Another week, another Friday, and Google is doing what Google does best – giving the search marketing community something to whine about. Google has taken the "new" keyword tool out of beta and retired the previous versions, the new tool now being the only tool there is.
Google claims the new version offers more flexible search options and easier keyword refinement; in addition, users can now view statistics for mobile search. If search volumes look different to you, that's because the old tool shows stats for search partners, and the new tool only shows stats for searches conducted on Google.com.
However, a lot of advertisers had been ignoring the existence of the new tool, preferring to stick with the old UI. Robbed of that option, many aren't too happy about it. Patrick Altoft of Blogstorm says "The New Google Keyword Tool Is Terrible ." Though it's surely not an exhaustive list, these are the things Patrick "hates most" about the new tool:
- You have to fill in a captcha every time you load up the tool
- There is no longer an option to just show search volumes for the keywords you enter into the box
- Ticking the box to just show match type “Exact” has no effect and the tool still shows broad & phrase matches
Commenters supply further complaints, including:
- Keywords aren't saved if you conduct a second search; you have to export every time
- Lower-quality mid- and long-tail keyword suggestions
- Keywords are now exported in a zip file and must be saved rather than opened directly
In a post called "R.I.P Google Keyword Tool. Long Live SEO! " Marty Weintraub lists his own complaints about the new tool, which he says has offered obviously "degraded results over the last few weeks." Marty writes:
- "Google has decided marketers should no longer have easy access to the long, or even mid tail data (search inventory), unless the keyword has demonstrated 'commercial' characteristics historically."
- "Does this mean that big G’s KW tool is no longer reliable for SEO? We think yes."
- "Unless we want to subscribe (in resignation) to Google’s dumb-ass shortening of the known language universe, this tool borders on useless."
Kyle Blake Allred  also writes that the new tool "sucks": It's "not nearly as intuitive. Easier = Better – ALWAYS!" However, he later updated the post and said that while it could be "more user-friendly," it's "not so bad after all." (Like most humans, search marketers fear change.)
Paula Keller of Search Influence  is skeptical about Google's claim that it changed the scope of statistics based on user feedback:
User feedback showed they wanted less data instead of more data? While many SEOs, myself included, tend to use Google as the tool by which we measure all, I still don’t want to ignore the other engines. In addition, as with any research, I’d rather have data coming from a larger sample than a smaller sample, so we can get a bigger piece of the pie.
According to commenters, the new tool is:
- "frustrating and a step backwards"
- "a million times" worse than the old version
A content writer on Warrior Forum says "The Verdict Is In … New Google Keyword Tool Is Worthless ": "I might as well use Wordtracker for all the good this piece of crap is." In an informal poll with 25 respondents, 7 agreed the tool was worthless, and another 6 found it "poor," but 12 found it fair, good, or great. So perhaps the verdict isn't quite in.
Paul Burani, for instance, finds five reasons why the new tool is better . Burani prefers the cleaner data without search network partners included; he also likes the mobile stats and new data filters. But commenters pointed out Yet More Problems:
- "On the old interface when you did a search with synonyms checked, it brought back the results in groups. In the first group it showed all the highly relevant, related search terms. This made it really easy to export those keywords, and continue your search for keywords. In the new tool, it brings back all those groupings of keywords into the same list, making it very difficult to pick out the relevant keywords, and therefore find good, relevant keywords that you hadn't thought of. It would be great if Google went back to this grouping method to help us find the most relevant keywords, and new keywords ideas."
- "The new tool is terrible...not only do the filters not work ie I can no longer export just exact match keywords as they are all getting jumbled together with broad and phrase, but I also can no longer import a list of keywords that i care about and expect to get just those keywords and corresponding data back."
- "The biggest reason I hate it, is because of the new interface. Old interface > new interface by a mile"
Unsubstantiated rumor alert: A little birdie told me that the response to the new tool at SMX East was so negative, Google was telling people they plan to roll it back.
So what do you think of the new Google keyword tool? I'd tell you what I think, but honestly I haven't used either version in months. Why would I, when we have our own free keyword tool right here? :)
Internet Marketing Highlights This Week
Marketing Pilgrim comments on a study from the Jones School of Business at Rice University (shout-out to my alma mater!) revealing that 40% of merchants who participated in a Groupon deal wouldn't do it again . Restaurants seem to get shafted the most on these deals; respondents claimed "poor tips, too many customers" and "angry customers" were some of the problems.
ClickZ points to some corporate blogs that are getting it right , including MintLife and Adobe.
Google has begun testing a major change to its search results: full-page previews . I haven't seen this in action yet, but it could potentially be extremely useful to searchers – and make your website's layout and design even more important for SEO.
More Google! The CNNMoney blog says the company's next major revenue stream is Android .
SEOmoz offers six technical tips for better traffic and rankings , including leveraging reviews beyond the product page and optimizing your homepage title for the SERP.
The SuccessWorks blog explains how to blend persuasive sales copy with optimization  for more "ka-ching."
Garrett and Ben at Ontolo have put together a 12-video demo tour of their link-building toolset .
Barry Schwartz confirms that Bing uses click-through rate as a ranking factor  in its algorithm.
Have a good weekend!