best-keyword-tool-872x450It’s time for search engine optimization (SEO) professionals to stop doing keyword research… or at least stop doing it the way that too many SEOs “do keyword research.”

In fact, if you rely on that data too much, you’ll find yourself getting off track. And while your digital marketing campaigns may appear successful, it may not be translating into business growth.

Keyword Research Tools are Flawed

Whether you like it or not, keyword research is at the core of pay-per-click marketing and SEO practices. If you aren’t bidding or using the right keywords, short- or long-tail, then you could be selling yourself short on your potential success.

And wouldn’t you rather reel in a big whale shark instead of a few sardines? (You can obviously tell I don’t know my fish very well.)

See, doing good keyword research is like being a seasoned fisherman, casting his net at the right place, at the right time. So whether you’re looking to patch up the holes in your current keyword selection net, or expand the size of it, consider this article a potential algal bloom of profits.

By now you should know that the Google AdWords Keyword Tool is no longer available – Google has folded the tool into Keyword Planner, a combination of the old keyword tool and the Traffic Estimator. Now, you need an AdWords account to get keyword suggestions from Google. But Google is far from the only keyword game in town.



Keyword Data is Inaccurate

Ever wonder why you can look up the same keyword in three different tools and you’ll get three different search volumes? And not just that, but they can differ by hundreds of percent!

Inaccurate keyword data

Even Google’s keyword tool, which has direct access to its own search database, has never been wildly accurate. And with the recent changes, that data is even more skewed.

All keyword tools provide inaccurate search volume numbers. They are really a “best guess” based on the information which the tool has access to.

But these are the tools we have, so what do we do? Best case is to use the data as a comparison metric and nothing more. And the more data you have between tools, the better you’ll be able to sift through your keyword lists and discern which phrases will be more valuable than others.

Tools Don’t Capture Low-Volume Well

While all keyword search volume data is inaccurate, this is amplified when it comes to low-volume keywords. This becomes an even bigger problem as more searchers are moving away from searching with short-tail phrases. Voice search exasperates this even more with natural language sentences becoming the standard in search.


low volume searches not recorded

My point isn’t that we need to optimize for these searches, it’s just that there are a lot of searches being made that are not recorded. If you negate all low-volume phrases produced by your keyword research tool, you’re effectively eliminating over 20% (if not more) of potential traffic to your site.



failure to determine keyword intent

I talk a lot about keyword intent in the article. And that is actually one of the uses of keyword research. But in order to find intent, you have to do some additional digging–the tools themselves don’t provide it, and many keywords are silent about searcher intent as well.

Understanding the intent of the searcher is important because that shows you what information you need to provide in order to satisfy the searcher’s needs. If you have not figured out the intent of the search, you have no way of knowing whether the content will be valuable to the searcher.


Phrases Are Not Always Relevant

It’s always tempting to try to rank for the short-tail phrases that have high search volume. Whether your keyword tool gives you search volume for every variation of a phrase or combines related phrases into one, nothing is provided indicating the relevance of those terms.

Relavance of keyword phrases

Many searchers–especially those who start with the long-tail phrases–search in phases. That is, they search first for the basic concept of what they are looking for. Then they’ll take a few seconds to scan through the results in order to go back and perform a more specific search.

This pattern can happen two, maybe three times, until they feel that they have an accurate enough search to give them the results they want to look through.