A fatal mistake that many beginner webmasters make is investing in keyword tools without knowing how they truly work. I’m a firm believer in understanding how marketing tools work as doing so will allow you to exploit them to your fullest.
There are many factors that you probably don’t understand about the premier keyword research tools on the market, and not understanding them could be the difference between selecting a keyword that will generate profits for years to come and selecting keywords that will produce duds.
My objective is to answer common questions about keyword tools and to also demystify them as it’s that important.
The Secret to how keyword tools work
Ever wonder where third party keyword tools get their data from? This was something that troubled me because I couldn’t phantom how tools built by third party vendors could accurately estimate the traffic for Google, Yahoo, and Bing.
Well, to answer your question they don’t accurately determine the traffic levels for keywords, they just provide a relative measure. Let’s think about this in a practical situation which is described below:
Let’s say that a coder wants to build a keyword tool. Would you have any idea where they would start? Well, before they can get anything done they must find a database that they can perform data mining on. If they want the EXACT numbers from Google, Yahoo, and Bing then they will need access to their servers.
However, this is NOT going to happen for several reasons such as a breach in privacy for their users. Therefore, if vendors can’t get data from the original source then where are they pulling the data from?
Well, it depends on the keyword tool. Wordtracker for example utilize smaller search engines such as dogpile and metacrawler.
They’re able to do this because they have a business relationship with them. What type of deal do they have? I’m not entirely sure but I imagine that these search engines make a portion of their analytics available to Wordtracker so they can use the data to extrapolate keyword counts. The problem with this is several:
1. Wordtracker state that the database they use represents around 1% of US traffic. This is not surprising as dogpile and metacrawler are tiny compared to the top-tier search engines. You may be thinking:
“I can use Wordtracker to estimate keyword traffic, and then multiply that number by 100 in order to accurately measure how much traffic it’ll generate across the entire web.”
This is definitely an inaccurate measurement. The reason for that is Wordtracker uses two small search engines and it’s highly unlikely that the search volumes in their database will be perfectly proportional across all niches.
2. The data that Wordtracker and other third party keyword tools provide are relative measurements compared to absolute ones.
3. The keyword count is much smaller than other keyword tools as they under rather than over estimate.
4. The data that you get is slightly dated.
Even though keyword tools have their drawbacks that don’t mean they’re useless for your internet business. As long as you’re conscious that keyword tools will NOT give you absolute measures then you’ll have the right mentality when using them.
Why 95% of webmasters are wrong about keyword tools
When I was researching various webmaster forums to get an idea on what’s the most popular keyword tool I discovered something peculiar.
Many webmasters tend to favor one tool over the other without clearly explaining why. My only conclusion is that they simply do not have a strong grasp on how to conduct effective keyword research.
They simply input keywords and watch the tool spit back lots of data which they think is useful. That’s rubbish! Keyword tools will always over or underestimate the traffic quantities for a particular keyword.
However, a good keyword tool will tell you exactly how they estimate these numbers, and will also provide you with insights on long tail keywords. In addition, a good keyword tool in my opinion does not hook into Google’s adwords api.
This may sound like an odd statement but let me tell you that I’ve seen many popular seo tools that many webmasters claim are “so amazing” to suddenly stop working because Google makes a change in their api, or even worse, ban the software developer from accessing it altogether!
Google is very protective over their search engine as it’s their best selling product so they continually make changes to their policies.
Therefore, tools that scrape data from Google will most likely become ineffective in the future as it’s against Google’s tos to use automated queries.
So, before you invest in a keyword tool make sure that you do your due diligence and find out how they’re collecting information. Here is an interesting article that you can read from search engine land that talks about search engine tools that lost their effectiveness due to violating Google’s api tos.