Keyword Tool Discrepancies – How Broad Match Affects Trend Lines

We have been trying to figure out the tool discrepancies between Google Insights, Google Trends, and the Adwords Keyword Tool .   We noticed that the Google Adwords tool says the phrase “snowboarding equipment” has much higher search volume than the phrase “snowboarding gear,” but Insights and Trends reveal something different.  The lines for “snowboarding gear” are higher than “snowboarding equipment.”

I was curious as to why, and when doing some keyword research, I decided to try something really broad and test different keywords to see how this changed the graph in Insights.  We knew Insights broad matched, but hadn’t quite realized just how much this affected the graph and trend lines.

Taking a look at a broad term like “insurance,” you can really see how the broad match can cause a discrepancy.   I compared “insurance” to “car insurance” and “health insurance.”  Now, since most people are specific when searching for insurance, I expected to see specific keywords having a higher search volume.  “Car insurance” has a much higher exact match search volume.

However, looking at the three terms in Google Insights, you see that "insurance" has a significantly higher line on the graph.   That is because Insights broad matches, and a broad term like “insurance” is matched to so many other keywords, including both “car insurance” and “health insurance.”  You can’t assume that “insurance” is more popular than “car insurance.”  Car insurance is search for more, but insurance appears more popular because it’s broad matched.

You can choose to enter the keywords in quotes to phrase match, but since you can’t get an exact trend, you can’t really compare the exact search volume from the Adwords Keyword tool to the trend lines in Google Insights.

Going back to the snowboarding keywords.  While “snowboarding equipment” has a higher search volume, “snowboarding gear” is more popular because gear is probably broad matched to more terms than equipment is.

Of course, it’s always best to use multiple tools and use them as a guide.  One thing to take away from a trend like this is the importance of researching for variations of keywords.  Insights shows you 10 top searches and 10 rising searches, but if you download a csv of the data you can see a longer list of the top searches for both terms.   It can help you research other keywords that are contributing to the popularity of a certain term.   And maybe even help you see how relevant the terms are that are being matched to your keyword and why one term is more popular than another.

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Wil Reynolds
Wil Reynolds
CEO & Vice President