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New Tools for Keyword Research

For years, search marketers had few choices for keyword research tools. Wordtracker was the professional’s choice, with those on lower budgets using free tools from Yahoo! and Google. But in the last few months, the keyword world has opened up, welcoming Trellian’s Keyword Discovery and Hitwise Keyword Intelligence to the party.


Many of you know the drawbacks of the traditional crop of tools. Yahoo! designed its keyword selector for paid search, so it ignores singular and plural—which is important for organic search marketers. Google’s Suggestion Tool has an even bigger drawback—it does not show the number of queries for each keyword. Wordtracker is a much more full-function tool, but it supports English-language keywords only. The market is ready for a more advanced tool, but have Trellian or Hitwise brought one to us?
Trellian, the maker of SEO Toolkit and other search tools, now offers Keyword Discovery, which has quickly become the biggest competitor to Wordtracker. Keyword Discovery takes a different approach from Wordtracker, which uses metasearch engines for its data. Keyword Discovery uses data from 170 search engines from around the world, sometimes employing search logs provided directly by the engines, but often “sampling” the referral logs of sites receiving traffic from search engines. It’s not known exactly what sites are being sampled, so some bias in the sample is possible here. Still, Wordtracker does not claim to use Google and Yahoo! data in its analysis—Trellian does.
Like Wordtracker, Keyword Discovery offers a list of keywords related to the one you’ve entered, including counts of each keyword. Unlike other tools, Keyword Discovery provides suggestions for misspelled keywords related to yours, and offers 12 months of data that allows you to see seasonal trends. It’s hard to judge the value of the data when it’s unknown where it comes from, but Keyword Discovery does offer new features you can’t get anywhere else.
Trellian offers two versions of Keyword Discovery, a standard edition (limited to 1,000 results per keyword) and an enterprise edition (offering up to 10,000 keyword results). Both editions are offered with monthly or yearly pricing as low as $390 annually.
Hitwise, a leading supplier of Web market intelligence, has begun to use its Web visitor data to analyze search keywords, even providing country-specific information. Alone among these tools, the Hitwise data collection technique ensures that the keywords shown were successful searches—that they resulted in a searcher actually visiting a Web site. Searches with no results or no clicks (including rank checking searches) are thus excluded from the data. Like each of these tools, it’s hard to judge whether Hitwise’s data sample is better than others’—it may skew to more popular queries.
Hitwise offers a basic version ($900 yearly) limited to 100 variations per keyword, while the 1,000-variation version weighs in at $1900 each year. Both prices are for just one geographic market, but at least Hitwise does offer country-specific data, unlike most of its competitors.
Will Trellian or Hitwise challenge Wordtracker in popularity? Only time will tell, but Wordtracker has never felt more competition, which can be nothing but good news for search marketers hungry for better keyword tools.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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