Google Keyword Tool Retires

Google Keyword Tool Retires
Google Keyword Tools Retires - 26 Aug 2013
Google Keyword Tools Retires - 26 Aug 2013
Google Keyword Tools Retires – 26 Aug 2013

Google Keyword Tool End of Life Marks the End of an Era in Free Keyword Research

Today is the sad day on which the Google Keyword Tool officially retired. For many Internet marketers, the Google Keyword Tool retirement is as traumatic as the Yahoo! Site Explorer end of life.

The following Tweet from Dan Leibson @DanLeibson sums up the sentiment of many in the industry for this sad passing of this free, publicly-available,  widely-used keyword research tool.

The retirement of the Google keyword tool should not come as a surprise to anybody as its sunset was initially announced when Google first Introducing Keyword Planner: combining the Keyword Tool and Traffic Estimator into One back on May 20, 2013, at which point, Google gave the Google Keyword Tool  life expectancy of 60 days which expired more than 30 days ago.

How Important a Role Does the Google Keyword Tool Play for Keyword Research?

As can be seen from the screen shot of the Google Keyword Planning Tool, exact match searches for the Google Keyword Tool topped 120,000 in May and July of 2013. Surely there are many other related searches for the keyword tool beyond this one such as free keyword tool.

Google keyword tool search volume, exact match
Google Keyword Tool Search Volume, Exact Match 110,000 Monthly Searches as seen in The Keyword Planner

The Google Keyword Tool is to keyword research as Yahoo! Site Explorer was to link building, the Site Explorer offering the industry a comprehensive, free database of link information for Internet marketers to determine what inbound links existed to a particular domain or webpage.

The Google Keyword Tool was a free tool offered to the public enabling marketers to determine approximate search volume for keywords and phrases. As of today, at least for some, the Google External (free, public) Keyword Tool is also no longer available. In fact, links to the Google External Keyword Tool now redirect users to the Google Keyword Planning Tool.

If you want to get keyword ideas using The Keyword Planner, you’ll need to have a Google AdWords account and be signed in to access.

How Big of an Impact is the Retirement of the Google Keyword Tool?

Each and every day, Internet marketers rely did rely on the Google Keyword Tool to help estimate search volume, competition for a keyword or phrase and commercial intent of a keyword or phase, among other things.

Use of the Google Keyword Tool is unfortunately something that many of us marketers had taken for granted whose functionality for those Google Keyword Tool users without an AdWords account will now have to be replaced by a mixture of free and paid tools. Here is a great post listing with the 10 Best Alternatives to the Google AdWords Keyword Tool.

The Google Keyword Tool served many people in various capacities though its primary use was for keyword research. The keyword research it supported includes gathering information for using Google AdWords PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising campaigns as well as for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and content marketing planning. The Keyword Planning Tool is designed and accessible for planning AdWords campaigns only.

How is Keyword Planner Different Than The Keyword Tool?

Aside from the fact that users will have to create an AdWords account if they don’t currently have one, as one starts to use The Keyword Planner, the user will immediately notice differences between The Keyword Planner and The Keyword Tool interface.

Google Keyword Planner Interface
Google Keyword Planner Interface

Here is a summary of the changes in The Keyword Planner:

No Match Type for Search Volume Estimates

No match type for search volume. The Google Keyword Tool allowed users to view search volumes for three different match types, namely:

  • Exact match – searches that include only the exact search phrase i.e. Google Keyword Tool
  • Phrase match – volume of searches that include the phrase and word order with possibly additional words or phrases – e.g. Free Google Keyword Tool
  • Broad match – volume of searches that include any of the keywords in any order – e.g. External Keyword Tool

Keyword Planner provides users historical statistics only for the exact match. Users are allowed to choose phrase or broad match types only after adding keyword idea to their plan and reviewing the traffic estimates for each match type.

According to Google

“This change will help you get an accurate estimate of how much traffic you can expect to get with different match types. There’s quite a bit of overlap between broad and phrase match keywords, and the search volume statistic in Keyword Tool didn’t take that overlap into account. Traffic estimates like click and cost do take this overlap into account, so checking those can help you decide which match type to use.”

This statement sounds like a great feature for AdWords ad planners but not so much for SEOs and Internet marketers at large.

No Device Targeting

Unlike the Keyword Tool, Keyword Planner does not enable users to exclusively target mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. By default, The Keyword Planner targets all devices which is aligned with recent changes made to AdWords campaigns. Google also announced that their working on a feature that’ll allow users to obtain traffic estimates by device type and set bid adjustments for mobile devices.

Changes in the Data Columns Available in Keyword Planner Vs. The Keyword Tool

The Keyword Planner has several different data columns than those we were accustomed to the now retired Keyword Tool.

Here are the differences:

  • Local monthly searches and global monthly searches: These two columns have been replaced by the “Average monthly searches” column, simplifying the search volume data users can get. The average monthly search volume is specific to a user’s targeting settings, and users can get data for an entire country or individual cities and regions within a country. Note that users can still get global monthly search data by targeting all locations. The ability to get search volumes for individual cities seems like a big win for users.
  • Ad share: This column is being replaced with a new column called ad impression share to help users look for potential impressions. Again, this is useful to an AdWords ad planner but leaves SEOs somewhat in the dark.
  • Google Search Network: This column has been replaced by the network option within the targeting settings. To get data for the entire Search Network, users can select the “Google and search partners” targeting option.
  • Search share: This column has been retired.
  • Approx. CPC (Search): This column has been replaced by the “Avg. CPC” column. According to Google, users can now get more accurate data in the average cost-per-click column than they did in the approximate cost-per-click column. Notice that the average CPC includes all device types across the search and display networks.
  • Local search trends: This column doesn’t appear in The Keyword Planner interface. However, users can still get search volume trends by hovering over the icon in the “Avg. monthly searches” column as can be seen from the graphic showing search volume for Google Keyword Tool above. Keyword Planner users can also see these trends segmented by month when they download their historical statistics from The Keyword Planner tool.
  • Extracted from webpage: This column has been removed from The Keyword Planner interface. Users can still get the webpage address that the keyword idea came from when they download their historical statistics from Keyword Planner. Note that users will only have access to this data when they search for keyword and ad group ideas based on a URL, like a webpage on your website.

 Next Steps

The end of life of The Google Keyword Tool (free/public access to keyword research data) marks the end of an era in keyword research. For those users with an AdWords account, much of the functionality and data offered in the Google Keyword Tool can be accessed within Google Keyword Planner.

Users who have a Google AdWords account should familiarize themselves with the The Traffic Planner tool. To learn more about Keyword Planner, read Larry Kim’s in-depth piece on How To Use The Keyword Planner – The New Keyword Tool From Google AdWords. For those without an AdWords account and no plans to sign up for one, maybe now is a good time to review the 10 Best Alternatives to the Google AdWords Keyword Tool. Please share your thoughts in the comments.


Rick Noel is an experienced digital marketer enabling businesses and organizations to grow through the Internet, while maximizing marketing ROI (Return On Investment). Rick is the CEO and Co-Founder of eBiz ROI, Inc., a full-service digital marketing agency located in Ballston Lake, NY.

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