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6th September 2013 |  Written by

Alternatives To The Google Keyword Planner

Like many on-the-line marketeers I regularly avoid misguided hours of work by carrying out initial research beforehand. For this I use the Google Keyword Tool data in everything from prospective client proposals to 6 month plans and content marketing.

Oh No You Didn’t

I visited the sacred Keyword Tool one fine day only to find that despite my many desperate pathetic phone calls and hand delivered letters to Matt Cutts, Google had retired the tool from active service.

The replacement is the aptly named Keyword Planner (note the lack of the word “tool”). This is built to support the PPC’ers Google’s Adwords network and barely caters for organic SEO folks.

With Google’s new £650m London HQ to pay for, a move to support the paid side of their business is hardly a surprise. But where does the Keyword Planner fall short?

Session Data

You have the option to resume or start over from a previous session but this can cause issues with multiple users on the same account (like agencies). We ran a test on this and found that if one colleague presses “start over” it wipes the session another colleague was working on. Using your own Gmail account is probably the best way to avoid losing this session data.

Long Tail

The Keyword Planner tends to lean towards the head terms or generic short keywords versus giving you the long tail phrase keywords that may aid your content marketing planning.

Data Differences

If you used the old tool recently you will notice that the volume data has changed. This will be down to two main reasons:

  1. Exact Match – The Keyword Tool showed you broad match by default but let you specify your match type. The Keyword Planner has no match type data and will show search volumes are for exact match only.

  2. Devices – Google will now show you the searches for a keyword on all devices including “desktop and laptop computers, tablets, and mobile phones”. Compared to the Keyword Tool, which showed you average search volume for desktop and laptops by default but let you specify target devices.

google tool


So what alternatives are currently on offer to quench our thirst for simple keyword research data? Here are a number of options you can trial and experiment with:

FREE (in no particular order)

PAID (in no particular order)

If all else fails there is always the trusty

Feel free to chip in with your favourite keyword research tools in the comment section below.



Your Comments

  1. Hi Colin,

    I too lament the death of my favourite research tool. But your alternatives are great – although Google Trends I find can be a little bit unreliable sometimes and it’s hard to get data for more targeted stuff. Still, combined with Übersuggest or another ideas generator, you could get some good ballpark figures for search volume and get competing page numbers from “keyword” searches.

    There’s always a way through!

  2. Hi Ali
    Thanks for the comment and feedback.

  3. i was troubled when i found out that google keyword tool have disappeared from the net. But thanks man, your article is a true source of hope now. i will definitely try some keys there

  4. You have rightly pointed out that Google keyword planner is not designed for Organic SEO.

  5. My nerd fame has come to fruition. And you didn’t even drop us a link, you rascals. 🙂

  6. Hi Will
    Apologies for manipulating your image like that 😛 How did you come across it?

  7. I was gutted to lose Google’s keyword tool. To say the replacement is poor is an understatement. As well as the things you mention in this post, another issue I’ve found is that, when using the new keyword planner tool (in Chrome I might add), if you create more than 5 new Ad Groups, you then cannot see them displayed and therefore click to switch between them to add suggested keywords to your newly created Ad Groups. It doesn’t even work well for PPC’ers – precisely the market it is supposed to cater for!

    Out of your list, I’ve found Wordstream really useful, although it doesn’t give you search volumes unless you’re a paid subscriber (which I am) – and even then it is global rather than local. Wordstream has a good list of related keywords from it’s own database from which I’ve identified some keyword win where Google failed. This has made it worth the monthly subscription.

  8. Thanks for the feedback Tracey.

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