Research is the smart first step when starting a new SEO campaign or growing an existing SEO effort. I talk with clients to brainstorm a few keyword ideas and then feed those seed keywords into tools to find related keywords. Then, ideally, I look at traffic and competition metrics to identify low hanging fruit of the long tail and other gems in the rough. (Per previous whiny posts,) Wordtracker (wordtracker.com) lost my business a while ago, but SEOmoz (seomoz.org) is just as frustrating.
Every single bit of keyword research I’ve done on SEOmoz returns “unavailable” for these metrics:
- Local Search Volume (Exact Match)
- Global Monthly Search Volume (Exact Match)
- Local Search Volume (Broad Match)
- Global Monthly Search Volume (Broad Match)
…Leaving only one SEOmoz metric, “Keyword Difficulty” which also often returns the dreaded “unavailable” result.
Obfuscating Valuable SEO Metrics is a Poor (But Popular) Business Model
What’s worse, this “Keyword Difficulty” metric is dumbed down so as to hide any real value. While I’m sure the two-digit SEOmoz Keyword Difficulty score (or the nearly identical two-digit “Competition” score from Wordtracker) in some fashion represents IAAT and other competition metrics, I am more than hesitant to base important keyword decisions on these vague scores. While I’m sure their scoring algorithms consider many factors, I’m accustomed to crafting my own meta-metrics. But pretend for a second that we do trust their “scores” – exactly how are we supposed to make intelligent decisions without good traffic data?
More frustrating still is the fact that SEOmoz limits us to five keywords at a time and always takes several minutes to return results. There’s nothing less satisfying that twiddling your thumbs waiting for a screen full of “unavailable”. Oh wait, there is – try paying $99 per month for the privilege. Yeah, it burns.
What Does SEOmoz Have to Say?
I posed these conundrums to SEOmoz and received a few responses.
Load times in the Keyword Difficulty tool can vary depending on the keyword(s) and time of day but generally, this shouldn’t be more that a minute or so. Cutting down on load times is also why we limit individual searches to 5 terms.
Sounds like a crappy Band-Aid to me. I ran into slow load times regardless of time of day and keywords.
Search volumes were pulled from the tool several months ago due to problems we were having with accuracy. So instead of taking the entire tool offline, we removed search volumes while we work on new metrics that we hope provide more valuable data. In the interim, I’d recommend checking out Google’s Keyword tool if you’re looking for search volumes.
What are the chances that somebody using SEOmoz doesn’t already know about the Google Keyword tool? And why did it take a trouble ticket for me to find out that this is a known issue? Ugh.
Although we don’t have a solid ETA at the moment for a release on the new metrics, we’ll definitely let everyone know via the community and blog.
I’ll ask them if they can just send me a note when they get it in gear. I don’t want to have to follow them on Twitter for five months to figure out that their ducks are all finally in a row. I asked if I could have a second free trial whenever they fix their tools, you know, so I don’t have to pay a hundred bucks to play with broken toys:
Unfortunately I can’t promise that since we don’t have an actual ETA on when the new metrics will be updated but I’d be happy to add a credit to the account for half off your next month if you’d like.
Paying $50 to test their patches wouldn’t be as bad, but it’s hardly ideal customer service.
What’s the best SEO Keyword Research Tool?
And just to be clear, I’m asking you. Sure, I can get all the data I need directly from Google, but it’s a time-consuming boondoggle. That’s why SEO professionals like me used to pay thousands of dollars every year to the likes of Wordtracker and SEOmoz. Alas, no more.
If I’m going to spend a couple grand a year for competition and traffic metrics, I expect better. What SEO tools do you recommend? If you know a coder looking to make a buck on a new creation, I’ll help him/her design a killer app for keyword research. All I ask in return? Please let me use it.When not whining on this blog Dan Dreifort consults on Search Engine Optimization and Usability from his home. An avid musician, Dreifort is currently performing with four different bands and trying to form a fifth. Dan Dreifort is for scuba.