The Google keyword tool, aka the Google Adwords tool, is accurate insofar as the information it provides you with. However, it is not so accurate in the sense that it’s not really designed for doing SEO work. Now if that sounds confusing, that’s because it is. However, it doesn’t have to be. Picking keywords is easy with the right tools, which the Adwords keyword tool really isn’t. Here’s what you need to know:
It’s Designed for Adwords
I recently wrote a blog post about the whole phenomenon of Adwords and the fact that Google gives away a great deal of information for free to all takers. However, what many people don’t realize is that information they give away is designed to help you make good decisions about which keywords to target for an Adwords campaign and not necessarily which keywords to target for an SEO campaign.
Competition Has Nothing to Do With SEO
The first thing to realize is that the competition ranking that each keyword has bears no relationship whatsoever to the kind of competition you’ll face in terms of the popularity of the keyword for SEO purposes. Or rather, it may have a relationship, but that relationship is incidental rather than intended.
The reason is simple. Adwords is designed to work on a bidding basis. You pick the keywords you are interested in and bid for them on the open market. This means that keywords like “make money online” will cost much more to advertise on than say, “African dung beatles.”
The competition listing shows how much competition there is to purchase ads for that keyword, not how much competition there is for the keyword in terms of SEO. Now like I said, more often than not, there is a relationship only because people who target a keyword for an Adwords campaign are usually also targeting the same keyword for an SEO campaign. However, that’s not necessarily guaranteed.
Not Exact Keyword Search
Another issue that you’ll come across is that the Google keywords tool doesn’t necessarily show you exact keyword matches unless you ask for them. This effectively means that when you put in “make money online,” you’ll also find results for “how to make money online while in college,” “how parents can make money online,” “kids are making money online doing…” etc.
Global Vs. Local Search
Yet another issue which isn’t so much about accuracy as much as a misunderstanding of how to use the tool is the difference between global and local search in the Adwords keyword tool. This is important if you are running a localized business, like a dentist’s office in Tacoma. You don’t really care that someone searched for the term “best dentist” in Bangalore, India. You want to target the people who searched for that term in Tacoma, Washington. By using the local search parameters, you can generally narrow that down.
No, the Google keyword tool is definitely not the most accurate choice for SEO. I’ve written about other options for doing keyword research which are more accurate, but which do cost money. However, for those who just want something which is good enough for casual use, the Google keyword tool is fine.