Why Google's New Keyword Tool Sucks for Local

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When Google released their new keyword tool, I was optimistic. Google tools are always awesome, right? Sadly, the latest tool release, the Google keyword tool, leaves one of the most important markets out in the cold: local search.

Google is Huge on Local

Geo targeting in AdWords and local maps listings for businesses are just a couple of the examples of products that Google has created entirely for the local market. Google loves local!

So imagine my surprise when I open up Google’s new keyword tool to run some local keywords and see that the new tool has flipped the opposite way – not only does it favor national keyterms, but it eschews geo qualifiers.

A Few Examples

Take, for instance, the keyword Utah home theater. When you used to search it on the old keyword tool, your results would recognize that the geo qualifier ‘Utah’ was necessary to the query, and it would only show you keywords with Utah in them. That made sense because if I’m searching for home theater systems in Utah, I’m not going to change my mind and decide that New York is also a perfectly good place to get a home theater system.

Now for that query, this is the output:

Google's new keyword tool

Notice how, of the 8 keywords included in this sample, only 3 of them have the geo qualifier ‘Utah’ in them? (Also note that two of them are duplicates.) Two out of eight ain’t bad – isn’t that how the song goes? It’s actually much lower because none of the next 50 contain the geo qualifier.

Don’t think that this was a fluke search – the keyword Utah home automation isn’t any better:

New keyword tool

At least here you can see that Google is taking the geo qualifier ‘Utah’ a bit more seriously, but look at the keywords it recommends. Home builders? New homes? It feels like we’re doing keyword research using the Google wonder wheel – not exactly the experience I’m looking for in a keyword tool.

Now I can understand that Google makes much more money off the national keywords so they obviously want to push people to bid on more competitive words. The conflict comes into play because Google also has an obligation to their searchers and advertisers to provide the most relevant ads. This tool may trick some locally-focused n00b into bidding nationally on a keyword like ‘smart home automation’, but they’re going to lose that customer when they see their month’s marketing budget fly out the window.

A Plea to Google

Google, I’m sure you have your reasons for switching over to the new tool. I also know we SEOs were doing a lot of complaining about the accuracy of the old tool’s numbers. The fact of the matter is that the new tool is awful at giving localized results. Either develop the new tool to the level of the old one, or give us the legacy tool for those who prefer it.



Google’s Keyword Tool Sucks PERIOD. Filling out their online form entitled “Product Survey” strongly shows leading questions such as: Feedback on the quality of output. In other words, they don’t want feedback about how limiting their tool is; they want feedback about the output.

Here’s an idea… why not just give ACTUAL searches from the prior month? Then we can put this stupid “How can we improve the tool” question to rest once and for all. Google – the next Microsoft.

AJ Wilcox

Totally agreed, Jarad. It’s just as hard to output an average or approximation than it is to output the actual number.

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