Hey! Who Broke The Google Adwords Keyword Tool?

That’s what I said when I logged-into the Google Adwords Keyword Tool around the time that Google released Instant Search. Since I use the GAWKT daily I could pretty quickly see that something had changed. At first I thought it was the impact of Google Instant – for a moment I thought maybe the sky was falling! After pinging a few other SEO geeks I got to the bottom of it – Google had removed other search engines and returns only Google search volume…although we don’t really know for sure.

DotSauce wrote a great piece today about the changes to the Google Adwords Keyword Tool, Google Explains Sudden Drop in Global and Local Monthly Search Volume Data. They cite Google’s comment on the issue which I think is important to point-out, in its usual Google mystery-talk:

“Statistics in these columns are now based on Google.com search traffic only. Previously, they also included traffic from search partners.”

What does Google mean by “Search Partners” – the truth is we’re not really sure. If you know exactly who these partners were let me know! Otherwise I think we have another great Google mystery on our hands. However, at the same time, now we do have the most clean data to analyze Google’s search volume so there’s definitely a positive here.

Now for those that watch MorganLinton.tv I know you’ll probably want to know how my metrics have changed. Normally I look for domains with an exact match search volume between 1,000 – 10,000. However now 1,000 – 10,000 means something completely different so I’m back in my labs coming-up with a new formula.

No matter what really happened we now know that the Google Adwords Keyword Tool is only showing traffic from Google. While your favorite keyword may have taken a beating just remember it’s a whole new world now where 50,000 is as impressive as 500,000 was in some cases! To put things in perspective imagine if you went back in time to 1880 and bought a house, chances are it would be less than the price of a used car now, however that’s because the value of money has changed.

Traffic is money right? It’s Google’s currency, and for traffic hunters like me I have to quickly adapt and determine how to best use this new data! So don’t panic, your traffic isn’t gone, however now you know how much of your traffic came from Google, and how much came from their “partners” whoever they are.

P.S. Hello to all my European blog readers – this post is done with your Friday morning in mind. Since I know that I have readers all over the world I’m working hard to provide content and times that work for my entire audience!

{ 12 comments… add one }

  • Leonard Britt October 1, 2010, 12:27 am

    Who thinks Google dislikes domainers and domainer MFA minisites and dropped the GAKT numbers so as to clean up the web?

  • Arbel Arif October 1, 2010, 12:28 am

    Thank You My Friend…

  • Ed Keay-Smith October 1, 2010, 1:09 am

    Yes mate its FUBAR!

  • Daniel Lambert October 1, 2010, 3:04 am

    I’m guessing search partners include websites such as AOL who are are using Google to power their own search engine.

  • Attila October 1, 2010, 5:14 am

    Yeah, I kind of noticed recently their adwords tool may be a bit BS. I have a keyword ranked on googles first page. The keyword got 50k exact searches globally (before when they updated it) yet only 1,000 were clicking through each month. Now I know normally 30-60% (give or take) will click through whose located on the first page. After they updated it, it dropped to like 14k global. However getting less then 8% is still a little unusual…

  • Ken Stack October 1, 2010, 7:38 am

    Morgan Sir, I was also distressed to see a large reduction in exact match keyword results. I had dozens go from four figures to three figures in exact local match. There has been some discussion on this topic in the forums, including NamePros and WebMasterWorld, and even in the Google Adwords discussion forums. It was frustrating to develop an exact match product longtail and see it go from 8,100 exact local to 720 exact.

    In calling for support for my Adwords account, the same explanation you stated above was proffered. They also suggested I would have greater accuracy using their GATE tool instead of the GAKT, and that it would be better to estimate my advertising costs. The Google Adwords Traffic Estimator, GATE, is now accessible from the new Keywords Tool page.

    From what I have been able to discern from the various discussion forums and Google documentation, the old GAKT tool was showing search data for all searches they performed on behalf of other sites. Searching for Powered by Google (TM) shows they are supplying search engines for thousands of sites. Search sites they support include Shopping.com, AOL, college web sites, Go.com, Bizrate, Dogpile, Excite.com, etc.

    My preference would be the inclusion of data from all search partners, as this would provide a more accurate representation of interest in a keyword. As Google is not serving advertising on the search partner pages, however, and Adwords is a merchant program to sell ads, I understand the decision to limit search result totals to only those searches where their customer’s paid advertising appears. This does make the GAKT results less useful for determining site development potential.

  • cathy October 1, 2010, 8:34 am

    Yes, I think this also devalues all of the estibot appraisals. Each appraisal is comprised using the old data making them inaccurate today. Many domainers place a lot of value in estibot however the appraisals that are now produced are meaningless in my opinion. I think this is a problem that has not been discussed and should be addressed quickly.

  • CW October 1, 2010, 9:13 am

    Hi Morgan,

    I’ve always had pretty good luck using the “phrase” numbers. These have been especially helpful if you have a catalog of product type domains.

  • Abe October 2, 2010, 11:17 am

    It was just too easy, that is how they all start… “don’t be evil” at least during the beginning.

  • Abe Trader October 2, 2010, 11:18 am

    here goes an opportunity for a PAID service fill the vacuum.

  • ComputerWorkstationDesk.com October 2, 2010, 3:51 pm


    Your article explains a lot. I did notice that the numbers changed when I would submit my names to the keyword tool.

    Thanks for the info

  • Chris October 5, 2010, 9:07 pm

    We saw major drops also. We had one go from 210,000 to 880 from Monday to Monday. WTH?? My initial response was like yours – what’s broke? I still think it has something to do with Google Instant. I’ve read how they are computing those searches and I think a collegue hit the nail on the head when he said he thinks that Google isn’t computing the searches done correctly with the AJAX queries. Like if somebody starts typing and then hits the backspace, is it computed as a search? No. Yet they are serving results. Yet if you stay on a results page for longer than 3 seconds, it’s computed as a search. What if you click on something? Is that being added as a search? Who really knows??

    Regarding kw research. I’m with you. Anything over 1,000 searches is my baseline. The more the better if there’s not too much competition. But how will it shake out? Who knows… only time will tell. Very cliche I know, but true.


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