Keyword Intelligence – coming up short?

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Keyword Intelligence is Hitwise’s entry into the ‘budget market’ for keyword research tools. At first glance, it looks promising: Hitwise is a major provider of competitive intelligence information, and their high-end offerings certainly are attractive to online marketers*.

Don’t give up your Wordtracker subscription just yet, though. While Keyword Intelligence does represent a different dataset (based on tracking the surfing habits of approximately 25 million users), different doesn’t necessarily mean better. Because of the way they obtain their data, it’s very skewed toward the consumer end of the market, and even on consumer-type search terms, the data is pretty shallow.

Priced at $89.95 per month for the entry-level product, KWI costs nearly double what Wordtracker and Keyword Discovery ask for a monthly subscription. So, for the extra money, what do you get? Well, you get a couple things that Wordtracker (WT) and Keyword Discovery (KD) don’t offer – country-specific data and industry-specific search terms.

For country-specific data, you can choose from the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore. You get one country at the entry level, then each country costs a little extra. As far as I can tell, this is one of the few options available to those who must have data on search terms used in these specific countries. Wordtracker and Keyword Discovery don’t offer the option to filter based on geography, because they don’t track individual users.

For industry-specific search terms, in theory, Hitwise has categorized a whole lot of websites by industry, and you can subscribe to data from up to 3 industries with an entry-level subscription. Unfortunately, they don’t appear to do anything to clean this data up, and based on the 5 industries I looked at, less than half of the search terms would have any relevance to a company within the industry category. All the industry search term lists were crowded with very general searches, pornography searches (including a lot of things that are illegal in the USA), searches for pop music artists, etc.

Hitwise, unlike WT and KD, does not provide “counts” for search terms, and Hitwise also does not disclose the number of search terms in their database. I have to assume that this is because their data set is much smaller than their competitors. In search after search, we found far more search terms, and far more data on their relative popularity, in WT and KD. For example, researching terms related to “computer camps,” we found 30 terms in the Hitwise data, 47 in Wordtracker, and well over 100 in Keyword Discovery.

Buying access to tools like Keyword Intelligence is something I have to do sometimes, as a writer, teacher, and commentator. Most of the time, I find some marginal utility in a tool that justifies the cost, but this is one tool that I won’t keep.

*Their “search intelligence” service offers insight into the search terms driving traffic to specific websites, and if you have the budget (in excess of $15,000 US per year), it might be worth a look.

Dan ThiesDan Thies
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