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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Google's Keyword Tool With Volume Numbers: Useful or Ho-Hum?

The sequence of events unfolded approximately as follows: Google upgraded their AdWords keyword research tool to show search volumes.

I was already a big fan of Google's keyword tool. I had traveled the globe trying to dispel the myth that there really wasn't much to see there. I'd open up the tool and prove to people that you could do a bunch more with it than the touters of third-party solutions let on. And then I'd watch incredulous seminar attendees mentally downgrade my speaker grade because after all, what the heck is this lunatic going on about? It definitely conflicts with the sales pitch they just got down at the Trellian booth. Everyone knows you can't do anything with a free tool! Sigh.

The tool has taken many steps forward over the years, though some backpedals too (the dedicated "suggested negative keywords" function would be nice to bring back, but I have a handle on why Google may prefer not to show this).

When the raw volume numbers were added, that sealed the deal for me. No longer would I have to apologize for my love of Google's keyword tool! The world would finally see it my way.

Oops. Nope. I forgot. Some SEO person was going to have to come along and claim that "the Google keyword tool is useless for SEO, even with exact numbers." I had considerable trouble following the tortured logic, but in any case, the point wasn't lost on me that Google didn't design the tool so SEO's could do keyword research! They designed it so we could build good-quality paid search campaigns! Like any tool... it's how you use it.

I considered a rebuttal, but figured trying to Outspinn an SEO with 69 Sphinns would be like beating my head against the wall. And besides, the very first comment summed up my sentiments anyway: "I don't think that KD, WT or WordZe are anywhere near as accurate or up-to-date as the Google tool or the MSN Ad Intelligence for Excel Beta. Nice affiliate link drops, though."

A completely opposite viewpoint to the skeptical SEO just crossed my desk. Perry Marshall walks us through some examples to show just how useful Google's keyword tool is. OK, I can stop questioning my sanity again. Perry falls into the category of someone that actually uses keyword research tools for paid search and teaches thousands of others how to improve their keyword marketing (rather than talking smack, writing lists, etc.)... so I'll go with his take.

What's really interesting, if you look at Perry's walk-through, is that you can comb through the list with match type set to "negative." That's not really a "suggested negative keyword list," in my view, but it does facilitate adding negatives to a campaign.

Verdict: Google's tool provides insightful keyword information, no matter how you Sphinn it!!

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