• Mark Kennedy

    Hi Laura,

    I’ve seen the same thing over the course of time and it makes you curious of how accurate any tool is and where they pull the data. My guess is that the adwords tool and Google trends may pull data from different or multiple varying sources. While I didn’t see your same results for gear vs. equipment, I was able to replicate your results for vanilla vs. chocolate.

    For me, I take every keyword tool with a grain of salt. I use them as guides and not absolutes. Also, as you know, things can change with the drop of a hat. Fir example, if for some reason it’s found that vanilla ice cream causes a certain illness then those numbers go out the window for a current time frame with a huge spike in vanilla.

    One thing to ask (which may be why you and I see different numbers), did the time frame you used on Google trends match the time frame the Google adwords tool is using? Sometimes I forget to change the time frame on trends and the data can be very different (especially newsworthy terms like H1N1 or the Eagles :)

    In the end, when you have to make a difference between optimizing for equipment or gear and you can’t rely on the keyword tools, you’re just going to have to rely on your expertise as an SEO professional. Test, examine results, test, examine results, etc. Sometimes you’re your own best keyword tool.

  • divinci

    Yeah I have noticed similar discrepancies with the various *different* google tools out there.

    At the moment I am more interested in SEO theory than actual practice! BUT if I owned two sites that both ranked #1 for closely related search terms – like “snowboarding gear” or “snowboarding equipment” then I am sure you would be able to use the data gleaned from them to see what tool was the most accurate.

    IMHO I also think that the Adwords Keyword Tool is the one you need to concentrate on, as the guys in charge of that *must/should* have a reason for placing the “snowboarding equipment” higher than the latter term.

    Say for example:
    1. The trends and insights graphs for both “snowboarding gear” and “snowboarding equipment” showed that they were searched for exactly the same.
    2. The keyword tool showed “snowboarding equipment” as in your image – outperforming the latter term.

    Maybe with all bigG’s data, they have found that in terms of advertising / buying SB stuff, “SB gear” is searched for the same number of times as “SB equipment” – BUT a person searching for “SB gear” who wants to BUY – usually also searches for “snowboarding equipment”.

    I must say that what I have written just doesnt make sense :)

  • Cody Gibbs

    I have no idea, but I have never really trusted the Keyword Research Tool. I see it more as a guide. Insights seems more refined, while the research tool seems to give back a lot of rounded numbers. Comparing two words, I would trust Insights more.

  • Laura

    @Mark – I agree, it is important to take things with a grain of salt — good advice. You are also right that the correct way to probably resolve this is test & be results focused.

    @divinci & @cody – Thank you both for your comments and for reading.

  • Sam Diener

    I trust NEITHER. But I also think the publisher of this article is missing a very critical point. Actually – critical to the point that you might want to remove this article.

    You have my email. I will share over that to avoid embarassment.


  • Wil Reynolds

    Hey Sam, if we missed something major its OK to let us know here. You can’t create something great if you aren’t willing to make mistakes on the way, so we’re fine with a little embarrassment if we learn from it.

  • Sam Diener

    Wil. Thank you for the phone conversation. We will be in touch soon.

    Per my understanding, The basic assumption from this article is incorrect. (The data used in Insights/Trends is the same as in the keyword tool.) Google correlates this fact in their help section…

    The Traffic Estimator (keyword tool) is designed to give you keyword search traffic and cost estimates at a glance. (The estimates are for search on Google and search partner sites only; they don’t include estimates for the number of clicks your ads might receive on placements you choose or on the rest of the Content Network……

    So by this, of course trends/insights would provide different trend lines.

    Happy SEOing..

    Sam Diener
    (Who is this guy?)

  • Wil Reynolds

    I think Laura’s assumption is that it appears that Google is not using the same data source for insights and adwords estimates and when they are wildly divergent in terms of their results which of the two do we believe for search volumes, Insights or The adwords tool. Both are showing search volumes. To me its still a puzzle because in the example above we got two different outcomes for the same keyword, I am hoping others chime in with their experiences as well – since I am still not entirely sure.

  • Sam Diener

    But let’s not forget…. google is VERY mysterious…

  • Mark Kennedy

    Hi Everyone,

    Sam, you actually bring up a good point coming straight from Google. However, you are also bringing a 3rd tool into the mix. The traffic estimator and the Google adwords keyword tool are two different tools and trends would be the 3rd. Now as of recently, Google has combined some of the traffic estimator features in the new Google adwords keyword tool (beta), but I’m not sure if it’s perfected yet. Maybe we can consider this a 4th tool as well :)

    But as you pointed out, Google states that they not only pull data from their own search engine, but the partners as well. So that could be screwing with the numbers. Maybe trends doesn’t pull that partner data.

    So I think it really comes down to two questions for each keyword tool. Where do they get their data? And what time frame do they use when pulling that data? I think those two answers may be different for each tool. Kind of like how each algo is different for each search engine.

    So it really comes down to using the tools as a guide, but using your testing, skills, and results to find your answer.

  • Laura

    @Sam – Thank you for your feedback. You are correct — insights and trends are supposed to use the same data set. My questioning was in the differences between insights/trends vs adwords traffic estimator. In my research, I actually couldn’t find anything that concretely stated that Adwords traffic estimator uses only Google traffic/partner data and that Insights/Trends uses some different data set. And while it does seem that they might use different data, my ultimate question was which set should be trusted?

  • David de Souza

    I would start an adwords campaign using the exact match for each and compare the number of impressions over 7 days to the various tools.

    In my experience using the above method, the keyword tool seems to be more accurate.

  • Angel Lee Dresses

    I was so confused about the results for Tends and keyword tools so I found my self on this post.

    I still feeling confused!!! hehe

    Is the keyword tool more accurate then?

  • Pingback: Keyword Tool Discrepancies – How Broad Match Affects Trend Lines | Seer Interactive SEO Blog

  • Amanda

    Have you tried doing a deep dive using several different keyword research tools and compared volumes across them to see what the results were? It would be interesting to see a case study on this…

  • hookedonweb

    Comparing data from keywords with trends is truly apples and oranges.

    The keyword tool only gives raw (estimated) volume “per phrase” whereas trends compares phrases against other phrases and that along with averaging, normalization over time (a date range) is why data from the two do not match.

    Remember that trends takes the highest search volume over the time requested and assigns it a level of 100 and then compares that volume against the remaining data over the requested time frame.

    Now every-time you add an additional phrase trends looks for the highest search volume for the date range of all phrases (up to 5 phrases) and assigns it a value of 100.

    Think of trends as the level of interest in a single phrase over time or multiple phrases compared with each other overtime.

    That is why you can enter a single phrase into trends and get one set of data points, call it Result-A. Now compare that phrase with another and the data points from Result-A will change. Its because you are dealing with averages and normalization.

    Now if you lookup two keywords, one key-1 = 1K per month and key-2 = 3k per month, then go over to trends and enter the two phrases you can get a result that makes key-1 look bigger. Its not, because what you are looking at is not volume (or monthly search volume) it more like the interest was higher. Normalization math is weird but you just have to remember that trends is not reporting volume.

    Its hard to wrap your head around.