Articles Tagged with Keyword Research

Data Discrepancies – Google’s (Old) Keyword Tool vs. (New) Keyword Planner

Introducing the Keyword Planner

Google AdWords logoBack in May, Google introduced the Keyword Planner: a new version of the Google AdWords Keyword Tool, a handy tool for both PPC and SEO folk for keyword research purposes.

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.

Click to read more!

SEOno News & GB Posts: Part 2

Following on from last time, just a quick update…


I finish my coursework at the end of this month, after which I’ll finally get on with the site redesign. I’m serious. I’m not kidding! I’ve been talking about it for well over a year, so it’s about bloody time I got it sorted. Seriously though, I’m marking it as a priority from September, even at the expense of writing less content until I get it done.

Speaking of content, I have some great posts lined up. I’m in the process of asking for people’s comments for a post relating to online marketing for live music, which will probably end up being one of my next posts. I also have half a dozen or so ideas for content – it’s just having the time write them that’s the issue!

Oh and I have a new job! I started my new role as an SEO Strategist for Box UK in July, as part of their new Digital Marketing division. Exciting stuff!

Guest blog posts

Not really guest posts per se, but 4 new posts on other sites…

Before leaving Liberty, I wrote a two-parter titled ‘What Is Keyword Research?’ The first part covers what it is, why it’s important and how to go about it. The second part covers a few common mistakes people make when conducting keyword research. I was supposed to have another post about PPC appear on a well-known PPC blog on behalf of Liberty, but I don’t think they ever published it unfortunately.

I’ve also helped to produce two posts for Box UK (already)! Before I’d even started, I was asked to write an introductory post, so I wrote a list of do’s and don’ts in carrying out SEO in 2012. I was also involved in an interview on SEO and UX (User Experience) with my colleague Chris from the UX team – we talk about how SEO and UX should work in unison and not be treated as separate entities.

I also have another YouMoz post in the works, which I submitted back in June. I wrote my first one a year ago, which seemed to go down well, so I’m very excited to have another post pending publication. Fingers-crossed this one makes it onto the main SEOmoz blog – I’d be absolutely delighted if that were to happen!

“We rank therefore we rock,” said the agency – Beware the misleading ranking claim

Technology WinDisclaimer: This post is not intended as an attack against anyone, so be advised that any keywords/rankings that I go on to mention are purely examples – any correlations between the agencies ranking for them and the way they market themselves is purely coincidental and unintended.

A good measure of any agency can be seen in how they do what they do on themselves. If a PR agency has a bad reputation in the press, a web design agency has a poorly-built website or an SEO agency doesn’t rank for anything then it’s not a very reassuring sign.

So it’s understandable when an web design or online marketing agency that does SEO wants to let people know when they rank for a keyword. “Hooray, we rank! We rock!” Right? Not necessarily. It may sound great on the surface, but dig a little deeper and it may not be that impressive at all.

We rank ≠ we rock (necessarily)

Sometimes on Twitter I come across a web design agency which provides SEO services saying that they rank #1 on page 1 organically in Google for a keyword like, say, “web designers in cardiff”. At first, that sounds really impressive, but think about it for a moment… That’s just one variation of a number of things someone might type into Google. There’s a lot of different things someone might search on in order to find effectively the same thing:

  • “web designer” could be singular or plural: “designer” or “designers” (2 variations)
  • It could be “website designer(s)” instead… (4 variations)
  • …Or you could just call it “design” (6 variations)
  • Although arguably a different requirement, some people are inclined to call it “development,” or might be looking for a “developer” or “developers” (12 variations)
  • They might be looking for one in “cardiff” or maybe “south wales” or “wales” as a whole (36 variations)
  • When typing in keywords containing locations, searchers tend to put the location afterwards, either with or without the “in,” or before, e.g. “web design cardiff,” “web design in cardiff” or “cardiff web design” (108 variations)

We’re now up to 100+ different ways that someone might be looking for a web designer/developer in Cardiff or the wider Wales.

Variations and their search volumes

Not only that but some variations are undoubtedly going to be more popular than others, whether it’s due to searcher’s habits, one term being more renowned or used than another, or perhaps Google Suggest highlighting a particular search term as a searcher starts typing. Just looking at some of the variations using the Google AdWords Keyword Tool can show the difference (which can be used for free and by anyone, by the way):

web design cardiff and variations in the Keyword Tool

According to its results, “web design cardiff” receives c. 2,400 searches per month, while the bottom three keywords – including the aforementioned “web designers in cardiff” – show no data whatsoever, suggesting that search volume is minimal or non-existent. It’s likely that “web design cardiff” has a lot of agencies fighting over it, trying to optimise themselves and their sites for that keyword, simply because of how popular and in demand it is. Likewise, this should suggest that the likes of “web designers in cardiff” will have very few people going for them – after all, why optimise your site for something that no one’s searching for? Therefore, in comparison it should be an easy one to rank for… I bet that keyword sounds even less impressive now, doesn’t it?

How about the website that ranks highly for “web design cardiff” though? Surely that’s a good sign of an agency that knows how to do SEO! Perhaps… While it certainly carries weight to rank for the whale, it may not be a good sign if they don’t also rank for littler fish, either. Maybe they’re focussing all of their energies on just that one keyword? Or maybe they just got lucky?

What’s a business to do?

Someone in the market for an SEO agency may not know all of this stuff, along with how to check for search volumes, and that’s fair enough. If gauging an SEO’s performance on their own rankings, it is wise to check a few rankings in their industry and location(s).

I did a presentation for Liberty Marketing recently and in the Q&A session afterwards I was asked how we rank. Fortunately I was able to say that we do quite well – as I type this, we’re the #1-3 result for searches such as “seo cardiff,” “online marketing cardiff” an even just “marketing cardiff” (even though we don’t provides any offline marketing services whatsoever). We’re also on page 1 for “online marketing agency,” which – with no location keyword involved – means we’re competing UK-wide. Not too bad for a three-year-old agency.

Of course, my advice would be not to go down this route at all. I’ve heard stories of people who have somewhat naïvely recruited SEO agencies by simply typing “seo” into Google and asking the top few results for proposals. Compared to other industries, it’s possible for a site to have gamed the system and used dodgy, black-hat technique to have gotten there in the first place. You could end up hiring someone who engages in dodgy practices which can have long-term damaging effects on your site, or – in the worst case scenario – is simply a con artist.

If it were up to me, I’d work on the basis of recommendations and testimonials. I’d also think about the competition of an industry – a high result in a UK-wide insurance search (likely to be in the 1,000s of searches each month) is certainly going to be a lot more impressive than someone looking for a particular niche product or trade in a small town or city. After all, regardless of the industry, a happy client is what makes a good agency.

[iPhone/thumbs up image credit: Stéphane Delbecque]