Early in September, I was working on a client’s search engine optimization (SEO) report when a not-so-funny thing happened.
I was performing keyword research within the Google Keyword Planner tool (part of our usual process), and everything was going along quite nicely, until … something changed.
Instead of delivering an actual number for “average monthly searches” associated with the keyword phrase I was researching, Google gave me a range — a very wide range.
I tested Google’s new range against some hard numbers I had attained on a previous keyword report. For one of the keywords, which had originally received 300 average monthly searches per month in the Madison area, Google was now giving me average monthly searches range of “100-1000.”
This renders Google Keyword Planner unusable, as the metrics are no longer accurate — not by a long shot!
When we create a keyword report, the more specific the information we gather, the better. We need to know whether a particular keyword phrase garners an average of 300, 600, or 900 searches per month. Why? Because search volume is one of the metrics we use to determine which keywords are optimal for a particular client. And although it’s only part of our process, it’s a critical one.
Get Your Adwords Here!
Months before the actual change, Google had alluded to the fact that there would indeed be a change occurring. But, other than needing to have an official Google Adwords account, there was some ambiguity as to what else — if anything — would change.
So, I called Google in an effort to clarify the situation. My Google rep explained to me that there was still a way to get the original, more accurate average monthly search numbers back.
How much? She wouldn’t tell. I asked her more than once what my minimum spend needed to be, but I was told to start using Adwords and test out spend amounts to see when the more accurate numbers reappeared. This ambiguous course of action was not a wise choice for Cuppa SEO to take.
One thing was clear: it was blatantly obvious that only clients who have a large Adwords spend get to see the accurate numbers. The rest are out of luck.
We had to find a replacement for Google Keyword Planner.
Solid Alternatives to Google Keyword Planner
One of the nice features of Google Keyword Planner was regional search, which is not a feature of many other apps out there. Regional searches allow you to search by city and state, as well as nationally, which is an important component to optimizing any regionalized business. Many of the SEO tools out there provide results on a national (country-based) level, which means they’re usefulness is limited.
If you’re managing the SEO on your own website, you can use an application like ahrefs or SEMrush to enter regional keyword phrases and track how your site ranks for them. But these applications don’t do a good job of showing you the average monthly searches and competition for those regional phrases, so they’re only good for tracking keywords you’ve already implemented.
But what about those who need to optimize a new or existing website?
The very best solution I’ve found is keywordtool.io (pro version). It allows you to choose search parameters by region — and it gives you accurate metrics regarding search and competition levels for any keyword or keyword phrase.
Need help with your SEO?
Don’t have the time or expertise to optimize your website yourself? Feel free to contact Cuppa SEO to set up a complimentary consultation to discuss your needs further.