It slipped relatively under the radar last month that Google has removed monthly data from its keyword tool. The Adwords Keyword Tool and its questionable numbers was already the bane of many SEO’s and PPC’s lives, and is now even less use. When little other data is available however, it’s often the last resort for search forecasting. Anyway, by chance, a couple of months before the functionality was removed I was doing some research into seasonal data sources, and which of Google’s was most accurate (Adwords Keyword Tool vs Insights). I picked a client of ours who is a very well known brand – and so has a large amount of brand searches (and clicks) every month. They therefore ranked #1 for that keyword in Google consistently for a 12 month period. Further to that, the brand has consistently had a PPC ad in #1. So, looking back at organic analytics data for that keyword over a 12 month period therefore provided a pretty robust picture of seasonality – i.e. seasonality was almost certainly the only big contributing factor to fluctuations in search traffic.
With that data to hand, I then plugged the keyword into Google Insights for the same time period and exported that data. I then did the same with the Google Adwords Keyword Tool (looking at the keyword’s exact match, local search volume) and exported the monthly data. By turning the analytics and Adwords Keyword Tool data into an index, it was then comparable to what Google Insights had provided me with. The results were as follows: As the above shows, Google Insights (red) correlates much more closely with actual traffic (green) than the data from the Adwords Keyword Tool (blue). It’s still by no means perfect, but not a bad starting point. While this analysis was based on 1 (albeit high volume) keyword, it does appear that monthly search data from Google’s Keyword Tool wasn’t actually that accurate anyway – certainly not as accurate as Google Insights, and maybe that’s why it was scrapped. In conclusion, be sure to do your own seasonality research, analysis and comparisons where possible but I’m certainly no longer fretting about the lack of monthly data from the Keyword Tool. While extrapolating monthly search volume estimates from seasonality data in Insights is more work, and still not 100%, at least I can carry out the research with a little more faith in the numbers than previously!