In August 2013 we saw the Google Keyword Tool as we know it, cease to exist. It's has been replaced by the Keyword Planner. You can read the official announcement here
The new Keyword Planner requires a user to have an active Google AdWords account in order to use the tool, plus there have been many other changes too.
I wanted to talk to you a little bit about those changes, and show you 5 cool and FREE keyword tools that I have been using as an alternative to the Google Keyword Planner.
Along with a complete overhaul of the look and feel, the keyword planner has lost a lot of the functionality we all used in the keyword tool.
>> Gone is the ability to switch between Broad, Exact and Phrase match, in fact, this ‘was' available at first, however, the volume of keyword searches didn't change when you moved between Broad, Exact and Phrase match. This was one of the first alarm bells to start ringing!
>> The keywords returned are also unhelpful. Long tail phrases seem to have taken a back seat in favor of shorter 1 and 2-word keywords. The fact that you can no longer choose ‘closely related keywords' clearly shows Google's intent here. They want to steer people away from a keyword focused mindset, in favor of content generated solely for the user, regardless of whether it will drive traffic to your website.
>> You are also no longer able to choose device targeting, such as mobile phone or tablet devices. It now defaults to ‘all devices' which brings the tool in line with changes made to Google AdWords, which again shows how serious they are to get us paying for traffic.
>> The search volume data no longer matches what we had in the Keyword Tool. Google's statement below explains why;
>> In general, you'll notice that the average search volume data is higher in Keyword Planner as compared to the exact match search volume data you got with Keyword Tool. That's because we'll show you the average number of searches for a keyword idea on all devices (desktop and laptop computers, tablets, and mobile phones). With Keyword Tool, we showed you average search volume for desktop and laptop computers by default.
There are a few other subtle changes which you can read about in Google's full statement here.
For a tutorial on how to use the Keyword Planner, have a look at the tutorial created by Larry Kim over at Search Engine Land.
5 Google Keyword Tool Alternatives
This next section will cover 5 of the best Google Keyword Tool alternatives. All of them are FREE and have been used by myself very recently. So I will tell you the pro's and con's of each so you can make an informed choice as to which tool you use in the future.
1. Word Pot
WordPot has to be the fastest keyword research tool I have ever used. The speed in which your results are returned is awesome and the slick interface only improves the experience.
WordPot has been gathering search data from many real-time data sources for a number of years now. Here's what they say in their FAQ;
We collect our data from a combination of the real-time searches done on popular meta search engines (like Metacrawler and Dogpile) and results published by Google (zeitgeist), Yahoo and Msn.
We are doing this 24/7 and have been collecting data and building our database for a number of years. We then aggregate the results together to come up with the numbers that you see on the site.
Another really great element of WordPot is that they return both the volume of ‘Exact Daily' searches and ‘Total Searches' for each keyword.
‘Exact Searches' being, as we all know it, the exact keywords typed into the search engine.
‘Total Searches' is the combined aggregated figure of Exact, Phrase and Broad match keywords such as;
- Window Blinds (Exact match)
- Where to Buy Window Blinds (Phrase Match)
- The man looked through the Window (Broad Match)
Only an initial seed keyword is required to submit your search. Once your results are returned, that's when the fun starts.
As you can see the results are clear with just 4 columns displayed; Suggestions, Exact Daily, Total Daily and Add to Project. This last column allows you to create projects and select the keywords to wish to save for further investigation and analysis.
When you add keywords to a project, you can then view them in the project screen where you then have export and filter options.
Back to the search results and we have a sidebar that allows us to modify our search settings.
By changing the search results source to a specific search engine, you can see how the volumes change.
The one thing I think would be a great addition to this tool would be an ‘Exact Monthly' search column. Obviously, you can just take the daily and times by an average of 30 or 31 days, however, to make it, even more, user-friendly it wouldn't take WordPot much to include this feature and make a great tool even better.
2. Uber Suggest
I really love this tool which is why it's first on my list. With such a simple interface its easy think that this tool won't deliver…but it really does.
There are 5 steps to creating your first keyword search;
- Enter a target keyword into the keyword box
- Select Language/Country
- Select the media type you wish to search (Web, Images, News, Shopping, Video, Recipes)
- Type in the numbers from the 2 captcha images you see
- Hit ‘Suggest'
The beauty of UberSuggest lies in the search results.
The results are actually displayed vertically, but I have copied them into an image so you can see what it's doing.
It takes our seed keyword, in this case, I used “Window Blinds”, and it appends a character or digit to the end of your search string.
So if we enter “Window Blinds” UberSuggest adds the letter “a” to the end and the search string becomes “Window Blinds + a” for all other keywords that follow the term window blinds starting with the letter “a”. It's very clever.
