So this our first problem, we do keyword research by the bucket full to manually get relative data from all sources is quite an issue here, doing a ratio tells me something that relates to all of them, though it isn't enough and I still don't want to be doing that for every search .  So if we start with the one search on "SEO UK" to 20 on "SEO" in Google.  That sounds about right to me.  Ratio of same is rubbish in Overture - the data ranges make the actual data pretty much useless, though the data they are presenting isn't wrong.  MSN goes up to 1 in 35 that's plainly wrong to me.  Now we look at the data and it could be over a longer time period.  The difference between MSN and Google for month of June highlights another problem that is markets.

Before we continue with ratio's let's look at markets.  Google and Overture is very simple you pick your markets.  Most of our customers aren't going to want to think about trading overseas, and if they are, they're going to concentrate on specific markets.  Adlabs and also for the other two this isn't possible which for definitive data makes the figures useless.  We don't want to be optimising for Keyword based in the US, this is the huge problem for particularly Keyword Discovery. I hear from Yanks it's a great tool.  However whenever I look at the figures it's greatly biased to me towards US market.  Simple question if you look at the figure for KD is do I think only 5 people in the UK have used "SEO UK" as a keyword for the whole year.  My answer is you must be kidding right?

Back to ratio's.  WT is completely on another planet compared to Google, least said about KD your better.  This reinforces the fact of it's key where the tools we use get their data from.  Search Engines is simple.  However what KD and WT do is buy their data from ISP's which makes them extremely inaccurate and in KD's case it looks like they pretty much get all their data from US ISP's which makes it totally useless for me.

Why is Keyword Research so important?  Well imagine, which is easy to do if you don't use Google as your prime tool, if your using the wrong keywords.  Doesn't matter if the one's you do use are all ranked number 1,  doesn't even matter if your getting a double listing.  Fact is you missing out on quite a large chunk of your market, and depending on what your actually using that could be whole chunks.  Personally I don't think either KD or WD are useful for indicators of Search Terms for any sort of SEO.  In fact isn't it be better to be ranked lower for the right keywords then be ranked number one for the wrong ones.  Therein is the key to understanding why Keyword Research is so so important.