Goodbye Keyword Research…

Posted by on Aug 5, 2016 in Google Adwords

For those SEOs in the audience, you are likely aware of the sad news, but for those just getting started or unaware, Google has killed the keyword planner used by so many in their keyword estimations, research, and planning.

Okay, “killed” is a bit strong but damn it, we need some inside data, GOOGLE!


What Actually Changed

Well, data is still being provided in Google Keyword Planner, but the keyword data isn’t isolated to exact-match of the keyword(s) entered anymore. In a RankBrain world, relevance matters, so the keyword planner now offers a consolidated search volume for similar, variations, and close synonyms of keywords. This update went into practice at the end of June, beginning of July. Over the course of the month, some users also experienced error messages stating:

To use Keyword Planner, you need to have at least one active campaign. If you have an active campaign and are still seeing this message, try reloading Keyword Planner in a few minutes.

Although, Google contradicted this messaging when users responded and questioned Google on social media.

But I digress. The keyword planner, when using it to gather keyword data and find new keywords, the system gives the same volume for search variants. RankBrain does the same thing from an organic search perspective; hence the expected correlation between the two.

Here is the example all us SEOs are using (usually just SEO vs Search Engine Optimization):

Comparing SEO terms in Tennessee

Comparing SEO terms in Tennessee

What should be noted in the example above is that the competition, bid, and other segments appear to still align with specific keywords.


The Good, The Bad, and The Workaround

Is this a sign that [not provided] is coming to Adwords too?! Will Google limit the number of keywords users can evaluate? Will we feeble marketers need to sacrifice young animals to obtain data from the Google gods? No, no, and hopefully not. That isn’t to say that we know everything Google has planned or up their sleeves but indications are that this change aligns well with organic search; where ads are meant to appear. Remember, Google isn’t a charity and the planner is meant to be used for paid media efforts–with Google.

Although we love the tool and use it in a number of areas, not just for Adwords campaigns, that is its purpose. We can’t fault Google for aligning their tools together. So, how do you get some sweet, specific keyword average search volumes? Currently, the workaround is to use the budget planner (within the keyword tool) to get that data.

In the “Plan your budget and get forecasts” block, you can specify the match type, targeting, and parameters.

Plan your budget and get forecasts

From there, the tool will provide daily forecast for the keywords entered. Depending on the match type, CPC bid, and budget you will see details for the clicks, impressions, cost, CTR, average CPC, and average position. In previous posts, we talked about pricing SEO, well, here is how you do some of that work. Make sure the move the selector to the plateau on the chart and open up the keyword group to see the specifics.

Keyword Planner Forecast for SEO

Again, this update to the keyword planner and this workaround align well with Google’s strategy for organic search quality and personalization along with connecting paid media deeper to the overall strategy and search experience.


The Wrapper

The purpose of Google’s Keyword Planner is to help marketers market things. They (Google) wouldn’t want to hurt their bottomline by taking away the ability of paid marketers to research and plan keyword-based search ads just to reduce the amount of freeloaders that make use of their tools without ever using Adwords. (Image: throwing a baby out with the bath water) That said, the change makes sense when tied to RankBrain, semantic web, and personalized/predictive search.

The value of the keyword, from a search perspective, isn’t just the keyword itself, but how Google delivers media to users via the term used. Step into the mind of a user searching for, say, “best burgers in town” and most can understand how several long and short tail queries could align with this search. We have all put our faith in search systems to provide us with the answers to our burning questions and over the years, they have refined that craft just as we, the brand ambassadors and marketeers, have refined and redefined ours.

It’s just good business… savvy?

Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World's End.

Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World’s End. Walt Disney Pictures.


A. Chris TurnerAbout the Author: Chris Turner is also known as ChocolateSEO. CSEO is Chris' Nashville search marketing and consulting service offering a variety of services to help you, your company and any website maximize web-based marketing opportunities. He is the father of three girls, one boy (finally) and husband to the wonderful Savannah. Join the author's circle: Chris Turner on Google+.