Planning Life Without the Keyword Planner
If you’re an AdWords user, chances are fairly high that you’ve checked out Google’s Keyword Planner at least once. Even if you’re not an avid user, you have probably used it at some point for keyword research. It’s a handy tool to optimize your website or find new blog topic ideas. This free tool helps you pick and choose the right search terms (keywords), or group of keywords, to help build out your AdWords campaign. But recently people have begun to notice some changes to how their planners are working.
Several years ago you used to be able to use the keyword planning tool without registering for an AdWords account. Then it got harder… where you had to go through a backdoor access point to get to the planner. Now that backdoor is officially closed. To be clear, signing up for an AdWords account doesn’t mean you had to run live ads. Creating an account is enough to give you access to the tool. Now here’s the new twist: you need to keep your account active in order to continue using the Keyword Planner.
The second change is that the accuracy of the tool now seems to be tied to how much money your account is spending. So, if you’re using the tool with an account that isn’t running campaigns, don’t expect to see exactly how many searches are taking place for your keyword. We’re not sure what the threshold ad spend is. As you can imagine forums are abuzz with speculation. As we learn more, we’ll share that bit of info.
If you’re running a small business and you don’t have a large marketing budget, this has the potential of being really bad news. The Keyword Planner, when free, enabled smaller businesses to at least start from the same position as companies with more money. However, with these new limitations, smaller businesses may need to look further. From a PR standpoint, Google seems to be changing their tune. They touted themselves as being small-business friendly. Restricting access to data based upon advertising spend is ticking folks off in a big way.
So, are there other sources for similar information now that the Keyword Planner Tool isn’t so useful?
What Else is Out There?
There are many keywords tools available and there are a few we think are worth checking out. However, keep in mind that tool providers need to use an API (Application Program Interface) to get a direct feed from Google to be accurate.
SEMrush – SEMrush offers very similar tools to the keyword planner, with some added functionality and an easier to use interface. While you can use SEMrush for free, obviously the data you see is limited. Another option you have is to use their free trial (you get one month) to test the full power of the tool. Then you can see if it is worth purchasing at $70/month.
Keyword.io – Keyword.io offers similar features to both the Keyword Planner and SEMrush but focuses on longer tail keywords. Their interface is slightly less elegant than SEMrush, but they do offer the ability to easily check keywords on a number of different platforms from Google to Amazon. They also let you use the tool for free, with and without needing to sign up. In addition to that, there is a paid “Pro” version of the tool that starts at $49/month.
BuzzSumo – BuzzSumo is an interesting tool but not strictly speaking for keyword research, especially if you’re looking for keywords to optimize your content. BuzzSumo lets you search for content based related on your search term. So you can put in your keywords and see if the results match what you think the keyword means to you. Another interesting feature is the option to search for influencers on a particular topic, which sets it apart from the other tools slightly.
So, if your Keyword Planner has been throttled, there are a number of different tools you can use instead. Are you bummed about the Keyword Planner tool? Is there another tool you like as much or better?
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