Keyword Intelligence – coming up short?

By Dan Thies

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.

  • http://www.mjswebsolutions.com type0

    Hey Dan.

    Thank you so much for your review. It saved me some money. ;-)

  • KeywordIntel

    To clarify the methodology of Keyword Intelligence. If you are looking to compare volumes of keywords between Keyword Intelligence and Overture or Wordtracker’s tools, they will all provide different results as each are based on different data sets and calculate their figures in different ways.

    Keyword Intelligence provides terms based on what has ACTUALLY been searched on AND successfully delivered users to a website. It does NOT include thesaurus or ‘related’ term matching. Therefore comparing word counts between Keyword Intelligence and other keyword tools will show very different numbers because it is comparing apples with oranges. Keyword Intelligence was specifically designed in this way, so that it will show you successful terms over a certain period of time and not muddle the data with many other terms that may or may not be successful.

    The Industry Search Term reports within Keyword Intelligence show keyword searches that resulted in a user visiting a website within a particular industry as classified by Hitwise. While I agree with your point about the types of keywords you would expect in the industry search terms report, the terms reported on are based on what people actually searched for over a 12 week period. An example of this is when someone searches for ‘ipod’ and clicks on ‘www.apple.com’ in the search results. This results in the term ‘ipod’ appearing in the ‘Computers and Internet – Hardware’ industry because the website ‘www.apple.com’ is categorized by Hitwise in this industry.

    I hope this helps to clarify any confusion about the Keyword Intelligence service.

    Best Regards
    Keyword Intelligence

  • michelle

    For your keyword research try using KeywordSpy.com – a keyword research technology that will help you know what keywords your competitors are using and how it generates money for them, you can use those keywords to drive traffic to your site and give your business the exposure it needs. It offers Free trials.- http://www.keywordspy.com/

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