Review: New Google Keyword Tool Sucks!

Posted August 13, 2010 – 5:21 pm

I am very disappointed by the new version of Google’s Keyword Tool. In my opinion, the new keyword tool is a big step backward and basically sucks.

Google Keyword Tool

Google Keyword Tool

Google’s Keyword Tool is a keyword research tool that is part of Google AdWords. Until now, it has been the most accurate, most accessible, and most useful keyword research tool available.

But there are major problems with the new version which result in much lower quality and accuracy keyword suggestions.

Sadly, Google announced this week that the new version of the Keyword Tool is coming out of beta at the end of August. At that time, the old tool will no longer be accessible. In recent months while Google has been testing the beta in general release, Google has provided an prominent link from the new interface to the old interface. That has allowed me to put off the day of reckoning.

But with the imminent demise of the old version upon us, I’ve taken some time to carefully test and compare the two versions side-by-side. The result is not pretty. My conclusion: Without a doubt that the new version generates just incredibly, dramatically worse keyword lists than the old version.

New vs. Old: Suggested Keywords Comparison

The main problem with the new version of the tool is that it generates much less useful and relevant alternative keywords than the old interface does. Like by a HUGE margin. It is shocking how different the results are.

I just compared the suggested keywords generated by the two versions using a set of ~35 keywords/phrases related to ‘web tools’ (list pasted below). While the new tool always generates worse results, this particular set of terms really highlight how extremely bad the new tool is.

New Version Results

The new tool generated a list of 800 keywords (as it does for every set of keywords no matter how long it is). The vast majority of these 800 suggested terms had absolutely nothing to do with ‘web tools’.

When sorted by ‘global search volume’, only 7 of the top 50 results even contained or was even vaguely related to ‘web tools’. Instead, as you can see in the screenshot below, the results are full of irrelevant terms like ‘joomla’, ‘drupal’, ‘ecommerce’, etc. Even wackadoodle terms such as ‘art design’ and ‘fashion design’ make it onto the list.

In other words, the new version generates a list that is essentially useless.

New Version: Suggested Keywords for 'Web Tools'

New Version: Suggested Keywords for 'Web Tools'

Old Version Results

On the other hand, the old version generates a highly useful list of 150 terms all of which are tightly related to ‘web tools’. Every single one of the terms in the list contains the word ‘tool’ combined with variations on ‘web’ and related ideas: ‘webmaster’ ‘web design’ ‘free website’ ‘seo’, ‘online’, etc. There is not one term that’s off target – and certainly nothing remotely approaching the uselessness of ‘art design’.

In other words, the old version generates an extremely useful and accurate list of suggested keywords.

As you can see plainly by comparing the two lists, the difference in keyword relevance between the old version and the new version is night and day. It is quite remarkable.

Old Version: Suggested Keywords for 'Web Tools'

Old Version: Suggested Keywords for 'Web Tools'

Other Problems

There are at least two other major problems with the new version:

  1. In the new version, when you click the advanced option to include only ‘ideas containing my search terms’, the new tool, which moments before eagerly pumped out 800 terms, suddenly becomes incredibly parsimonious and oftentimes offers up just a handful of terms. When I tried this for the list of 35 or so ‘web tools’ terms, I get LESS terms than I started with – only 26! And even the new ones in this list are not terribly relevant or useful. This boggles the mind.
  2. The old version had a fantastically helpful option to see data limited to just ‘the keywords I entered’. This generated search counts and CPC stats, etc. limited specifically to your target list. The new version simply does not have this feature at all. That means that even if I can piece together a decent master list on my own (with or without the help of the new Keyword Tool), I can’t even validate this list using Google search volume and estimated CPC data.

I have to assume these major changes have been made by design and that Google has purposefully chosen to restrict/reduce the accuracy and relevance of the keyword data that they are sharing with us customer types.

Needless to say, I am not looking forward to losing the old version at the end of August.

List of ‘web tools’ related terms that I used to test both versions.

