Google always insists that SEO marketers should focus more on user needs rather than keywords. And while that’s true, search is still highly dependent on keywords and your site and how it ranks in specific search queries.
I would say that it’s not that keywords are less important now, it’s just that the nature of keyword research has changed.
Whereas before, you could get away with very simple logic like I sell books so I should target the search query “buys books”, now it’s more complicated. Now you need to understand the needs of the users to choose the right keyword for optimization. But still, how do you understand user needs if you don’t look at keyword data and search volumes?
This means that the rise in popularity of a single keyword, as reflected by search volume data, can inform your entire content and even product development strategy. And this suggests that the right keyword research tool can be the best investment you make for your business.
Features of the keyword tool that define its value
Of course, you have several native Google tools that can help you find more accurate keyword statistics. After all, who else but Google knows how many monthly searches are generated for each query?
But there is a catch.
Google Search Console, which is probably the first tool that comes to mind when you think of keyword intel, only shows you data for keywords you actually rank for. This means that it’s not a great solution for keyword research on its own, and it’s not at all useful for any kind of competitive analysis. Also, you won’t get actual statistics for keyword/search volume; you see impressions that reflect how many times your URL’s rank for that keyword was viewed.
Then there is the Google Keyword Planner (GKP). It’s a free tool, it has keyword search volume data, and it’s native to Google. what’s not to like, right? But… unfortunately, it’s not perfect either.
The free version of GKP only shows the ranges, which is already bad news because you can’t make any actionable assumptions for your SEO strategy based on it. You can get some search volume numbers, but only if you’re willing to run an ad campaign. So if you need to analyze 500 keywords, which is really a minimum number to help you pick just a few search queries that you really need to target, you have to spend a lot of dollars just to get intelligence.
Now, what is the solution? Well, dozens of tools and solutions have thought of that for you by developing keyword tools that take care of the entire keyword analysis process.
But while they may all seem to offer similar solutions, the difference lies in the quality and size of the data.
So, this is what we will discuss today to help you choose the most reliable and accurate tool for arguably one of the most important aspects of SEO, keyword research.
There are several factors that determine the quality of a keyword research tool.
- Keyword database size
- Keyword data coverage
- Accuracy of search volume statistics
Keyword database size is an obvious feature to consider; the more keywords in it, the more research you can do. This is especially important for those working in very niche industries, because while the most popular keywords will show up in all tools’ databases, the least popular specific keywords may not.
When it comes to keyword data coverage, this is where many solutions differ. Although the tool may report an unusually large database, it may consist of either irrelevant or duplicate keywords. This means that data for a large range of keywords may simply be missing, while overall statistics tell a different story. So if you want to make sure your tool has the biggest coverage, you need to understand how many keywords don’t have any data to display.
And finally, we come to the accuracy of search volume statistics. This is probably the most important factor in choosing one keyword tool over another.
While the tool may report having billions if not trillions of keywords in its database, it’s not that difficult considering they may have outdated (no longer relevant) keywords and other gimmicks to help just show impressive statistics. the quality of their data. keywords are most important.
After all, you’re not looking for keywords just to see keywords, you’re looking for them because you want to discover their search volumes and understand how popular that keyword is and decide if it’s worth the effort to optimize for it.
Choosing the Best Keyword Research Tool: A Data-Driven Approach
I’ve already mentioned once that Semrush has the largest keyword database on the market.
And according to his own Statistics: page that still remains. But as mentioned, the size of the database does not necessarily determine the quality.
That’s why I’d like to share one study that compared the most popular keyword research tools against each other in terms of accuracy for solving each major keyword.
Comparison of keyword tools. Google Keyword Planner vs. Semrush vs. Moz vs. Ahrefs vs. Mangools vs. Serpstat vs. Sistrix
As a primary reference, all analyzed data was compared to the most accurate source of keyword search volumes, Google Search Console. This methodology post explains why and how they chose the 10,000 keywords whose impressions can equal search volume statistics.
Evaluating the quality of search volume numbers
% of keywords that match Google Search Console numbers
The data above shows how each tool’s search volume statistics stack up against Google Search Console impressions. This is the best way to evaluate the quality of the data received from the instruments.
Semrush has the highest percentage of keywords that are closer to Google’s actual numbers, which means that when it comes to data accuracy, Semrush is the best solution.
Ahrefs is generally considered to be Semrush’s closest competitor, but when it comes to search volume data quality, it really falls behind.
With Semrush as the clear winner here, check out the graph below to see how it compares to the rest of the tools:
If we were to quantify the quality assessment, we could say that Semrush has twice the data quality of any other mainstream solution.
So, if you’re ready to unleash the full power of Semrush, you can get a 14-day free trial as a Semrush My Reader.
Data freshness assessment
However, the greatest value in data accuracy comes when the tool presents accurate data for the most recent keywords, or what are sometimes called trending keywords.
It’s one thing to reflect data close to real numbers for keywords that took years to analyze. But what about the search queries that are just becoming popular?
In terms of this “freshness”, Semrush wins again. And it’s extremely important, because one of the best ways to boost your SEO quickly is to rank for keywords that are just becoming trendy, as there’s usually less competition to compete against and a large number of search queries to capitalize on.
What about keyword data coverage?
Finally, we come to examine how many keywords have missing data in each solution.
% of keywords with missing data
The numbers don’t lie, so Semrush is once again in the lead. Although it failed to return 1.8% of the search queries for this study, there were significantly more “not found” keywords in other solutions.
Make your keyword tool selection based on your data
You might be wondering how Semrush wins in every aspect that affects our perception of keyword data quality.
It’s all about hard work, of course. And the folks at Semrush made notable improvements to their keyword data collection algos;
- Semrush’s data now comes from 5x more sources, translating directly into smarter machine learning capabilities.
- Their AI is now powered by several more algorithms through natural language processing (NLP) and anomaly detection.
Combined with strong anti-obsolescence features and the largest database of keywords (for example, US keyword coverage is now 98%), this makes Semrush truly the most powerful keyword research solution on the market.
I can say that at the end of the day it is up to you which word solution you choose. Because there are several other factors that you can consider: pricing, customer support, learning curve, etc. But when it comes to keyword research, the quality and quantity of data should determine your choice, and this is where Semrush has an unbeatable lead.
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