Introducing the Keyword Planner
Truthfully, for keyword research projects I’ve carried out recently, I’ve simply continued to use the (old) Keyword Tool. But recently I decided to try out the Keyword Planner, which I’d heard (on the grapevine that is Twitter) wasn’t radically different to what it was replacing, as it was pretty much a merge of the Keyword Tool and the Traffic Estimator and therefore seemingly an aesthetic change that simply combined the two within a new interface.
In order to get properly acquainted with its layout, I decided to run the two tools side-by-side on a quick keyword check job.
A slight discrepancy…
And that’s when I picked up on something alarming…
For effectively the same tool (i.e. one tool replacing the other), the data doesn’t line up.
Looking at “it jobs” keyword suggestions for Computer Recruiter, I noticed discrepancies with both the search volume and average CPC data.
Here’s “it jobs” in the (old) Keyword Tool:
And here’s “it jobs” in the (new) Keyword Planner:
I included all three match types in the former because I wondered if that was the issue (as the KW Planner doesn’t seem to let you choose), but they’re all different anyway. Besides, in the Keyword Planner, if you hover the mouse over the [?] next to “Avg. monthly searches,” you see this:
From the first paragraph (emphasis added):
The average number of times that people have searched for this exact keyword based on the targeting settings that you’ve selected.
So it should line up with KW Tool’s [exact] match data, but… it doesn’t.
12,100 for one, 14,800 for the other.
Now I’m 99% sure I’ve got all the settings right: same country, same language, etc. Maybe there’s some hidden setting on the Keyword Planner I haven’t found that’s causing the discrepancy. But I’m pretty sure I’ve configured it properly and therefore the data should match.
Lower CPCs – a conspiracy…?
It’s bad enough that the search volume data doesn’t line up. After all, which one is the correct one (if either of them are)?! If I’m conducting SEO keyword research for a client, which data should I use?
But what’s worse is this… For all the keywords I’ve checked, the average CPC is significantly lower in the Keyword Planner. Why is this a big deal? Well, if an advertiser sees a lower CPC for their keyword, they might be more inclined to go for it.
So is this merely a discrepancy between the tools, or a subtle conspiracy by Google to try and encourage a few more people to use AdWords?
Here’s some data for you…
(Note: all the KW Tool CPCs are based on the [exact] match equivalent of each keyword)
- KW Tool: £1.28
- KW Planner: £0.83 (£0.45 less; 35% lower)
- KW Tool: £5.28
- KW Planner: £3.03 (£2.25 less; 43% lower)
- KW Tool: £8.88
- KW Planner: £5.97 (£2.91 less; 33% lower)
- KW Tool: £9.92
- KW Planner: £6.43 (£3.49 less; 35% lower)
These aren’t just subtle – for the latter few, you’re talking the difference of a few quid. An advertiser may think that £5+ per click is too much to spend, but £3? Ahh heck, why not! They might see different data again when they actually use AdWords, but if it’s all been sorted out with the boss signing it off and a budget assigned to it, the advertiser may continue to give it a go. And Google gets money that they may not necessarily have gotten otherwise…
So what now?
Honestly? I’d love to know what Google have to say about this. If one tool is replacing the other then why does the data differ anyway? Aren’t they fishing from the same pool (so to speak)? Which one is right and which one is wrong? Why do the average CPC amounts vary so much? Hopefully we’ll find out soon enough…
[Google money image credit: Keso S.]