Keyword Canine, Market Samurai and LongTail Pro – all well-established and highly respected keyword research tools that will almost certainly feature on the shortlist of anyone who really wants to crack the conundrum of finding the right keywords for their marketing project.
They all do the same job – or do they? Here, Online visibility guru, Steve Jex, looks at these powerful, and popular, tools side by side and gives you the lowdown from the perspective of someone who uses keyword research tools every day and knows what he likes – and what he doesn’t!
When looking for a tool to do anything I believe you should always compare what you need to what is generally accepted as the “norm.” For, example, you wouldn’t fully appreciate the benefits of an electric drill until you have tried to drill a hole in a hard substance using a hand drill. The benefits of the electric drill become apparent very quickly. In the world of keyword research, the “hand drill” that we should compare everything to, in my opinion, is Google’s “Keyword Planner”. When comparing keyword research tools I believe that you should always look at this first – it’s free and, for many people, it’s all they need!
So why then, should we be considering buying tools if there’s a perfectly good free one up for grabs? The answer lies in the detail, detail that Google choose not to provide you with when you use the Keyword Planner. First and foremost bear in mind that the Keyword Planner is a tool to help you to use Google AdWords and buy ppc advertising from them. You have to have a Google AdWords account to use this tool (it’s free), but you don’t have to spend any money on ads if you don’t want to.
If you enter a “seed” keyword or phrase, The Google Keyword Planner will go off and find up to 800 words and phrases that it considers to be relevant or related to your seed word(s). Many of these results will not be relevant to your own requirements due to the glorious ambiguity of the English language and the fact that many words have multiple meanings and uses. Nonetheless, you will get a list of words and phrases that people have used to carry out searches on Google within the last twelve months and, once you weed out the junk, (i.e. not relevant to you), you have the beginnings of a keyword list. But just the beginnings. You can “tighten up” the relevance of the keywords that Google supplies in this tool by selecting the “only show closely related ideas” option, failure to do so would give you a list that includes both “mens shoes” and “shoes” – too general for use as keywords for SEO and likely to produce a lot of wasted clicks if used for generating a ppc list.
The first thing to bear in mind about your list is that Google tends to only give you phrases that have significant search volumes and does not provide the longer phrases that, although searched for less often, are a much more accurate reflection of the intentions behind the search.
So, a search for “golf shoes” means you are interested in golf or you know someone who is interested in golf but you may or may not be in the process of researching a potential purchase.
Whereas, a search for “cheap golf shoes” indicates that you are already in the buying process and at a fairly late stage – ready to buy soon. Simply by adding the word “cheap” to the search phrase we have focused the search and we are now targeting high probability buyers.
Market Samurai Keyword Research Tool
So what does the Market Samurai keyword research tool make of the same seed words? Well, since it uses Google’s Keyword Planner as its keyword data source, the list you are given will be much the same as the one that Google just gave you, for free. Where it comes into its own however is in the range of additional analysis that Google does not provide and which is designed to enable you to find keywords and phrases that have a better chance of delivering traffic to you in Organic Search campaigns, i.e. “not paid for” campaigns and in selecting keywords to base your website content, blog posts and articles on.
For example, when we look at the list
Market Samurai extends the range of the Google Keyword Planner with a series of marketing analysis metrics which should enable you to narrow down your search with a minimum of effort. Here are the Market Samurai Keyword Research tools that you have at your disposal when use use Market Samurai for keyword research:
Let’s run through these quickly, so that you know what you are likely to be able to do. The first column, under the “Organic” heading is very straightforward and you probably need all of these to be ticked.
Local Total Searches – also shown in Google’s Keyword Planner, shows the number of exact match searches carried out over a specific period – choose from Daily, Weekly or Monthly. The fact that it is exact match only is very significant since, in our example, if our search term is “cheap golf shoes” then the rules of exact match means that “buy cheap golf shoes” would not trigger a result in Google Search, (or in AdWords if you were doing a ppc campaign). For that to happen in AdWords you would make it a “phrase match” where the search term must be as stated but it can be part of a longer phrase. Both Google Keyword Planner and Market Samurai enable you to specify the geographical location in which you wish to search although, whereas Google enables you to specify both country and a town or city, Market Samurai only enables you to specify the country – UK in our examples.
Local SEO Traffic – This is Market Samurai’s estimate of how many clicks you would get on average, over a month, if you were ranked number 1 in Google Search for the search term in question.
