Google Keyword Tool Replacements

Google has removed access for its Keyword Tool that was a part of its AdWords platform. So now what do you do?

With Keyword Planner, we’ve combined the functionality of Keyword Tool and Traffic Estimator to make it easier to plan search campaigns. That’s why Keyword Tool is no longer available. You can use Keyword Planner to find new keyword and ad group ideas, get performance estimates for them to find the bid and budget that are right for you, and then add them to your campaigns. We’ve also added several new features with Keyword Planner.

If you’ve done anything with keyword research for search campaigns, you are probably well aware that this isn’t too much of a bad thing (a la Google killing Reader) as Google is replacing Keyword Tool with Keyword Planner. The trick is that you have to sign in to your AdWords account to have access to the Keyword Planner. Again, that’s not a big hassle for anyone who has already done even the beginnings of a search campaign.

However, the removal of Keyword Tool has sparked a couple of interesting conversations on Twitter and in email today for me. Mostly, industry friends are using this as a chance to trade notes on their favorite keyword research tools beyond Google’s offerings.

I have my own personal favorites but let’s look at a few other suggestions.

For example, Bill Hartzer points to Bing Ads Intelligence, SEMrush and the veritable Keyword Discovery tool. All three are good tools but in my opinion SEMrush stands out here. Bing Ads Intelligence is definitely a nifty tool. However, it’s an .exe download that isn’t compatible with Mac OSX (yet). As a recently re-converted Windows user I do use Excel for keyword research, so BAI works well for me. However, I find that I do so much of my research and work in the browser that it’s one of those tools I just don’t use that often. Keyword Discovery is good at what it does, but I haven’t spent enough time there lately to have much of an opinion. In its heyday it did provide good insight. There are certainly lots of other great tools out there, so feel free to add your suggestions in the comments if you have any favorites.

For me the linchpin of keyword research at the moment is a blend of Google’s own Keyword Planner and SEMrush (in conjunction with WordTracker). From there, I use Moz’s Keyword Difficulty Tool (subscription req’d but there’s a free trial). Then I top all of that off with a version of Seer’s Keyword Research Tool (a handy Google template they’ve created) that I’ve forked and made very custom for my own needs. I add in some extra variables like my own keyword difficulty ranking formula and that’s my finished product (usually in a set of Excel sheets).

It’s a convoluted system in an age when something like keyword research can (and maybe) should be drop dead easy to perform. Many of the agencies who I work with that focus on just social media like to poke fun at my setup and brag about how easy it is to do similar keyword or demographic buying on Facebook or Twitter. Nevertheless, I enjoy getting my hands dirty and having to do keyword research much like an archaeologist might work in a complicated Tell going cm by cm through the dirt. It’s slower than Indiana Jones style archaeology, but the results are usually better.

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