Since the start of Google’s Adwords program, the company never provided much hard data when it came to search volume numbers – only providing relative search volume comparisons between keywords – up until now. Go on, see how many searches are being conducted for your favorite search term (on Google)… whatever they may be!

Why did Google release search volume numbers?

As more and more companies get better at tracking and reporting search volume numbers and user behavior (compete.com, keyworddiscovery.com) Google Thumbs up through the wallrealizes that edging in on those markets’ value will help pull people ever closer to the "Google" brand. I mean, Google has the actual search numbers for the lion’s share of the market and wants to capture more mindshare, so what better way to keep us loyal? What’s interesting is that they have not yet updated their Keyword Traffic Estimator Tool to reflect actual search volume numbers.

But what does this mean?

  • Google is slowly eating away at the value created by services like Keyword Discovery and WordTracker – if I had a stake in those types of companies I’d be shaking just a bit. 3rd party services never really had accurate search volume numbers but were the closest thing outside of actual analytics data that we had on search volume numbers. What they did provide, however, were relative numbers based on a sampling of total searches in order for us all to have a way to "project" keyword volumes using our own analytics as a base line. Keep in mind that Keyword Discovery and WordTracker’s data are not derived completely from Google but are a sample of the internet population as a whole. This might be more useful if Google weren’t so dominant…
  • Basic keyword research can now be done with a lot more accuracy – Adsense allows you to drill down on broad, phrase and exact match where other services do not. If a keyword has a huge broad, or better, phrase match search volume then it’s a good bet that you’ve found a keyword with a long tail that your site can build into and take advantage of. If you see an exact match with a relatively high search volume then go buy yourself a domain with those keywords in it as you may find a lot of domain/direct traffic and that virtual real estate will start to act like it’s physical counter part in the years to come.

What third party keyword tools still have going for them

  • Keyword Discovery, for example, mines long tail searches much better than the Adsense tool, so you can get a better picture of what people are searching for – while the Adsense tool still forces you to look at phrases between 1 and 4 keywords long. Google wants you to sign up so they can sell you on broad keyword advertisements.
  • 3rd party keyword research tools have an array of features that Adsense doesn’t offer (keep in mind their data is based on samples). For example, Compete’s referral tool shows you which keywords are driving traffic to competing sites and lets you view a domains growth pattern. Seodigger gives you a quick snap shot of a site’s keyword ranking popularity – this can be good if you want to see if a competitor’s website content actually brings in any long tail traffic by looking at the size of the keyword list provided – or if they are just a bunch of fluff. Spyfu gives you the ability to see ads that competitors bid on – good for knowing what keywords the competition tends to cluster around, which might be a good bet for a profitable ppc campaign.

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