The tool doesn't stop there, however. You then have the option to click each keyword suggestion to expand that keyword, and reveal yet more related keywords! See the screenshot below;
As you can see, by clicking on “Window Blinds Amazon”, 3 more super related keywords are revealed which are;
- arch window blinds Amazon
- velux window blinds Amazon
- vertical window blinds Amazon
I don't know about you but I could certainly use that info if I was considering building an Amazon Affiliates site based around the window blind niche.
The downside to this tool is that there are no keyword search volumes provided, which is unfortunate as I think this could be an even better resource with that feature.
3. SEO Book
Once you register for your free account, you can then access the SEOBooks keyword tool.
SEOBook provides a free Keyword tool that gives daily search volumes for your keyword and 100 other related keyword terms.
There are several columns of information provided, with some of the key ones being;
- Daily Search Volume
- Google Daily Search Estimate
- Yahoo + Bing daily Search Estimate
- Google Trends quick link
- AdWords quick link
This tool is fast and easy to use and I even managed to find some nice related keywords to help with content ideas for my niche sites.
One other interesting section of the results are, what I can only describe as the awesome link section.
This is basically a whole host of shortcut links to tools and functions you may need when conducting your keyword research. For example, there are links for;
- Technorati Blog Finder
- Google, Yahoo & Bing News Search
- Google, Yahoo & Bing Local Search
- Yahoo Answers search
- MSN News
- Newsvine search
The search results are not so easy on the eyes and it takes a while to adjust to the full-width display. I found the best way for me was to export my results to a CSV file and work with it from there, and whilst the large link section is good, it is very messy and could do with some TLC from SEOBook.
The best thing about WordTracker that I really like is the ability to search using 2 different methods;
- Find keywords that INCLUDE the keyword you enter
- Find keywords that are RELATED to the keyword you enter
This allows you to have various angles to your research and I have even used it for content ideas in the past, on an existing site that needed some fresh content.
The way WordTracker gathers & displays their data is somewhat different from the other free tools in this post. Here's what they have to say about it;
The search count for Wordtracker data is the number of times each keyword appears in our database of real searches, made by real people over the past 30 days. It's updated every week. The data is from a major search engine advertising network which passes us, on average, 3.5 billion worldwide searches per month. It delivers traffic from hundreds of niche web properties, search engines and portals.
So they have quite a substantial data source and the search volume (or count as they call it) is as fresh as you can get, being the last 30 days of searches. There is also a paid option to WordTracker which allows you to use the SemRush data, which does provide far more results and in-depth data.
Along with the search volume, they also provide a ‘competition' score ranging from 1 to 100, In Anchor and Title, which is the total number of sites that contain the keyword in the Title tag and in the anchor text in a backlink from an external web page.
Last of all the best part for me is the Keyword Effectiveness Index (KEI), which again ranges from 1 to 100. I will let WordTracker explain what it does;
KEI – Based on the relationship between competitive elements and search volume. The higher the KEI figure, the more potential a keyword is liable to have – that is to say, there is little competition in relation to the search volume.
WordTracker Search Results
Only 100 results are returned, if you want more you have to upgrade to the paid version.
It can also take a while to understand exactly what it is you are looking at on the results page, however, there is a detailed help file should you need it…I did!
A simple interface with a lot of power, SpyFu is very easy to use and the information it returns is very easy to understand. Whilst it does return ‘some' related keywords the main feature of SpyFu which goes hand in hand with the keyword research tool, is the Adwords profitability info.
Each keyword you search brings back the monthly search volume (provided by Google public domain data), the cost per click (CPC) for AdWords, and the estimated daily cost of the traffic should you choose to pay for clicks rather than SEO.
As you can see from the search result above, we have 8,100 UK EXACT MATCH searches for our term ‘Window Blinds'. Each click would cost an average of £1.93 and the total daily cost to use AdWords would come in at £130.
What I like about SpyFu is how easy it is to read and pick out the key info you need immediately.
There is also information on the number of advertisers for your keyword, so if you were thinking of using AdSense to monetize your site then you would want a nice healthy number of advertisers paying a high CPC 🙂
Profitable Related Keywords
The next section of the results shows us the Profitable Related Keywords, these are variations of our keyword search term and it shows us the ad statistics for those sites who are paying for traffic via AdWords.
There is a lot of other data around the best performing ads in Google AdWords further down in the search results, so if you want to delve into that you can do.
A little restrictive on countries with just the US & UK allowed, and you will have to subscribe in order to export the other profitable keywords that it suggests.
Apart from that, it's definitely worth a go to see what nuggets it brings back.
Of the 5 free keyword tools above, I would have to say the WordPot is my favorite, followed by UberSuggest, WordTracker, and SpyFu.
SEOBook will have to be my least favorite due to the look and feel of the search results.
I hope this helps you in choosing an alternative tool for your keyword research. If you have any favorite tools that I have not discussed here, please share in the comments.
Image courtesy of jscreationzs