101 web tools
basic web tools
best web design tools
best web tools
complete web tools
cool web tools
essential tools
essential web toolkit
essential web tools
free web tools
my best web tools
my top tools
my web toolkit
my web tools
online web tools
top web tools
useful web tools
web design tools
web search tools
web seo tools
web tool pages
web tool pal
web tool review
web tool reviews
web tool tips
web toolkit
web tools 101
web tools directory
web tools pages
web tools review
web toolset
webmaster toolkit
webmaster tools
website tool
website tools
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  1. Posted September 2, 2010 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    Nice post. Perfectly summarizes and points out the big flaws that I too found with Google’s tool. I can’t stand this “innovation” that Google keeps pushing on all of us online marketers. I think the purpose is to squeeze SEO’s as much as possible in an attempt to get rid of us once and for all.

    Fortunately, other companies are stepping in to fill the void and the cream will always rise to the top. So keyword research takes a bit more time than it used to? Those of us with the real drive to succeed in this industry will only get more successful.

  2. WebBizGeek
    Posted September 7, 2010 at 2:19 pm | Permalink


    Thanks for your comment.

    What other companies are you using to ‘fill the void’? I’m having relatively little success (on my limited budget) finding options that meet my needs.

  3. Posted September 2, 2010 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    Hi John

    I would have to agree with you 1000% on this one! As I do most of my work using an older Mac, I can also add that the new tool will not work on my PC – can’t get it to do anything in Opera, Safari or Firefox (at least the versions that run on OS 10.3.9 – it seems I might (finally) have to upgrade to a new one!!!

    So last night I went over to my Windows 7 laptop to check out some keywords for an idea I had regarding wordpress training… and to be brutally honest, the keyword “ideas” this tool spat back at me were, sorry to say, pretty useless.

    My results were packed with all sorts of other training related to microsoft, joomla, drupal, mambo 2000, 2003 etc… and while I “can” deselect these ideas from the list on the left, or use a -keyword option in the keyword box… it’s a total pain! And what I was left with was not very useful to say the least!

    In trying to google what was going one here… yours was about the only useful page I could find that confirmed my experience. So good on you for “discussing” what’s happening…

    And two thumbs down for the new tool from me.


  4. WebBizGeek
    Posted September 7, 2010 at 2:20 pm | Permalink


    Glad to hear I am not alone in seeing this. I am amazed it is not more widely discussed, but I’ve really not seen anything in Google AdWords forums or elsewhere.

  5. Richard
    Posted September 7, 2010 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Hi, great post.

    I’ve also noticed massive estimated search volume figures between the two. Have you done any research to suggest which of the two is producing the best estimates?



  6. WebBizGeek
    Posted September 7, 2010 at 2:27 pm | Permalink


    I’ve not done any comparative research on the search volumes, but plenty of other people have. I’ve been following this thread from a few weeks back: Same guy has published an update to it that you can find in the comments.

    There are also many, many posts in the Google AdWords forums about volume related problems. For instance, I was reading this one earlier today:, but there are many others if you browse around.

    As far as I can tell, no one from Google has responded on those volume-related threads nor has anyone responded to the thread I started about the lower relevance of keyword suggestions.

  7. Posted September 25, 2010 at 3:52 am | Permalink

    Glad I’m not the only one who hates the new Keyword tool. Just tried to do some keyword research and got a massive list of absolutely useless suggestions!

    The old keyword tool returned some relevant and also long tail keywords that will very useful and achievable. But now I’m just getting a load of two word results that are a. not relevant, and b. a ridicuously huge competition!

  8. Posted September 27, 2010 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Excellent Post! I’ve been doing the exact same thing; using the old version while the doom and gloom awaited it’s rise from beta.

    I had tried on several occasions to ween myself from the old version, only to find my way back to the hind tit.

    Aside for the lack of quality keys that it resolves, small features in the old version, where it provided a drop-down menu for (ie) [exact match] and everything after that remained ‘exact match’. Now you have to type the []’s in every time and still are unsure if your getting exact match or not. It does show the brackets in the results…

    Couple that with (on my screen) huge spaces between keywords with some sort of graph to the right but nothing supporting that graph/meter. Yes, I know it’s probably a setting but google has NEVER (at least in my book) be know for good screen ergonomics. They have never quite figured out where to put things (like submit buttons) to make their products easily navigable.

    Appreciate the space to blow off… had to take a break and see if I was the only one that thought the new version to be pure puppy poop!


