The Google Keyword Planner has presented many difficulties to marketers who are not willing to pay for keyword data. Fortunately, there are viable and helpful alternate Keyword research tools that they can use to collect all data that they need. This post enumerates three reasons why choosing these alternatives is better than using the Keyword Planner.
If you were an avid user of the Google Keyword Tool in your SEO campaigns, you're likely as disappointed and frustrated as many other online marketers and SEO specialists around the world. It was reliable, accurate, affordable, and best of all, provided by Google itself, the biggest and the most popular search engine today.
When it was replaced by the far less keyword-generous Google Keyword Planner couple of months ago, industry experts could not help but speculate that Google is now slowly pushing everyone to make more use of its pay-per-click (PPC) services through its high income-generating AdWords subsidiary. Dan Sullivan of Search Engine Land partially agrees with this, though he believes that Google may not have intended for this to happen.
Google, through the Google Keyword Planner, which is a tool that combines many of the features of the Keyword Tool and Traffic Estimator, makes it harder for marketers and SEO specialists to create organic keyword search campaigns by withholding keyword information. It is free to use but you will need to have an AdWords account to be able to use it.
1. Google Concerned About Security?
The search engine giant has repeatedly stated that they are concerned with their users’ privacy, which could be compromised every time visits to non-secure websites are tracked for keyword relevance. Experts are not convinced because they argue that user information could be leaked through other ways, including Google Instant auto-complete and Google Webmaster Central service. Even the National Security Agency was reportedly able to extract information through links to Google despite the tightened security.
Others refer to the surge of “not provided” data in their keywords tracking analytics as further proof that Google is slowly forcing non-paying publishers into using its PPC services. In May 2014, the “not provided”metrics hit a record high of 85.04% and will hit 100% on 5th August 2015 (based on current rate of growth)
The most telling evidence of all is that the same keyword information is not withheld from AdWords users.
Let us take a look at why it is a good idea to use alternatives to the Google Keyword Planner:
A 100% “not provided” metrics is possible. Some industry experts believe that the online marketing world may one day come to a point when every keyword used in Google searches will be paid. As stated previously, many websites have observed an increase in their keyword “not provided” results, as well as a decline in referring organic keywords.
Google began encrypting search results in 2011 in order to protect their logged-in users’ privacy by switching from http to https. Things got even tighter earlier this year when they extended search results encryption for ALL users following the Edward Snowden mass surveillance controversy.
2. Marketers will be forced to use more meaningful—but more difficult—methods.
Andy Pitre, HubSpot’s Analytics Product Manager admits that the changes brought about by the phasing out of the Google Keyword Tool have indeed brought new challenges, though they are not exactly outside the scope of what his team normally does:
“... As marketers, we are also accustomed to living in a world where we frequently only have access to incomplete information. A big part of our job is to interpret that incomplete data and make the best decisions we can… Our decision-making process in this area will have to adapt to these new circumstances, but it won’t stop us from reaching the customers who are searching for our products and services.”
Marketers now have to focus on creating content that is much more relevant to their clients’ businesses. DigitalRelevance co-founder Aaron Arders, in an interview with HubSpot, argues that this should have been the case from the beginning:
“While secure searches may seem frustrating to many SEO marketers, this is actually a great move for our industry. Great SEO today is great content with powerful digital endorsements from relevant and authoritative websites… This move by Google will force SEO marketers to focus on business results rather than keywords—which is where the focus should be anyway.”
Other search engines offer friendly but free or cheaper tools. Despite Yahoo!’s announcement that they will switch to https for their default email settings (users already have the option to enable https now), it is not clear whether they will follow Google’s lead by encrypting query results pages any time soon. Bing, Baidu, DuckDuckGo and other search engines have not made any similar statements either.
Most search engines have their own keyword tools that you can use in conjunction with third-party ones (such as Übersuggest, SEMRush and WordTracker) so that you can cross check keyword strength in Google. You can also launch more optimization campaigns in these search engines since they have some significant following too.
