Keyword Tools: Google vs. Wordtracker

In response to Q and A: Pay Per Click Search Engine Marketing, Joe asked “Doesn’t Google Adwords keyword tool give you the same info regarding number of searches as wordtracker? What’s wordtracker’s advantage that you don’t get with Google?

Those are good questions to ask, especially when you might be thinking about buying a subscription to Wordtracker, so I’ll do my best to answer them.

First of all, what you’ll notice when you do keyword searches using Google’s Keyword Tool and Wordtracker, is that you see wildly different numbers.

Here’s an example. The screenshots below show search results for the keyword phrase “weight training” using both services.

Google vs. Wordtracker Keyword Tool
Google Results

Google vs. Wordtracker Keyword Tool
Wordtracker Results

As you can see, Google Global Monthly Search Volume returned 550,000 searches versus Wordtracker’s Count of 434.

OK, so what we first have to realize is that Google is reporting monthly figures and Wordtracker is reporting daily figures.

More importantly, the default search on Google returns Broad match results whereas Wordtracker returns an Exact match. (See below for more definitions of Google’s Global Monthly Search Volume, Broad Match and Wordtracker’s Count and Predicted Count returns.)

Below are the results of a refined Google search, set to “Exact Match”.

Google vs. Wordtracker Keyword Tool
Google Exact Match Results

Note how the Local search volume decreased from over half a million to 49,500 and the Global results amounted to 74,000 — both of which still amount to much more than Wordtracker’s 434 x 31 = 13,454 total results for the month.

Why the big difference?

Wordtracker is open about the fact that they extract and extrapolate their data from two metacrawlers, Dogpile.com and Metacrawler.com – services that query all the main search engines simultaneously. Their results represent approximately just under 1% of daily searches across all search engines.

However, only Google knows the size of the sample that they use to extrapolate their information, although it is known that Content Network search results are included.

Too, you must consider the fact that Google has a vested interest in making their numbers appear large – as primary users of the Google Keyword Tool are either current or potential Adwords customers.

Wordtracker, on the other hand, has no reason to inflate numbers. They simply provide a keyword research service.

Now, here’s one reason I’ve maintained my Wordtracker account for many years…

If you look back above at the results for “weight training routines”, you’ll see that Google reported “Not Enough Data”.

However, Wordtracker shows a daily count of 146 for the exact same phrase. (see screenshot below).

Google vs. Wordtracker Keyword Tool
Wordtracker Results fpr “weight training routines”

Furthermore, Google will only allow you to download 200 results, while Wordtracker allows up to 1000.

In overall terms, I prefer the Wordtracker interface which I think displays related results in a more intuitive manner and is faster to use. For example, the first 10 related keywords to “weight training” in Wordtracker were:

  1. bodybuilding
  2. exercise
  3. weight lifting
  4. strength training
  5. weight
  6. weightlifting
  7. training
  8. workouts
  9. fitness
  10. nutrition

You can click on any of those results and immediately get their Count and Predicted Count, whereas with Google, you have to type the word in again. Too, Google’s system logs you out after a short period of inactivity, and I usually find myself clicking on “Get Keyword Ideas” several times before the Captcha form comes up again.

Ultimately, I use both Google’s Keyword Tool and Wordtracker. I use Google for quick and dirty searching and Wordtracker for fine-tuning. To me, that “fine-tuning” is worth the price of maintaining a subscription year after year.

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Definitions

These definitions are taken directly from Google and Wordtracker.

Google

Google’s Global Monthly Search Volume shows the approximate average monthly number of search queries matching each keyword result. This statistic applies to searches performed on Google and the search network over a recent 12-month period. It includes traffic in all countries and languages and is specific to your selection from the Match Type drop-down menu. If we don’t have sufficient data for a particular keyword, you’ll see not enough data.

Broad Match – This is the default option. If you include general keyword or keyword phrases (such as tennis shoes) in your keyword list, your ads may appear when users search for tennis and shoes, in any order, and possibly along with other terms. For example, your ad may appear for the queries buy tennis shoes and tennis sneakers but not tennis players. Your ads may also be displayed on relevant variations of your keyword phrases and plurals, as well as some related keywords and phrases via our expanded keyword matching technology.

Wordtracker

Count shows the number of times a particular keyword has appeared in our database.

E.g. Our database currently holds 312,095,827 words. A count of 147 tells us that this particular word has appeared 147 times in (this is over 160 days).

Our keywords are taken from major metacrawlers (a service that queries all the main search engines simultaneously).

Our main sources are Metacrawler and Dogpile, the two largest Metacrawlers on the net. Metacrawlers have the major advantage of matching the search profile of the search engines very closely. But are not subject to the same kind of skew from software robots that continually check web site and pay per bid positions.

Predicted Count is the maximum total predicted traffic for all of the major search engines/pay per bids and directories today.


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Comments

  1. says

    Ros,

    Thank you for clearing up the differences between these two services. I can totally understand why I need to add the WordTracker tool to my arsenal.
    Specifically, getting data beyond the “not enough data” responses it critical for niche content and offers.

    Jeff

  2. says

    Rosalind wrote:”Google’s system logs you out after a short period of inactivity, and I usually find myself clicking on “Get Keyword Ideas” several times before the Captcha form comes up again.”