  9. James
    Posted October 2, 2010 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    Its a b***shit tool!

  10. Posted October 4, 2010 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    I miss the old version so much. The new tool is sooooooooo bad I can’t imagine how someone thought this was an improvement. I used to work for google adwords building hundreds of adwords accounts and even our dept. got cut off from the old keyword tool. I’ve never been more frustrated with google enginers and their decisions to make us use this damn new tool…

  11. Posted October 4, 2010 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    I miss the good old one – what a wrong business decision they took in Google – they should fire the one who make this stupid decision …
    I am sure it was done deliberately to push people to advertise with their Google Adword business.
    Never mind.
    When they realize that people stop adverting or making mistakes, they might get back to the previous tool.
    Ho I am so angry!

  12. Ricardo
    Posted October 5, 2010 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    [we can’t print Ricardo’s comment, but let’s just say he’s not too pleased with the new version.]

  13. Posted October 6, 2010 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    Words can’t explain my frustration at the new Adwords Keyword Tool. I don’t understand the motive for making it more difficult for people to build proper keyword lists.

    This new tool provides absolutely useless results, and is making it harder for me to build strong campaigns for my clients.

    If people can’t build proper keyword lists for their Adwords campaigns, isn’t this detrimental for Google?

    – pissed off

  14. WebBizGeek
    Posted October 6, 2010 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    @Chris: I completely agree you with – I have no idea how putting out a less useful tool helps Google. You’d think it would be in their best interest to do the exact opposite.

  15. Eric
    Posted October 7, 2010 at 3:05 am | Permalink

    one great thing about the old tool was that if you had a list of keywords you could add them to the side of the webpage and then when you generated a new list using the keyword tool it would show you if you already had the keywords in your list.

    The new tool doesnt provide you with this option.

    Maybe it will come up in time.

  16. Posted October 11, 2010 at 5:55 am | Permalink

    Can somebody talk to Google about this? Please

  17. WebBizGeek
    Posted October 11, 2010 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    @Soly: I don’t think Google is terribly easy to talk to on matters like this. I posted a thread on the Google forums about this a couple months back and no one has responded ( Likewise there are many other forum posts that have received little, if any, response.

    I also find it interesting that they did not have a ‘provide feedback’ option for the keyword tool beta whereas they have used this technique elsewhere – e.g., new AdSense interface.

    I think the best we can hope for is that they are actually reading these types of posts and making changes behind the scenes that will improve the product.

  18. Posted October 13, 2010 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the post and pointing out the true problem with the new interface. At first I just thought it was an interface problem, but now I realize that the results are terrible as well.

    I’m liking Google less and less each day.

  19. Scott
    Posted October 19, 2010 at 12:27 am | Permalink

    The new tool is pretty much useless, especially when researching niche keywords – it always seems to bring out the broad terms.

    Everyone who reads this post and agrees should leave a comment – hopefully it will start the ball rolling to get the old tool back.

    Once we have enough comments, perhaps we could all e-mail Matt Cutts and try and get him to respond on his blog.

  20. WebBizGeek
    Posted October 19, 2010 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    @Scott: I like your ambition. It would be awesome if we could start a movement. I’d also suggest you post something on the Google forums thread I started on this. That might help.

  21. Posted October 23, 2010 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    Glad to see I’m not alone in this one. Boy was I shocked when I went to use it and the whole layout had changed. I cant make head nor tales of it and I dont think the ranges are correct.

  22. Posted October 23, 2010 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    I have only started trying to build an internet business recently. I did not get a chance to use the old version of the tool. The Google Adwords Tool had been recommended to me but I did not find it very good…now I know why!

  23. Posted January 13, 2011 at 5:23 am | Permalink

    Ha ha.. getting Matt Cutts to reply would be great!

    I’m not a very big fan of the new version either, it beats me why these beta versions have to collectively suck so much. Take Facebook for example – the old model was way better than the one that’s currently on!

  24. Posted September 5, 2011 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    I think I must agree with you on that. There are many missing elements on the new version. How about the accuracy?

  25. Jill
    Posted August 5, 2013 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    Can’t help but agree with you! My first online marketing strategy was to use Google AdWords and it resulted in ZERO sales! After that we started using OpinionAmp as a proactive way to use real customer reviews to market our product online. Now, 90% of our sales comes from OpinionAmp! Once you put the advertising in the hands of your clients, they’ll sell the product for you. You can’t beat online positive reviews – no better advertising than a happy client!

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