Google’s Keywords Tool & Personalization

I’ve got two topics to cover today – Google’s keyword tool and Google’s personalized results. Let’s start with their keyword tool …

Google’s Keyword Tool (and my problems with it)

Today I’m not going to focus on the common question, “Is the data accurate?” It’s a good question but one which is likely, “Yes if you know how to read it.” It includes the search network so i you read it as “number of searches on Google.com” you’re wrong but if you read it as “accessing Google’s search results” you’re right. Nonetheless, that isn’t what I’m going to cover today – my issue today is what they’re displaying and what they’re not.

When one uses Google’s keyword tool one expects that the resulting data shouldn’t be tainted by Google’s personal bias towards products and/or services. But alas – it appears that either the results are biased or people’s search patterns are very different than what I would expect them to be and given that I’ve been working as an SEO for ten years – it’s doubtful that the search patterns are THAT different. Here’s an example of what I’m referring to so you can run your searches on this tool understanding that you might not see an accurate view of the world around you.

Top 20 results reported for “iphone developer” (I’ve trimmed some of the columns to make it fit this page):

Keywords related to term(s) entered
Keywords – Monthly
iphone developer – 74,000

Additional keywords to consider
Keywords – Monthly
developer – 3,350,000
resume developer – 40,500
programmer developer – 33,100
j2ee developer – 14,800
cv developer – 14,800
resumes developer – 4,400
technical developer – 4,400
developer engineer – 3,600
consultant developer – 2,900
unix developer – 2,400
developer experience – 1,600
ipone developer – 73
aple developer – 46
aplle developer – 36

Really? One of their top phrases is ipone developer and the are no additional searches at all that include the keywords iphone and developer? Oh wait – if I search “iphone app developer” it shows 3,600 estimated monthly searches so why didn’t it appear in the above search?

Now let’s look at the results for “android developer”. In this case we don’t even have to look at the “Additional keywords to consider” – there are plenty of results. They are:

android developer – 12,100
android development – 12,100
android developers – 3,600
android application development – 2,400
android developer challenge – 2,400
guide to android development – 1,900
android developer phone – 1,600
the busy coder’s guide to android development – 1,600
professional android application development – 1,300
google android development – 480
android developer g1 – 390
android development phone – 390
android software development – 390
android game development – 320
android development download – 260
development for android – 260
android developer challenge ii – 210
android developer forum – 210
android developer forum – 210
android mobile development – 210

And the list goes on from there. Wow – the android sure is popular compared to the iPhone. ;)

Another “curiosity” here is that the numbers noted above are broad match. If we go to Exact for “iphone developer” the number drops from 74,000 to 14,800. So there definitely are other searches in there – they’re just not being displayed. Hmmmmmmm.

I’ll leave the reasoning there for others to work out.

Now onto Personalization …

As many of you have noticed, Google is tracking you with cookies and providing personalized results – even when you’re not logged in. I’ve got to commend Google on this one. From a user standpoint it’s another slam dunk in that they’re providing a better search experience however from and SEO’s standpoint – it’s a nightmare as we’re always searching and augmenting our results and so we often don’t see what other do. To avoid this you can block cookies from Google but you’ll have issues with Google services such as Blogger and every their keywords tool.

I got an interesting email from the developers of a Firefox extension called Google Camo that stops personalized results but seems to allow other cookies so Google’s various services work. I’m using it right now and the machine is working great so thanks to the developers. You can read more about it and download the add on at http://www.iexposure.com/googlecamo.

Happy searching. :)