Google Keyword Tool – What Happened?

September 5th, 2008 by Nikki Kuhlman

Normally, if I’m going to talk about Google, I’m going to have pretty positive things to say. After all, nine times out of ten, when they do something, they do it right. When they do a new version, they improve on what they already have. They seem to really test things out in the real world of PPC management, and make my life as a PPC advertising account manager easier. Well today I’m blogging about something that’s the exception to the rule, something that’s not been an improvement. It’s the Google Keywords Tool…

For those who don’t know, the Google Keyword Tool is a tool for finding additional search terms that you might be missing in your account. (You can find it here: You put in a search term or even multiple terms, and Google spits PPC Managementout a list of additional keywords based around your search term, or are very similar. You can add your terms directly into one of your AdGroups, or export them to a spreadsheet or text file.

Well, lately the reliability and usefulness of the Google Keywords Tool has changed. For some reason, the Google Keyword Tool has taken a few steps backwards. It’s become harder to use, harder to find the information you want, and less reliable at giving me keywords quickly.

The majority of the time the first results you get are what Google calls “Additional keywords to consider.” Well, those additional keywords are usually one’s that I DON’T want to consider, that are too broad for my narrowly targeted AdGroups or just way off base, yet I have to scroll though a very large list, usually about 150 terms, to get to the ones I actually want, which is the section “Keywords related to term(s) entered.” And there’s no way to change which shows first, so you never know where you’re going to have to look. It’s very easy to overlook that “related terms” section.

Then there’s the issue of what you get for your results. There are many times when the results don’t seem to be complete. There’s another tool that we can use, and if we put in the exact same search term, we may get an additional 20, 50 or 100 terms that Google won’t or doesn’t report on. If we were to try the exact same search a little later, we might get different results. If we reverse the order of the words, or put a space in or remove a space from a search term, we might get something different, including terms that should have been in the original results. For example, I might put in a search for “adwords management” and get maybe 10 search terms in the related category (with another 174 in the “consider” terms and 15 in the “similar” terms). Another time, I might get 14 reported terms. If I were to do a search on “ad words management” I might get another five or six or ten terms that the first search didn’t turn up, including ones with “adwords management” that should have logically come up in the originial “adwords management” search. And because AdWords caps the results at around 150, you never get to see those terms Google might consider less important, even though they are more related to the search terms I started with.

Sometimes the “consider” terms might have something actually worth considering, but there’s so many terms that are usually so off the mark (in my example above there were terms like: make money, content management, click pay per tool, overture ppc, seo, keywords, earn money, pay per click marketing, etc). Buried in that stack was the term “adword management” – which to me makes more sense as a related term, considering the only difference is that it is missing an “s” off my original search term.

It just seems like Google has taken a step backwards in the Google tool – they’re watering down the more targeted keywords with all this unrelated mess, that it’s hard to use.

So here’s my Google KeyWords Tool wish list:

  1. Give me the Related Terms at the top of the list.
  2. Quit watering down the related and similar terms with terms that aren’t really that related or that similar.
  3. Include plurals as a rule in the Related Terms, instead of forcing me to do individual searches on it, or include a check box that allows me to include or exclude plurals from my results.
  4. Let me immediately default to Phrase Match or Exact Match results, instead of always defaulting to Broad, OR include a check box that allows me to include exact and phrase match terms in one spot, instead of having to switch between screens or select from the drop-downs.
  5. Allow me to add different keywords that I might find into different AdGroups. There is a function here which allows me to do it, but it’s a bit cumbersome. I might find terms that need to go in three or four different AdGroups – right now I can only do one at a time.
  6. The ability to filter “in” terms instead of only “out”. If I’m searching for “product 703”, I want all my results to have the number 703 in it.
  7. Be consistent on results, so I don’t have to do the same search several times in order to get all my results.
  8. Don’t give me different results if I’m within an AdGroup than if I’m using the external Keyword Tool.

So c’mon Google, please work your magic. I know you can get the Keyword Tool back to giving us relevant results.

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