Search engine marketers rely heavily on Google and the data it provides for keyword research. Google Keyword Planner is used by ultimately all SEO marketers, yet it has a few flaws that can provide inaccurate information for keyword metrics. Some digital marketers are aware of this concern and in addition to the keyword planner, use third-party keyword tools to make smarter decisions for their clients.
A recent article published by Moz, describes how the Google keyword planner gives averages for “Average Monthly Search Volume” that are heavily rounded. The rounding algorithm that Google uses categorizes keywords by traffic volume using “buckets.” Long-tail keywords are usually three to five words phrases while head tail keywords are typically one or two words. Long-tail keyword buckets are very specific, with volumes separated by 10 or 20 visits, and head tail keyword buckets are very broad with thousands or visits separating traffic volume. This creates a problem because the bigger the search volume, the less certain you can be about the accuracy of the Average Monthly Searches (AVS).
In addition, Google Keyword Planner uses metrics other than just phrase matching to determine recommended keywords, so some of the results may be inaccurate. Moz explains that the computer may make some connections that the human brain never would, so it’s important to review keyword by keyword instead of blindly adding these recommendations to your Adwords campaign.
Adam Thompson, 10x digital Director of Digital and an SEO specialist states, “Google’s keyword tool routinely hides 50 percent or more of the keyword phrases it knows about that has search volume. Even if you enter in a list of keywords to get search volume for, Google will not return the data for some of the keywords.” These inaccurate results could be impacting Adword campaigns by not accounting for those keywords. “You should enter the keywords one by one to force Google to give you the true search volume. SEO specialists can use this to their advantage by finding the keywords Google hides, as they may have lower Cost Per Click (CPC)’s since most advertisers won’t be able to find them,” states Thompson.
Third-party keyword research tools, such as SERPs, are useful and arguably provide more comprehensive data than Google Keyword Planner. “In my own tests, I’ve found that the SERPs tool will provide up to twice as many keywords (that have search volume according to Google) than Google’s tool. In my opinion, this tool is the best single tool for longtail keyword research,” Thompson claims. There are other keyword research tools that can be used to build a list of keywords to then use in Google Keyword Planner to find search volume.
Digital and search marketers should be aware of inaccurate results within Google’s Keyword Planner tool and therefore use a combination of tools for keyword research to ensure they are producing successful campaigns for their clients.