Trends – provides a short cut to the Google Trend data for the selected search term.
The next column uses data from Majestic who are famous for being the compilers of the Majestic index of backlinks and for calculating two important metrics for SEO professionals and for content marketers, Citation Flow and Trust Flow.
- Title Comp – this shows the number of web pages listed in Majestic’s index which include the whole search term in the page title tag. It is a widely held belief that Google places great importance in the contents of the page title so if you can include the main keyword that you want the page to be optimised for in there, it is bound to have a positive effect.
- URL Comp – as for Title comp but the search phrase would have to be all, or part, of the page URL – in Majestic’s index.
- Anchor Comp – this looks for how many examples of anchor text in links on websites containing the keyword or phrase
- Domain Comp – looks in the index for occurrences of the search term in domain names
- Title & Anchor Comp – refines the above by counting only those occurrences where the keyword/phrase is in both anchor text and the page title. If this is a high number then the word/phrase is likely to be more difficult to rank for.
Next we go to the “Basic Competition” column:
- SEO Comp – how many web pages are there in Bing’s index that mention this phrase? Not sure why it’s Bing, not Google, but that’s how they do it.
- Local Comp – as above but restricted to the specified geographical region or country.
- Title Comp – the search terms appears in the page title – global
- Local Title – the search term appears in the page title – local to specified region or country
- URL comp – the search term appears in the URL of the page as indexed by Bing – global
- Local URL – as above but in the specified region or country
- Title/Comp – a metric that shows the ratio of pages where the search term is included in the URL and the page title – global. These pages would be probably be highly focused on the search term in question and if there are a lot of them, ranking could be very difficult.
Finally, the Commerciality section:
- SEO Value – multiplies the metric for local SEO traffic by the average cost per click for the same search term in Google AdWords and presents this as a likely value for traffic generated by that search term.
- Avg AdWords CPC – the cost of a click in AdWords for this search term – low cost clicks are either low competition and/or have no or low search traffic.
When choosing keywords for a ppc campaign you would look for those with relatively good search volumes and low levels of competition coupled with low average cost per click. They exist buyt they take some looking for. The same applies to SEO work for the most part – low competition keywords with some traffic will be easier to rank for.
So, as a tool for finding and evaluating keywords, Market Samurai really just expands the level of analysis that Google provides in the AdWords Keyword Planner. How useful those extra levels of analysis are is a matter for debate. I’ve never believed that using Bing’s index is really indicative of what might happen in Google’s SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) but then again I have used Market Samurai for quite a few years now and I’ve had a great deal of success with it. If it’s just a matter of finding and making a list of keywords that you want then save your money and use the AdWords Keyword Planner for free but if you want to refine your list a little more – Market Samurai deserves a place on your shortlist.
Where Keyword Planner and Market Samurai both fall short is in the location of words and phrases that are not supplied by the Google Keyword Planner. Market Samurai uses Keywrod Planner as its data source so the words/phrase you are given will be largely the same for both tools. Surely then, a tool with the name “Longtail Pro” will be able to provide those elusive longer phrases which may well have lower levels of traffic but which also have much lower levels of competition and so are much easier to rank for. Unfortunately, this is not quite the case.
Like Market Samurai, Longtail Pro, (now Longtail Pro Platinum), uses the Google Keyword Planner as its source so if you enter a seed keyword you will get the same list of keywords thsat ou would have got if you had used the free Google tool. So where are the longtail keywords? well that depends on what you call longtail – 4 words, 5 words, more?
So is Longtail Pro (Platinum) really worth the money? – it isn’t particularly cheap, coming in at a monthly cost of $37, less if you pay annually, although is is less than Keyword Canine, one of the other keyword research tools evaluated in this article. Market Samurai is a one-off purchase with no monthly fees unless you want to use the rank tracker option.
My answer is that for most people, the answer would have to be no. Despite its name, Longtail Pro does not find you lots of longer key phrases that are not provided by Google so the issue would have to be whether it provides levels of keyword analysis that could justify the cost – and, for me, it doesn’t.
That brings us to our third, and for the moment, our final contender, Jon Leger’s Keyword Canine. Here we have a keyword tool that has that little bit extra to offer the serious keyword researcher and which really can find those precious long tail keywords that Google simply doesn’t offer in their Keyword Planner.