In today’s Google Webmaster Office Hours, I asked about the recent change in the Google AdWords Keyword Planner, a tool than is used by many SEOs for keyword research. AdWords changed the tool from showing traffic information for individual keywords to search variants instead. This means that AdWords is now grouping together sets of keywords to show the overall traffic, and it is no longer possible to get the keyword traffic data for individual keywords or keyword phrases.
This tool has been so useful since it helps significantly when SEOs are trying to select keywords to target, especially for SEOs that have clients in all different areas and are always needing to research new market areas. It is also a tool that Search Console themselves has recommended.
From an AdWords perspective, it does make sense why Google made the change with the Keyword Planner to show search variants instead, because of the way AdWords targeting works. But for those using it for any other purpose, it just lost significant value.
John Mueller from Google had quite a bit to say about it, and he is interested in getting feedback from SEOs who could use a tool like this in Search Console.
I don’t know of any such plans. So in the past we have always referred to the AdWords Keyword Planner as something people can use for this information. So if that doesn’t work anymore, maybe we need to figure something else out.
This is probably also some useful feedback to give back to the AdWords team in the AdWords help forum, if you’ve been relying on this tool and it is suddenly doing something completely different that you can’t really use, this might be some useful feedback to give back to them.
They might in turn say you’re holding it wrong. which could be useful feedback as well because this is not really a search tool but more of an AdWords tool.
But if you’re finding this is something you are really missing, and you really need this information to improve your websites in search, then by all means let us know, so we can think about what we’d need to do from the search console side there.
Someone brought up that a lot of small businesses use the Keyword Planner and aren’t aware there are other ways to get this data.
Okay, good feedback, in short we need to think about what we could do there. It;’s always tight because the Search Console team always has lots of other things that are really important and interesting to do. I’d also give this feedback to the AdWords team as well, just so that they are kind of aware of that. I imagine they are seeing you guys tweet about this as well.
From the perspective of a site owner trying to understand the types of queries that they should be thinking about including in their content, the Keyword Planner (and the versions before it) have been a standard tool. And while many SEOs might know alternative keyword tools, many smaller site owners who aren’t involved in the SEO community might not be aware of them – or more importantly, don’t have the budget for them, since most start at around the $100 per month price point.
I really hope we do end up seeing some kind of keyword research tool in Google Search Console. Third party tools won’t have the same level of accuracy as a tool directly from Google would have. And it could have some integration with what we already see in Search Analytics as well.
If Google Search Console offered their own keyword tool there are also other interesting things they could do for it. Since voice query data in Google Search Console is problematic to include in Search Analytics (although they haven’t ruled out adding it at some point), Google could add a filter that would allow us to do keyword research on just voice queries. The same could be done for both mobile and desktop, something else the Keyword Planner didn’t offer since AdWords advertisers were very restricted on how they could bid between the two until recently.
If you are interested in seeing this data added, definitely let Google Search Console know. It would be great to get individual keyword data back from Google.
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Larry Maguire says
Thanks for the update on this one. The change is very inconvenient.
Here’s what I’ve been wondering; how many and which of the paid tools (and free ones) rely on the same data Keyword Planner uses? Will those tools access the filtered/modified data in their keyword results or do they have access to the data further up stream (so to speak)?
Just thinking out loud…
David S Freid says
Hello, Larry Maguire,
You may want to consider tools that include search data from sites like Yahoo, Amazon, Facebook, etc. (i.e. Word Stats for Facebook ). To help you locate some alternatives, I can also recommend the following article.
110+ Keyword Research Tool Alternatives to Google Keyword Planner (Please Google The Title, “Text String”. I try and use links in my comments, only when necessary.
As an “Open Source” SEO, I can also share the consideration of top ranking sites, their content, (BODY TEXT), Keyword densities, etc. ( :
Hope this helps,
Jonathan Jones says
Larry, you’re right. There are many tools that rely on this data.
We’re seeing with those tools that terms like [car insurance] which has 673k searches in the UK are also being grouped up with terms like [car ins], which has gone from 1,000 avg. monthly searches to 673k searches. These tools use the monthly updated values to track seasonality. This sort of skews that massively.
Emma Kyle says
Maybe Google is trying to force us to write for human beings. For instance, we may currently be inventing a sentence with a plural because that has higher search when we really want to talk about the singular.
In turn, they can have organic search give results that do not favor the exact match but rely on other criteria such as reliability.