Anyone who uses the Google Keyword Tool on a regular basis may have noticed some changes recently. The main one being the significant decrease in search volume results. Surprisingly enough, it has been kept relatively quiet considering the impact. Google made no announcement of the change and although there are lots of blog and forum posts about it, I just felt that the situation didn’t get the reaction it really deserved.
But then again perhaps like us, others have been waiting to see what the impact of all this means because at this point in time, there is still ongoing debate about whether the changes are beneficial or not. There seems to be two schools of thought – those who think the changes have resulted in more accurate data and those that think the old results were more accurate.
The changes came through at the beginning of September and we personally didn’t even realize until some time closer to the end of that month. I think that was the case with a lot of people. Unless you are constantly comparing search volume numbers for your keywords you probably wouldn’t have even have noticed the difference. The changes basically involved a rather dramatic decrease in the number of results for the Global and Local Monthly Searches.
As we already mentioned, there was no real announcement from Google regarding this change, in fact, about all we got from them was a paragraph left by a Google employee on one of their forums which read as follows:
“If you use both the previous and updated versions of the Keyword Tool to search for keywords, you may notice differences between the tools for statistics on Global Monthly Searches and Local Monthly Searches. This is because the previous version of the Keyword Tool provides search statistics based on Google.com search traffic and traffic from search partners, while the updated version of the Keyword Tool provides search statistics based on Google.com traffic only. We’ve updated these statistics based on user feedback, and hope you find them helpful for keyword selection.”
If we want to see examples of the difference in volumes we only need to look at a couple of keywords like ‘bathroom supplies’ for instance which has gone from 5400 local monthly searches to only 880. And another – ‘golf clubs’ which has moved from 165,000 searches to 33,100. As you can see, these are not simple statistical errors but massive differences in search volumes.
Even one of my brothers who has just started building a website has noticed a significant decrease in one of his major keywords which went from 120,000 down to 18,000.
So is it more accurate?
Well we did a little test since we are ranked no.1 for quite a number of keywords so decided to run a check on a few of of those keywords to see how they compare. Here’s the results for our data in September using our traffic results from Google Analytics data and comparing it to the local monthly search volumes (exact match) from the Google Keyword Tool data:
Our traffic – 1623
Google Keyword Tool estimate – 1900
Our traffic – 1726
Google Keyword Tool estimate – 4400
Our traffic – 713
Google Keyword Tool estimate – 720
Our traffic – 487
Google Keyword Tool estimate – 480
As you can see, the Google Keyword Tool results compares quite well with those few keywords so perhaps it is more accurate. If this is the case, then this is excellent news. It means we won’t be sitting wondering why we aren’t getting all that traffic even though we are ranked no.1 in Google. It also means that when we build a website, we will know the exact traffic numbers before hand. There won’t be any nasty surprises after we’ve spent months trying to build up our websites.
However, at the same time it means that anything we may have done in the past may be all for naught as we realize they will never generate the traffic numbers we were expecting. We have over 20 websites and not all of them have performed as well as we expected them to. Mind you, they would probably do better if we put a bit more effort into them but even so, had we had more accurate data to begin with , then we might not have lost motivation earlier on when we realized we weren’t getting the traffic numbers we were expecting.
So I see this change as being beneficial because it looks like we can build websites with more confidence as having more accurate data means we know what to expect in traffic volumes once we hit the no.1 spot in Google.
Would love to hear what our readers think about this change and if you see it as a positive or negative change.