    If you reload the page, you will get the captcha screen and lately your search request remains intact as well, but I still copy it to be safe. Hope this saves you some time. => Dave

  3. says

    Yeah, it’s really helpful if you are going to build a site and optimize for long tail keywords… lots of ideas for content.

    However, I’d say that WT data is not proportionally correct and you can’t rely on it to organize your website’s informational architecture.

    Mix and match!

  4. says

    Its true Google never explores it data to any one, it hides it so that competitors will not be able to manipulate. It is very true on the part of Google to so.

  5. says

    Thank you for the comparison. I am a little unclear as to what “fine-tuning” might entail other than Wordtracker’s possible reporting of smaller search numbers and default exact match search, but certainly a second witness to Google search evidence would give one more confidence in the numbers.

  6. says

    Ahh… That is one of my favorite questions as nobody really knows. I think your answer is great Rosalind and it is definitely one of the best ones I’ve read so far.

    Personally I just stick to one of them to, achieve ranking and then I’ll see how correct or incorrect the figures were. By going for high search volume terms you’ll still get a load of traffic.

  7. says

    As an SEO Specialist, I am disgruntled to find competitors using the Keyword Tool to provide data to their clients. It is difficult to compete when the numbers Google returns is 5x the numbers of Wordtracker.

    I have actually ran a personal test and ranked 2nd on google for a keyword that supposedly gets 22,000 searches a month (from Google Keyword Tool) but in reality is only receiving about 50 a month.

    • says

      I have seen this kind of spread between the ‘broad’ match results and the [exact] match results on the Google tool. My dashboard results are almost always higher than the exact match results would predict. The 30-50% of the web not using Google can make a big difference.

  8. Internet marketing ebooks says

    A very interesting post, it’s pretty much what I’ve figured out myself and what most people who know something about this issue say.

    Unfortunately, there is no ultimate precise and correct tool, therefore SEO and PPC campaigns can always fail in certain situations when numbers end up being hugely incorrect.

  9. says

    I was also in search of difference between google and word track statistics.

    Thanks a lot for clearing this difference in my mind.

    Waiting for new posts

  10. Kevin says

    I just don’t like the fact that Wordtracker leaves out 99% of searches on the web. How many of you use Dogpile and Metacrawler? I know I don’t. So think of all the thing’s you’ve searched for in Google, Yahoo, etc over the last 90 days. According to Wordtracker, your searches don’t exist.

    However, the good thing about Wordtracker is: if it says it is a highly searched keyword, you can bet it is a pure result.

    • jad says

      Kevin –
      “… I just don’t like the fact that Wordtracker leaves out 99% of searches on the web. How many of you use Dogpile and Metacrawler? I know I don’t. So think of all the thing’s you’ve searched for in Google, Yahoo, etc over the last 90 days. According to Wordtracker, your searches don’t exist…”

      Is this right? WT completely ignores Google searches – about 80% of all UK searches ??
      I knew about the WT 1% only, which always intrigued me as a USP …”We Ignore 99% Of The Data!!”
      J

    • says

      Hello Jad,

      Nope, that’s not right. Kevin doesn’t understand what Metacrawler actually is and does…

      MetaCrawler is a metasearch engine that blends the top web search results from Google, Yahoo!, Bing (formerly Live Search), Ask.com, About.com, MIVA, LookSmart and other popular search engines. MetaCrawler also provides users the option to search for images, video, news, yellow pages and white pages.

      Hope that helps!

      Cheers,
      Ros

  11. says

    It is better to use google keyword tool. Because it will give your more accurate estimate then word tracker.

    Word tracker looks for all SE of world while google is showing you its own results.

  12. says

    Very insightful article. There tends to be a lot of confusion as to what the Wordtracker search data represents (i.e. daily, monthly,). And it has been tough getting Wordtracker to explain this in plain english. Thank you for the great article.

  13. says

    Thanks for this info! I am doing a good bit of keyword research using both tools. I do find Google Keywords to be a quick and easy to find the general number I’m looking for. I haven’t gotten the hang of wordtracker so much but I do find it useful, as you’ve mentioned, in locating those daily results that Google doesn’t turn up.

  14. ABrient says

    How do you compare Wordtracker to Google Keyword Tool when the screen shot taken from Wordtracker states: “Take from all Dogpile & Metacrawler queries over the last 160 days.” Doesn’t say Google in that. So it’s almost like this post has no value now. You compare Google Keyword Tool to a service that doesn’t even mention Google as part of its results. Again I’m just going on what I saw in your screen shot above for Wordtracker. Wasted my time reading this.

  15. says

    Thanks for this posting.

    Google provides quantitative data while WordTracker provides qualitative data.

    WordTracker provides niche keywords list. To come-up this list it requires more efforts in Google keywords tool.

    Many keywords are not available in WordTracker but available in Google keywords.

  16. hanna says

    Greetings from Korea. Thank you for the great post!
    While my intention was to test out related keywords for blogging seo in Korean with google Korea, I wanted to dedicate a blog for Koreans to understand wordtracker as well for those interested in expanding their small business abroad.
    I will keep coming back here!

  17. Ruth says

    I am doing a trial of Wordtracker, and it says that the wordtracker results are Yearly (not daily) … has this changed? Because the keywords I am looking at are way different in outcome.

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