Start checking the numbers and get back to the drawing board. That's what a lot of search marketers will be thinking once they take a look at the new Google Keyword Tool figures.
Google quietly updated the numbers in the keyword tool late last week, which brought about numerous reports of huge drops in search traffic numbers on forums and industry websites, and speculation that the keyword tool was broken.
After analyzing a handful of sites that I know the correct traffic numbers for, I've concluded that the update has improved the accuracy of exact match searches.
The Problem for SEMs
Google's Keyword Tool has become such an important element in the planning stage of building a website that the discrepancies between the old data and the new may be quite alarming to someone who has vested a large amount of money into a campaign that may be flawed from the beginning.
For example, the (exact) phrase [golf clubs” used to report an estimate of 165,000 monthly searches two weeks ago:
As of right now, the (exact) phrase [golf clubs” reports 33,100 monthly searches.
Not everyone takes the old Keyword Tool figures too seriously. Some people divide estimates in half; others divide by 10. There are lots of varying ideas as to what was accurate with the old data, but it appears that the new data is substantially more accurate than it ever has been.
In the case of the [golf clubs” example, assuming you take the exact figures for what they are -- suddenly, overnight, your profit forecasts for having a brilliant "Online Golf Clubs" business at the top position in Google have gone down 80 percent.
How Would This Impact Your Marketing Budget For a Campaign?
I've looked over some other examples (single keyword phrases in particular) and seen numbers drop from more than 100,000 to a relatively small 9,900.
If you're currently halfway through a search marketing campaign, perhaps now is the time to check your numbers and possibly go back to the drawing board on a few.
More than a few of you have probably experienced the excitement of reaching the top positions for a particular phrase, only to be disappointed by the poor traffic at the top. This accuracy update should make things easier for SEMs in the long term.
However, it highlights the fact that one should never rely on a single source data when deciding on a new project or campaign.