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Warning: Paid-for Keyword Research Tools are Garbage

Discussion in 'Keywords' started by malcsimm, Aug 24, 2013.

  1. #1
    I’d like to make new and intermediate marketers think hard – before they waste another penny on keyword research software. Get the benefit of my wasted dollars...

    Why do I think keyword research software is garbage?

    Here’s my reasoning (with thanks to philosophy).

    1. Push-button software is garbage. (Most people know this.)

    2. Keyword research software is push-button software. (Obviously true.)

    3. Therefore, keyword research software is garbage. (QED – “quod est demonstrandum” – yes, I speak French :) )

    How Keyword Software Marketers Screw You

    So, is my assertion correct – that keyword research software vendors are taking advantage of unsophisticated marketers and newbies? I think so - but why not decide for yourself?

    Let’s look at a few sales pages as on August 24th 2013 – I have gone to the first three I thought of and looked at their sales pages.

    Market Samurai: Download Your FREE Copy of Market Samurai and Laser-Target High-Traffic, High-Profit, Low-Competition Markets With Devastating Accuracy

    Micro Niche Finder: "Discover how to uncover the hot niche markets everyone else is missing by a mile" ...and no, you don't need any prior experience or expertise. The truth is, if you can follow directions, then you can achieve real results.

    Wordtracker: Reveal high-performing keywords in minutes.

    Anyone who has experienced a big bullshit product launch will recognise these type of claims - designed to hit a newbie’s hot buttons. Exaggeration sells. The nice word is: “hyperbole”. The not-so-nice word: bullshit.

    These sellers are aiming to appeal to the huge majority of internet marketers – “push button results seekers” - to hit their wallets as hard as possible.

    My contention is, paid keyword research software might be of value to 1% of marketers who REALLY know what they’re doing. But the huge majority of marketers will be wasting their money.


    My Wasted Dollars Paid for Keyword Research Software


    I have paid hundreds of dollars for keyword research software over the years – Nichebot, Keyword Discovery, Wordtracker, Keyword Blueprint, Market Samurai, Micro Niche Finder, etc – and now I never use any of them.

    Why?

    - The “number of searches” figures given are inaccurate. Actually, no-one knows what these figures actually are – all are estimates. Also, Google hides many of the searches it knows about – such as questions people are asking, and many or most of the long-tail keywords. Most keyword research software pulls Google data, so they are similarly inaccurate.

    - The “competition” figures given are next to useless. In Google’s case (the Google Keyword Planner) these competition figures are for the guidance of Adwords advertisers. Their value for the average website builder wanting to rank is low to zero. You can happily ignore them. And as for the “competition figures” offered by other KW tools are highly questionable too. When they try to get clever and produce “KEIs” or pretty “red/orange/green” highlighted keywords etc they are traveling into bullshit territory. After all, they are calculating with their dodgy “competition” figures into their roughly estimated traffic figures – well, you see where I am going. Yes, they are dividing or multiplying crap with crap. Wordtracker is particularly hilarious in this respect, taking refinements of the KEI to a new level of bullshit. LOL. OK, it’s true that if you have all hard-to-beat sites in the top ten it’s going to be harder to rank – but you don’t need an idiot tool to tell you that, do you? You just need to look at the results yourself.

    I Do my Keyword Research for Free.

    I suggest you do your keyword research for no cost. I explain exactly “how to keyword research for free” here.

    Three Steps to Find Good Keywords

    My way of doing keyword research is a 3-step approach. First, brainstorm your “seed” keywords. These are the general topics of your sites. So, if you have a camping site, your seed keywords might include:

    - Tents
    - Sleeping bags
    - Camping gear
    - etc

    Say you get ten or so of these. That’s about right.

    Second, you use a free tool - Google Keyword Planner (previously Google keyword tool external) - to expand each seed keywords into possible keyword phrases you might rank for.

    As alluded to above, when using this tool, ignore the supposed "competition" figures.

    Download all the suggestions (up to 800) into a spreadsheet and run down the list, marking off the ones you like the look of – the ones you think you might like to rank for. I sort the list by “estimated search figures” because, although they are not accurate they are comparable between each other. So I’ll be looking at the “high number of searches” KW first. When I’ve got enough KW phrases to search for – maybe 20-30 – I stop for now.

