Although there is a good chunk of SEOs who still view Google’s Keyword Planner as a far from perfect tool, it’s still something that is considered the best tool available right now.  Just look at the keyword volume numbers.  Who else is more trustworthy when it comes to keyword volume data than Google?

At this point, with the free Keyword Tool now gone, what is it that we should do now?

The Pros and Cons of Google Keyword Planner

Google is still strongly supporting their focus on supporting PPC advertisers instead of organic search marketers.  This is clear with the advent of the Keyword Planner.  Although you still need to sign up for an Adwords account to do anything useful, the Keyword Planner is heavily focused on PPC ads.  Even with that heavy focus, the Keyword Planner retains some SEO utility.

The Good Side of The Keyword Planner:

  • You can check out the keyword volume on an awesome local basis.  You can drill down further than users could before.  Instead of just viewing the search volume for Oklahoma City, you can drill down into Norman, which is a smaller OKC area town.  You can imagine the applications for this added geographic detail.

  • The Keyword Planner will divide keywords into suggested ad groups.  Although this is part of the tool is designed for PPC, it can give you some more insight into keywords that Google feels is related to what you are looking for.

  • The “multiply keyword lists” is a feature that allows you to combine terms with modifiers from two different lists, all without having to export anything to Excel.

  • Keywords below a certain search volume can now be filtered out, leaving  you with more worthwhile keywords

  • With the fact you have to be logged in when using the Keyword Planner, you aren’t limited to 100 words like many used to be when they were in the logged out version of the Keyword Tool.

The Downsides of the Keyword Planner:

  • Only Exact match data is now available.  Broad, Phrase or Exact match selecting is now the way of the Dodo.

  • It seems historical data is now gone, as “average monthly searches” is calculated over a 12 month period.  This means that if you want to find trending topics to research, Keyword Planner isn’t the place to go.  Use Google Trends instead.

  • Although Google says they will possibly add this feature back in, the ability to search for words related to your term has been removed.

  • Gone is device targeting.  No more will you be able to segment volume for desktop versus mobile searches.  Now that both buckets are combined, the volume numbers will be higher in general for the Keyword Planner than they were for Keyword Tool.

  • “Local” vs “Global” search volume won’t be displayed automatically anymore.  Global, or “all locations” as Google calls it now, is the default.  Because of this, users are required to drill down into specific locales for local search volume.

It seems that Google’s data hoarding is something that strongly resonates with users.  This is a big negative with them.  There are other sources you can use to look for keyword volume.

Google Webmaster Tools

You can find the Google Webmaster Tools here.


  • This data still comes from Google itself.


  • GWT Impression data can’t be used to research terms you’re not ranking for, since it only shows the number of impressions your site is getting from a keyword.

  • Many SEOs feel that the accuracy of the data is less reliable than Keyword Tool data.

Bing Keyword Tool

The Bing-provided alternative to the Google Keyword tool is great when compared to what was lost with the absence of the Keyword Tool.


  • You can more accurately track recent search data by narrowing searches by date range.

  • Recent keyword volume trend data displays alongside other metrics.

  • Similar to the old “closely related” filter in Google’s Keyword Tool, the “strict” filter is quite  useful in Bing.

  • Since this service is still in Beta, the chance that more improvements and features will be added is pretty high.


  • With Bing having fewer uses, all the search volume numbers will skew lower when compared to Google’s numbers.

  • Geographic drilldown is only available at the country level.

  • When using Bing Webmaster Tools, you must be signed in with a verified site in order to use the tool.


WordTracker still seems pretty reliable


  • Their proprietary Keyword Effectiveness Index gauges how competitive every keyword is for the amount of search volume it generates.

  • WordTracker has partnered with SEMRush.  This means that paid users are provided with paid search data as well.

  • Users can filter results by match type.  This includes “keywords in any order”, “exact keyword inside a search term” and “exact keyword only” as well as “related terms.”


  • Although there’s a free version, there isn’t as much functionality than the full tool, which requires a $69/month to utilize everything.

  • In order to use WordTracker, you have to create an account with a valid email address in order to gain access to the free tool

  • WordTracker data will come from one of two sources, depending on if you’re using the free version or the paid version.  These sources are either a “major search engine advertising network,” or from metacrawlers.



  • The free SEMRush keyword research tool gives its users PPC and SEO information in one view.  This can be quite useful for marketers running hybrid PPC/SEO programs.

  • SEMRush surfaces up both the root domain and the specific URL that rank for your keyword term in the first 20 slots.

  • Individual keyword reports are served up to users.  These reports include related and phrase match terms, along with volume.

  • Since the keyword volume data is coming right from the Google Keyword API, this mean that this source of keyword volume data is more trustworthy than others.


  • Although it is free, users must create a login with a valid email address to use the tool.

  • Local, video, carousel or other non-text result types aren’t taken into account for SERP information.

  • Geographic drilldown is only available at the country level.

  • This tool is more effective at researching individual keywords.

Don’t Hit Enter

This one is probably the most simple out of the bunch.  All you need to do is begin typing one of your core terms into Google, but don’t hit enter.  At this point, keywords will popup under what you began typing. Then, “start the next word” by typing different letters to get further suggestions.


  • This will more likely drive users to use Google Suggestions that are close to their origianl query if they come up.


  • Because you’re using itself, there are no “related terms” data.  Everything that pops up will start with that first word.

  • Naturally, there won’t be any keyword volume data to look at.  That’s what other tools are used for.

  • The suggestions you get may be skewed because of your location and search history.

The Future of Keyword Volume

Because no one keyword tool is perfect, it’s always recommended that you use more than one tool to get the job done.  There are some things to consider in your keyword volume research.

  • Increased personalization in search results means that you may not show up every time the a keyword is searched, even if you rank very well for a keyword most of the time.

  • There’s no way for keyword volume tools to predict the frequency of times you’ll be personalized in or out of people’s SERPs.

  • Some terms may be important to target, regardless of if they are low in volume.  This could be because they are important to your brand, or because they convert highly, even if lower traffic doesn’t matter.