3. What The Future Holds For Marketers
Unfortunately, there is no quick and easy way around the challenges that Google has brought to the SEO world. The situation is already there and it doesn't seem that things will revert to how they were before. A new set of standards has been set, and marketers have no other choice but to adjust their methods.
This could be what will actually separate the men from the boys because the best marketers only see opportunities not difficulties. :-)
21 Best Alternatives to The Google Keyword Planner
It is still completely possible to direct considerable organic search traffic without the Google Keyword Planner by creating more focused and high-quality content. If you are not willing to use the Keyword Planner, however, there are other some of the best web analytics tools and methods that can provide you with reasonably quality services.
Here is a list of top 21 free and premium keyword tools that can be used to research keywords for SEO and PPC.
1. Übersuggest (Free) Provides you with a wide range of keyword suggestions, including the top 10 and those that begin with each letter of the alphabet.
2. WordStream (Free) Provides the latest and most relevant long-tail suggestions for your keyword/s from a database of over a trillion entries.
3. SEO Book Keyword Tool (Free) offers daily search volumes for Google, Yahoo! and MSN and links to AdWords's price estimates tools, vertical databases and other keyword tools.
4. Wordpot (Free) tells you how popular your keyword is and how often it is searched based on their 60 million-keyword (and growing) bank.
5. Keywordtool Dominator (Free & Paid) provides results from Google, eBay, Bing, Amazon and Google Products.
6. Keyword Discovery (Free & Paid) gives you up to 50 free searches. Premium service starts at $69.95 per month and provides in-depth keyword analysis. Suggestions are collected from top search engines.
7. SEMrush (Paid) Provides you information about your competitors' organic and paid keywords. Prices start at $69.95 per month, or $79.95 for one month.
8. Moz Keyword Analysis tool (Paid) gives you the top 10 websites ranking for your keyword/s which are then assigned a “difficulty” score based on the pages that rank for that word. Prices start at $99 per month with the Moz premium membership.
9. Raven Tools Research Central (Paid) Raven Tool’s Research Central is a one-stop source of detailed information for your keyword/s from Moz, Majestic SEO and OpenCalais. Comes with the Raven Tools' premium membership, which starts at $99 per month.
10. Advanced Web Ranking (Paid) collects data from multiple sources including Google AdWords, Google Webmaster API, Google Trends, Google Suggest, 7Search, SEMRush, Wordtracker, Yahoo API Related Keyword Search. Prices start at $199 for Lifetime license.
11. Keyword Spy (Paid) lets you research your competitors' organic, paid search and affiliate keywords. Prices start at $89.95 per month.
12. Wordtracker (Paid) helps you track high-performing keywords which are gathered from customers who are ready to buy. Prices start at $69 per month.
13. Keyword Eye (Free & Paid) allows you to analyze on site content, monitor competitors, and simplifies keyword research. Pro version is available for £9.99 per month.
14. Long Tail Pro (Paid) helps you find long-tail keywords and domains through five or more “seed” keywords. Lifetime license costs $97, while additional optional features are available for $17 per month.
15. SpyFu (Paid) is a competitor analysis tool just like SemRush, it Provides you information about your competitors.
16. Keyword Snatcher (Paid) collects data from multiple sources. It also provides niche ideas. Lifetime license costs $47.
17. Fresh key (Paid) is a niche idea generator. It provides Amazon Keyword Phrase Data for Niche Sales and it can also be used for commercial keyword research. Lifetime license costs $20.
18. Market Samurai (Paid) gets most of its data from the Google keyword planner.
19. HitTail (Paid) also helps you find long-tail keywords long tail searches that users have used to find your site in real time. It requires access to your Google Analytics account.
20. Ispionage (Paid) is a also a competitor analysis tool. Price starts at $59 per month.
21. Ginzametrics (Paid) is a competitor analysis tool just like Semrush and Ispoinage. Price starts at $1000 per month.
Do you agree with these three reasons why marketers should use alternatives to the Google Keyword Planner? Did I miss any great keyword tool? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.