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5 Features I Wish the Google Adwords Keyword Tool Had

Kevin Phelps

The Google Adwords Keyword Tool is a great resource for not only Pay Per Click , but also SEO. If you are doing any sort of keyword research, you need to start with this tool, but make sure you know how to use it. With this tool, you can get a good idea of the search volume for any given keyword, its PPC competitiveness, search volume across the globe or in a particular country and many other helpful features. For many, this keyword tool will get the job, done but it’s far from perfect. Here are my five features that I wish the Google Adwords Keyword Tool had.

1. Show Search Volume Based on City/State Level, Not Just Country Level

Having data in a specific geographic location is key for locally focused businesses. Currently, the only numbers we have to work with are geographically focused keywords (E.g. “Portland Electrician”), but how many people in Portland are simply typing in “Electrician” and relying on Google to automatically detect their IP location and serve them local companies? My guess is that service-industry keywords without a geographic location get searched far more than we realize.

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There is one solution to this problem; PPC. Targeting specific cities or regions within your Adwords account with industry keywords like “Electrician” can give a good idea of the local searches based on the impressions that keyword gets.

Until Google changes this, the only thing we have to work from is possible PPC data and assumptions. For the most part, I think it’s safe to assume that the majority of the traffic is actually searching with a geographic variable within the keyword (E.g. “Portland Electrician”).

2. Differentiate Search Volume Between Web, Image, Places, Video and Product Search

The search volume number for any given keyword on Google’s Keyword Tool is an aggregate of all searches that are done on This presents a unique problem for many marketers because the keyword that they may go after could have several different searcher intents.

For example, if I wanted to rank for the keyword “Mustang Exhaust” because I’m looking to sell more products, I want to know how many searchers are searching the web, image, places, video and product search route.

Because Google doesn’t report the different search avenues, the 1,300 exact searches for “Mustang Exhaust” are getting mixed up among people looking to buy or research exhausts, find sound clips on YouTube, locate a local dealer for installation or people just wanting images of a product. Knowing which channels get the most search volume would help to know where to spend your marketing dollars, whether it’s for SEO, video production and optimization, uploading a Google product feed or setting up a Google Places page (should you be local).

3. Closely Related Search Terms Box is Too Black and White

When you research keywords, you can either have Google pull every possible related keyword or you can get keywords that are closely related to your typed in keyword with the check box shown below.

This is too black and white, there needs to be some middle ground. I would love if checking that box kept the results closely related but not so close that it ignores other very important keywords.

For example, searching for USB Drive only pulls keywords that include that term within the phrase. What about “thumb drives”, “flash drives” and the many variations in between? Using closely related synonyms would prevent any main keywords from falling through the cracks.

4. PPC Competition Bar Needs Some Sort of Basis

Even though this is a PPC tool, it’s still helpful for SEO because it’s supposed to determine the amount of PPC competition for a given keyword. You can generally get an indication of how hard a keyword will be to rank for, based on the amount of business bidding for a keyword. But this Adwords feature is perhaps the most misleading tool Google has made.

The keyword “home mortgage refinance” is claiming a medium competition level yet there is a full page of ads back to the fourth page in the results pages. I’m no PPC expert, but this competition indicator is hardly accurate. Also, what is Google even looking at to determine the competitiveness of a keyword? I can’t find anything explaining the process or formula.

5. Select Target Keywords to Track with Google Program or Third Party Website

Now I really am asking for the world from Google. Selecting keywords within their Adwords Keyword Tool and tracking my sites’ rankings through a new Google service or third party website would be an absolute dream, assuming the data is accurate.

I know what you’re thinking: Why would Google spend millions developing a tool that doesn’t provide them anything in return? My answer: because that’s what Google does with the most of their products. Look at Google Docs, Google Analytics, Webmaster Tools, Gmail and Voice, they’re all meant to grab Internet users and lock us into their network of services in hopes that we use their search engine. Bing, Yahoo and Ask hardly have the level of free services that Google does and they consequently share a pathetic 30 percent of the market. Coincidence?

What do you think? Are these five flaws the biggest with the Adwords Tool? Granted, nothing is perfect, but with enough users suggesting a change with their tool, my hopes are that Google may make a change. Share your thoughts, opinions and suggestions below!


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