    Thirdly is the important step – and the step that most people don’t do. You actually check with your own eyes to see who is putting any sort of half-assed effort into ranking for each keyword phrase.

    Google to the Rescue

    How do you tell this? It’s pretty simple if you use Google special search operators: “allintitle” and “allinanchor”.

    Allintitle tells you who has your possible KW in their Title tag.

    Allinanchor tells you who has backlinks with the KW in the anchor text.

    If Google top ten for these 2 searches contains little overlap – you have a good chance of ranking. Why? Because it shows that not even the BASICS of SEO have been done for those pages using the KW you are testing for.

    So someone who is slightly better than a complete newbie – this could be you! - can easily be a step ahead.

    How to Use This Information

    How? (If I have been clear so far you will know the answer.) Simply by putting your KW in the page meta title tag: and getting a few backlinks to your page with the KW in the anchor text.

    No – put Scrapebox down lol! Go and put a few nice, helpful links on forums/high traffic blogs/social media - Facebook, Twitter/question and answer sites – Quora, Yahoo Answers/ Reddit if you dare (just don’t be a dick and you’ll be fine) – and link back using your KW as part of the anchor text.

    Do other on-site-SEO stuff too - get your KW in a few heading, sprinkled through your copy (especially first and last para), in any alt tags for images, in a url on the page and in bold and/or italic somewhere. But this is pretty easy to do (don't ignore it).
    (For how to do onsite SEO - see page 20 of this great free guide from the folks at Moz.)

    Keyword Research Push Button Software is Mainly Cr*p

    I don’t want to appear arrogant: but, after using many keyword research tools for years, I think they are pulling the wool over our eyes.

    What extra value to they really provide over my free keyword research tool – apart from confusing us with excessive – and useless - information?

    It took me a week to make and edit this video. I know – it was too long! But I wanted it to contain zero fluff and so not waster anyone’s time. Please check it out let me know what you think of my method and if you’ve got any suggestions for improvement.

    Malc
    malcsimm, Aug 24, 2013 IP
    mrgoe and Helge Sverre like this.
  2. Language Master

    Language Master Greenhorn

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    #2
    Thank you for sharing your story, that's why I never paid for such software :D
    Language Master, Aug 24, 2013 IP
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  3. malcsimm

    malcsimm Well-Known Member

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    #3
    Wise person LOL!

    Cheers, Malc
    malcsimm, Aug 25, 2013 IP
  4. LustForJoy

    LustForJoy Active Member

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    #4
    Dear Malc, thanks for sharing this valuable information with us. I agree with you when it comes to the poor results of paid keyword tools. According to my experience, too, they really dont perform well. I am convinced that the reasons for most poor keyword research can be found in the fact that most marketers rely on the statistics of the Google Keyword Tool - either directly or indirectly via Market Samurai, Niche Finder or the like...

    But, one should be aware of the fact that the Google Keyword Tool displays all of its information based on "old" data and historic patterns. So, if it shows you a seemingly high potential keyword, it could probably be already too late to optimize for this keyword as the traffic wave is already over.

    Have you ever thought about how Google calculates its results for keywords?

    As far as I know, it extracts the number of searches for a keyword since it was first searched on Google till today. It then divides the total number of searches by the number of months that have passed since then.

    Do you really think that this will reveal a reliable prediction of traffic for a keyword in the present or future?

    I for my part stopped to rely on this kind of figures.

    I am focusing on the following tools/services instead:
    • Google Suggest
    • Google Trends
    • Alexa Hot Searches
    • Alexa Hot Products
    • Amazon Movers and Shakers
    • Amazon Hot New Releases
    All the best for your keyword research! There are still nuggets to be found out there :)
    LustForJoy, Aug 26, 2013 IP
    malcsimm likes this.
  5. malcsimm

    malcsimm Well-Known Member

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    #5
    Hi LustforJoy -
    Those tools and services will certainly give you more up-to-date, current information about what people are looking for right now.

    And Google Keywords Planner certainly won't be as up-to-date as they are.

