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Buggy Keyword Tools

Today’s SEO researcher enjoys the choice between numerous keyword generation tools, each of which offers their own relative strengths and weaknesses.

Take, for example, both Yahoo’s Overture Keyword Selector Tool and the Keyword Discovery Tool. I use these two interchangeably, often because what I expect to be fairly common search terms bring up no data in one or the other database. I’m hesitant to trust either tool completely, mostly because of some strange inconsistencies as well as the skewed nature of the data. Not to mention the irritating way both are prone to crashing, and require frequently reloading the page.

Beginning with the Yahoo tool—recently, in researching phrases related to event-planning, I observed some questionable numbers. In the results for variations of the query ‘event facility’, what appeared to be almost identical phrases showed up, but with one slight variation. ‘Michigan event facility’ consistently brought up data shown for the phrase ‘catering corporate event facility michigan’ with 55 searches, while ‘detroit event facility’ brought up the suspiciously similar ‘catering corporate detroit event facility’, also with 55 searches. Coincidence, or is the database using some sort of synonym mapping to equate ‘michigan’ and ‘detroit’? One of the seemingly quirkiest aspects of the tool is the way both it as well as the Keyword Discovery tool frequently supply relatively large search estimates for long, obscure queries. At first glance, it seems hard to believe; so many people are taking the time to enter every single word of long titles and names? Chalk it up to automated queries, more prevalent in the Yahoo network data than in others. Another is the fact that the Yahoo tool presents a single month’s data, making it difficult to gauge trends.

Google’s alternative, the Keyword Tool, offers at least one way around this limitation with its Search Volume Trends option. Unfortunately, the improved ability to gauge trends comes at the cost of a loss of valuable numerical data, raising the question of which is more ultimately more useful in keyword consideration. Is it possible to form an accurate picture of larger trends without the hard-and-fast numbers as support?

Is a single tool that supplies both numbers as well as representing overall trends so much to ask? Will the new keyword tool to be released by Yahoo later this year address this need?

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