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 Google Keyword Tool [External vs Beta] – What’s the Difference?

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Join date : 2012-03-27

PostSubject: Google Keyword Tool [External vs Beta] – What’s the Difference?   Tue Apr 17, 2012 9:02 am

As Barry reported that morning at Search Engine Roundtable,

Google has a beta version of a new keyword tool available in the AdWords console. To get to it, login to adwords.google.com, go to a campaign, click on opportunities (if you have that tab), then on the left bar, click on keyword tool. A “beta” link should be available for you to click on in the top paragraph.

SEO’s all agree, the data from Google’s Keyword Tools and other sources should be taken with a pinch of salt, and I definitely agree with that too. Particularly in the US market, the Local, Global and Trend data sets just don’t feel right on certain keywords.

Has Google improved the situation in their new tool? We’ll let Google tell you about their fancy new interface and get right on with what’s important. The data.

Evaluating Google Keyword Tool Beta

From the start, let me tell you that this post does not conclude with a “this tool is right” kind of an answer. What it does do is compare new with old, and it’ll tell you where the differences are. With an understanding of those differences, you can make your own decision about which source makes more sense. I’ll give you my personal opinion on this, but, I’ve only reviewed one sector in the UK market, so the conclusion could be different in different geo locations.

For the record, I looked at local search data in the UK market, ignoring the global figures. All values relate to August 2009 comparing the data exported from the Beta tool. Variances are expressed as the percentage difference of the beta tool compared to the old tool.


1) The largest volume generating keyword in the dataset had a variance between the data sources of -242% – equating to a difference of more than 14 million searches per month. Beta significantly under reported at the head of the data, compared to the original tool.

2) With the largest volume generating term removed, Google beta continued to under report by as much as -230%, but did not over report until the 28th keyword, with a search volume of approximately 76,000 searches per month.

3) After the 28th keyword, beta begins to demonstrate a smaller negative and eventually frequently occuring positive variance further down the data set. An anomaly is visible at keyword 36, where beta strongly disagrees with the old keyword tool. From this point the variance favours the beta keyword tool, with more volume data available in the beta keyword set for long tail search queries.

4) Much further along the tail (a selection of 40 keywords with a volume between 140 and 1700 searches per month), the beta tool under reported compared to the original keyword tool data set, with the average variance around -35%:

5) More data (results with a volume figure) was acquired using the Beta Keyword tool in the same keyword list, making the Beta tool a better tool for long tail keyword data. Beta keyword tool has improved data exports with more rows of data and actual numbers for monthly trends, instead of those dreaded ratios.

6) Keyword Tool (External) and Keyword Tool (Current, signed in to adwords) are exactly the same.


It’s very difficult to draw a conclusion by simply comparing the two data sources. There are obvious differences, and my personal opinion is that the beta tool is a step up from what we have now. The data exported (as a CSV) contains more usable values from the outset, and there are powerful categorisation features available in the user interface.

Keyword data evaluation is not easy. My recommendation would be try this for yourself, pulling actual rankings and Google referral data from your analytics tool to benchmark the numbers. My theory is that you’ll see some consistency between organic CTR% on a more accurate dataset, by keyword category / group. That’s a different blog post though.
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