    Where G K P is helpful is in helping new brainstorm for additional seed keywords; and then when you have got the seed keywords it helps you brainstorm for possible keyword phrases to rank for. Then you can add on your "keyword modifiers" to these phrases to come up with possible phrases you can rank for. It's quick and dirty!

    But I like looking at Google trends too, which is a great way to see the relative popularity of different keyword phrases.

    As for Alexa and Amazon this largely depends on what your marketing approaches. If you are selling consumer products, for example, these will be extremely useful as these are more likely to follow fashions and also may be seasonal.

    Thanks for your thoughts.

    Malc
    malcsimm, Aug 27, 2013 IP
  6. Helge Sverre

    Helge Sverre Well-Known Member Affiliate Manager

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    #6
    Wish I knew this before i shelled out money on "Keyword blaze pro" lol.
    Great tutorial mate!
    Helge Sverre, Aug 27, 2013 IP
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  7. malcsimm

    malcsimm Well-Known Member

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    #7
    Hi Helge -yeah, we all live and learn! lol

    Glad you liked the tutorial. It's cost me a lot of money to learn that stuff so it's nice to share! (Even if a tad late for you mate.)

    Check out my video I link to and let me know if you have any comments or suggestions. Always glad to chat :)

    Malc
    malcsimm, Aug 27, 2013 IP
  8. Fletchov

    Fletchov Peon

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    #8
    I used keyword discovery for a while and it was good at first but it seemed with updates changes to traffic levels they became so lazy and like you say started to give out incorrect data. That's the thing with SEO nowadays hey, no longer can software, tools and so on can be relied upon to help us cut corners and make things much easier you have to be much smarter as an SEO to get see the benefits from G!
    Fletchov, Aug 29, 2013 IP
    malcsimm likes this.
  9. malcsimm

    malcsimm Well-Known Member

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    #9
    Hey Fletchov - I think you speak the truth about cutting corners.

    A lot of pple here on DP seem focussed on cutting corners. I tried cutting corners for years: and it did me no good. I think there's a lot to be said for learning how to do the stuff (including KW research) the proper way then, once you have mastered that, cut corners later. When you have a bit of wisdom.

    Cutting corners by iteself doesn't often work.

    Best to get out there, post quality posts about what you know about, and interact with people on social networks to get traction.

    Once you do that, you realise how sh*t the spammy methods look. And how no-one trusts them.

    Malc :)
    malcsimm, Aug 29, 2013 IP
  10. Fletchov

    Fletchov Peon

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    #10
    John Cooper re tweeted a quite cool link talking about how bigger sites are easier to rank as you can hide spam! He was saying the bigger the site was in terms of how many pages of content etc you had on it then in theory you could start to cut the corners and get away with it. But like you say I think Google will always find a way to hit the 'black hatters' of this world.
    Fletchov, Aug 30, 2013 IP
  11. khemraj

    khemraj Well-Known Member

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    #11
    Thanks for sharing your experience. Saved my life, I was about to spend some $100 on one keyword tool. Thus far I've been using Google's free tool but someone recommended to go for paid tool. and you're right that no tool can give exact numbers. they're just estimations. Thanks again :)
    khemraj, Aug 30, 2013 IP
  12. malcsimm

    malcsimm Well-Known Member

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    #12
    Hi Khemraj - I am happy I saved someone $100! That makes it all worthwhile :)

    Let me know what you think of my free method when you have watched it. I think it beats any of the paid method I have spent 100s of $s on.

    Malc
    malcsimm, Aug 31, 2013 IP
  13. SERPpoint

    SERPpoint Active Member

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    #13
    In terms of researching keywords, Market Samurai is also based on Google Adwords Keyword tool....

    The thing is it makes the keyword research easy, fast as it has too many advanced features....
    SERPpoint, Sep 1, 2013 IP
  14. YMC

    YMC Well-Known Member

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    #14
    Before I start, I don't agree with the premise of dismissing tools because they provide relative results and not 100% true numbers; though I do question all of these KEI and other manufactured metrics. I don't really care if Google says a phrase gets 12,300 hits a month and in reality it gets more or less than that. I look at their results as a way to rank the phrases. If they say one gets 12,300 and another gets 8,000; I think it's safe to assume that one gets somewhere around 30% more hits than the other. Even in the #1 spot, you would never get 100% of the hits, so worrying about exact numbers and how accurate they are is a bit silly.

