Keyword Suggestion Tools From Google And SEOBook

    December 16, 2008

Key Differences Among the Most Commonly Used Keyword Suggestion Tools – Part Two

The 800-Pound Gorilla and the New Kid on the Block: Google and SEOBook

In our last article covering the similarities, differences, and uses of the most commonly used keyword suggestion tools we focused on comparing the usage, operation models, and results of Wordtracker, KeywordDiscovery, and NicheBot. For Part Two we will be covering the tools Google brings to the table and SEOBook’s Keyword Suggestion Tool.

Google rising

With the way the company has exploded in the last decade, especially over the last five years or so, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Google was taking over the world, not just the Internet. The fact is, they are growing, changing, expanding and refining all of their diverse operations with such velocity that some bloggers and “industry analysts” make a full-time out of tracking Google.

They track Google while Google tracks everything net-related, so you can avail yourself of some of Google’s powerful tools. Some are free, some used to be free – like its Adwords API (Application Programming Interface) – and others cost you in various ways, from money to time to learning curves. But there is no way to do your work, if you work in web marketing, without the Google tools.

The basic Google tools

Google Suggest is good place to start accumulating your list of words and phrases to be researched. It is a fast (some would say “quick and dirty”) way of identifying common word combinations and how many pages are relevant to them. When you start typing your search into Google’s search box, a dropdown box opens listing terms that start with those letters and the number of pages that would come up in a search for each term. What this basically gives you is a very quick way to get a snapshot of related terms and their relative competitive landscape.

If you were to type in "fly," Google Suggest would potentially give you such extrapolations as "fly fishing" or "fly larvae," taking you off on your chosen tangent. Typing in parts of words, like "prob," might show extrapolations such as "probation," "probability," "problem child," or "probono." This tool is particularly helpful in building out your first keyword lists, letting you then focus on terms you deem most worthy of further research.

Google Trends lets you assess the popularity of particular terms and phrases against one other, and even supplies a history of the “most searched” terms from 2004 through the present. The particular search terms’ popularity is expressed as a proportion of the total search volume, which is calculated for different regions of the world, even in a variety of languages.

You can also compare the volume of searches among multiple terms, and can display news associated with search terms on charts displaying the effect of the news on term popularity and presence. This can help you make snap decisions about whether to concentrate on one set of keywords or some other. If you want to get a handle on how searches are affected by regional anomalies and external factors, this is a good tool for that.

Google AdWords Keyword Tool

Until late 2006 the features in the AdWords tool kit were free. Then Google began to charge for the API portion of the tool, with a 25-per-thousand fee that sounded low until big users started adding it up. The controversy has abated greatly, but it did leave a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths.

Google responded with a free External Tool outside of AdWords for those that desired keyword help but did not have an AdWords account. It was truly a tool that suggested keywords only, returning a great number of keywords related to the term you entered but offering no search quantity numbers to show how often people actually searched for each term daily or monthly.

More recently Google added the search metrics that a lot of marketers and business owners have been craving. Their External Tool now shows how many times the keywords you are researching were searched last month on Google related properties, as well as a twelve-month average for the terms. It also features a measurement that shows you the advertiser competition for each.

For AdWords accounts holders the AdWords Keyword Tool is tightly “Google integrated” of course, and not only helps you estimate your AdWords campaign cost but provides information on the competition levels among your chosen, targeted keywords and terms.

The AdWords Traffic Estimator is another tool that can provide data on total potential clicks for each ad, each day, for each keyword, but they are merely approximates. It also estimates potential cost so you have an idea what your daily spend would be for those terms. For natural search research it is helpful in compiling an initial list for further, detailed research, which is the point at which you would bring other keyword analytics tools into the process.

As with all of the free and fee-based tools, they are best seen as an “information buffet,” a range of tools and tests from which you can assemble the best toolkit for your particular project. Your needs may change from one task to the next, from one product to the next, so you need the greatest amount of flexibility you can get. Some people are now saying that SEOBook’s Keyword Suggestion Tool is the best “anchor program” on which to hang other specialized tools.

The up-and-comer

SEO industry stalwart Aaron Wall developed the Keyword Suggestion Tool for SEOBook, and it is popular for not reinventing the wheel, essentially. That is, it aggregates the most successful and effective suggestion tools on the Internet –Google tools, the “visual tool” Quintura (with its “word clouds”), Wordtracker and even Yahoo metrics, back when there were some.

Its proponents say that SEOBook’s tool is the right one for anyone, any time, because of its components. By combining results, it does save time, but some professional traffic mongers prefer to set the tools against each other for comparison, rather than aggregation, purposes.

Still, features of the tool are legion. It can estimate certain keyword traffic in Google, Yahoo and MSN independently, or add it together for average total daily traffic. It links up to the Google Trends data for the targeted keyword(s) and employs the Google Traffic Estimator to determine the daily cost for advertising the subject terms.

The SEOBook tool also allows you to get an idea of your competitors’ numbers by interfacing with Google, Wordtracker and the UK’s Overture. It also makes use of the GoRank SEO Tools and Ontology Finder, and checks the top 1000 Google results for your terms by running queries on related words. It would be a good idea to look at GoRank’s new link popularity analyzer, which is just now being made ready for beta testing (as of September 20). It’s completely free and supports up to 30 backlinks. Once beta testing is complete, it will have the capability to analyze up to 1000 backlinks.

At the bottom of the SEOBook Keyword Suggestion Tool page is a list of potential searches you can perform on a “vertical database” – for news, blogs, directories, tags, thesauruses, dictionaries, encyclopedias, classified ad listings, audio, video, competitive, groups and other tangents.

Who, what, how and why

There are still differences among keyword analysis tools and keyword suggestion tool, but as they continue to aggregate each others’ functions and link to various other third-party programs, there is bound to be some “convergence.” There is a great deal of “shakeout” still to come in this sector, and following Yahoo’s almost-ignominious retreat from this arena the winnowing process would appear to be gaining some momentum.

Using any or all of the available suggestion tools can be a very nerve-wracking experience. There is always the chance that you will start taking the results and suggestions as gospel, and making sweeping changes based on data that changes by the nanosecond. It takes patience to make these tools perform their best, and there is no substitute for the human brain. It is the ultimate analytical tool.

Whatever tools you use, in whatever manner, it is wise to maintain a healthy skepticism about the results. Various industry analysts have run tests that show a wide discrepancy between what some of the tools report, and what they actually do. This is not to say there is misrepresentation (sometimes called “lying”) going on. It is more a function of the transient nature of knowledge and the rapid turnover of data sets in Internet-related enterprises. Use the tools, certainly, but use your head, primarily.