Some Initial Thoughts on SEO (Part 1)
August 13, 2008

Google Adwords: Keyword Tool

A Step in the Right Direction for SEO
Back in the day if you wanted to know the online search volume for any word you used the Overture Keyword Selector Tool. So why do I say “back in the day.” Because nobody uses the Overture tool anymore. In early 2007 the tool became unsupported and the information it provided, outdated. Then in mid-2007 our company noticed that the tool only worked on occasion. By the end of 2007, the tool was so unreliable we were no longer wasting our time trying to access its results. As a matter of fact, I just typed in the Overture tool URL and realized it now redirects you to the Yahoo! Small Business page. Wow, the tool doesn’t even exist anymore.

Sure there’s Wordtracker, but please, does anybody believe that a keyword tool that uses data collected from the metacrawler search engines, Dogpile and MetaCrawler, is accurate. The metacrawlers only represent approximately 1% of search. What do they know about Google? Then there are the services you have to pay for, which are OK, but I wonder how accurate the data they provide is. I’m the kind of guy that wants to see the data from the source. Plus it was nice that the Overture keyword tool was free.

So what do SEO’s have to rely on these days for keyword search volume? You guessed it: Google. The Google Keyword Tool has been around for a long time, but it’s always rated search volume with a little bar, filled with green ink, that I had to imagine was on a scale from 1-10. The problem was that even though I could guess a keyword’s position on the scale (i.e. 3 or 4), I still didn’t know what that position actually meant in terms of search volume. Now I do, and I was right to be to question the results. For those of you that haven’t figured it out yet, the Google keyword tool now returns the search volume of a word instead of a bar with partially filled green ink. The information it provides is great, but it’s really been an eye opener. Like I suspected, the old partially filled bar system inaccurately reported results. Take the word “SEO” for example. Under Google’s old system, “SEO” returned a fully filled green bar. I used to interpret this to mean 10 in terms of a scale from 1-10. Now Google’s tool says that its average monthly search volume is 1,000,000 searches. Now look at the phrase “SEO Tools,” which I believe was also a 10 (or very near) before the switch. According to the Google tool, “SEO Tools” is searched approximately 18,100 times per month. Big difference, huh.

That being said, I’m glad to see Google now reporting search the way they are. The data is a lot more meaningful and a lot more helpful. Sure Google’s data may be inaccurate at times, but I’ll bet it’s better than the alternatives.