    Anyway, it's a quiet Sunday afternoon and I thought why not play with this a bit and see how it goes.

    First a suggestion...Why not install something like https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/google-search-link-fix/ (it gets rid of the URL redirect nonsense and allows you to copy/paste the link without visiting the site first) I'm not sure which method is faster but by not visiting all of the sites it keeps my history cleaner and doesn't register hits for those sites with the keyword in question.

    I've played with a few phrases so far. The first thing I found interesting is some of the phrases I might have targeted due to low "competition" scores from Google are having 9 matches across allintitle and allinanchor. My question there...couldn't the 9 matches be consistently ranked well for allin but still be vulnerable i.e. the best of the worst sort of scenario?

    I'm also finding that doing a general search for the phrase in quotations does produce results fairly similar to the allin queries. However, removing the quotes often changes both the order and the sites listed.

    Granted my sampling is small and limited to a particular niche but I wonder what can be inferred about a phrase when the allin and general searches don't match or have half or fewer results that match.
    YMC, Sep 1, 2013 IP
  15. malcsimm

    malcsimm Well-Known Member

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    #15
    YMC - who said the SE results can be dismissed because the numbers they give our fiction? I agree, that the numbers given are useful for "relative" search results but that's all.

    And I agree with you that the KEI etc bullshit is - well, bullshit LOL.

    I don't really see the benefit of doing searches all in quotes. After all, searchers don't do that.

    The search method I am recommending for keywords is pretty basic really – could you be overthinking it?

    It is simply – hunt for the keyword phrases which someone hasn't already tried to rank for.

    This isn't meant to be perfection – it's just quick and dirty. But it is accurate. And hardly anybody will get off their backsides to do it – so if you do, you are ahead of the crowd.

    And that's the place to be :)

    What do you reckon?
    malcsimm, Sep 1, 2013 IP
  16. mrgoe

    mrgoe Member

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    #16
    You got my like, buddy. A well written, very detailed article. Great job. Nothing new for me, but it will help a lot of newbies that go through this.
    mrgoe, Sep 1, 2013 IP
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  17. YMC

    YMC Well-Known Member

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    #17
    I agree, most general web users use quotations in search. My point was that to get general search results that would seem to match the allin queries required the search to be done using quotes. I found that to be interesting. It might mean that some of the phrases you would normally deem hard to rank for may have more vulnerability than the allin queries would indicate.
    YMC, Sep 1, 2013 IP
  18. malcsimm

    malcsimm Well-Known Member

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    #18
    I think you have to emulate what normal searches are doing to get the best results. And I reckon they are not using quotes in general, so I don't use them. :)
    malcsimm, Sep 2, 2013 IP
  19. YMC

    YMC Well-Known Member

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    #19
    Eeek, I edited that last post so many times I dropped the not. What I meant to say is most searchers do not use quotations.

    My point is that by using quotations in the allin queries, it seems to provide results that are more in synch with general searches using quotations. Your video says to use quotes for the allin queries.

    Whenever I've done an allin query in the past, I too used quotes. I'm just wondering out loud if that somehow could be eliminating some otherwise targetable keywords because when doing the allin queries without the quotations, the results are quite different.
    YMC, Sep 2, 2013 IP
  20. malcsimm

    malcsimm Well-Known Member

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    #20
    Haha - I wondered if you'd left a "not" out there, YMC - but I didn't like to say so in case you thought I was being petty!

    I get you now. The point is that in the allin searchesI actually want to find out who has tried to optimise their pages for a particular keyword phrase so that's why I need to use the quotation marks. So if I'm trying to optimise for "best pop-up tent" , by using quotes in the allinanchor search it wouldn't pick up "a pop-up tent is best" in the anchor text. The same principle applies to the all in title. So that's why you need to use the quotes for the most accurate results.

    I am only interested in the results which have the precise keyword phrase in the right order and everything. I wouldn't say always to use quotation marks when doing allin searchesbut I do think it is always appropriate when you are using them for the keyword research method I describe.

    Thanks for persisting with your comment :)
    malcsimm, Sep 2, 2013 IP