Final proof that the Google Adwords keywords tool is useless in the UK
Google recently improved, supposedly, its Adwords Keywords tool - which is supposed to tell you search volumes for keywords, so you can plan your Adwords campaigns. Some SEOs use it to estimate natural search traffic as well.
I've finally proved that is of no use to anyone whatsoever in the UK - because it's showing data for UK-based searches using google.com, and includes no data for google.co.uk which is what we all use in the UK (it's fine if you're American and in the USA though). Thanks to Adam Sherk for running the numbers in the US for me. (Update Alternatively, it is showing UK data - but the global volumes are not based on google.com as Google says but on all versions of Google. See comments and follow up.)
Here's how you might use it. And why you shouldn't.
This is the data from the UK tool, showing exact match search volumes, with location set to all for the keyword "harpenden":
As you can see, the tool says there are 4,400 global searches a month. Because location is set to all, the local monthly searches shows 4,400 as well.
So let's assume you want to know how many people in the UK search for Harpenden - it's a small town in Hertfordshire, but you're not that interested in what anyone from abroad thinks of it. You might think you'd set location to the UK.
If you did, this is what you see:
Does the 2,900 in the "local monthly searches" column (now that location is set to UK) mean that there are 2,900 searches a month by people in the UK?
Let's look at the US version of the tool. Here's what it shows when you search for harpenden with locations set to all:
As you can see, there are still 4,400 searches shown.
That's all the evidence I think we need that the Global monthly search volume is, as Google says in its help text, search data from searches on google.com.
What is the "local search" data then? Maybe Google mixes search volume data from .com with search volume data from google.co.uk when you set location to UK and look at local data?
It doesn't. I was almost 100% sure of this before, as it was impossible to ever get the local figure to be higher than the global figure - implying the local figure must be a subset of the global data for google.com (and not the sum of the UK searches on google.com plus searches on google.co.uk).
And here's the proof. This is the data for a more specific search for spire Harpenden:
- In the UK, the global monthly search volume is 480/month.
- This is what the American tool tells us it is as well.
- The US tool also informs us that no one in the US searches for that term (local volumes there are 0).
- The US and UK tools both say that, with location set to UK, local searches are 480 month.
This must mean that the local monthly search volume data is for searches in the UK using google.com. The tool can't be suddenly adding in .co.uk data when you choose local - or that 480 figure would have gone up (unless no one ever uses google.co.uk to search for spire harpenden. But that can't be true).
That's it really. When you're in the UK, the tool shows you searches from the UK using google.com. Most people in the UK use google.co.uk - so the data is completely meaningless, whether you're using it to run a PPC campaign or estimate natural search volumes.
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