By Mal Darwen, Wordtracker Customer Support
The internet has changed dramatically in the last 10 years. The amount of content has grown exponentially, online retail sales are up 5,000% since the year 2000, and SEO has developed from being a 'dark art' into something of a mainstream discipline.
Wordtracker's original Keyword tool was launched in 1999, and since then there have been inevitable changes in not only the way data is presented and interpreted in the subscription tool but also in the free keywords tool at freekeywords.wordtracker.com.
One of the most important changes in the free tool over the past few months has been in the search count. Previously this had been a prediction of the amount of times it was expected that each keyword would be searched globally in the next 24 hours.
When the dataset was updated, and we started presenting data from the past year, it became apparent that it wasn't going to be possible to calculate a reliable predict figure (what had previously been a reasonable estimate now became an unpredictable metric).
The search counts in the free tool (like the subscription version) now represent just under 1% of US search for the past 365 days. That's a year's worth of data, updated every single day. You may think that's a tiny amount, but it's about half a billion searches - which isn't that tiny - and it does give a reasonable representation of search in the US.
Some people might think it's a good idea to multiply Wordtracker's search counts by 100 or more, or to divide by 12 and then multiply by 100 or more, or to add a couple of zeros to the numbers to make them look a bit more like some other keyword tools' results. That's not really safe mathematics, as there's no guarantee that our database has an even split of searches across all niches, so here's what we recommend you do with the search counts:
1 - Look at the relationship between the keywords and how popular they are as compared to each other.
2 - Compare the results with other keyword tools (although if you're using the ones at SEOBook or Digital Point, it's the same data as they use Wordtracker's database). It's worth mentioning here that you can get Google AdWords Keywords search counts in the main Wordtracker Keywords Tool.
3 - Look at the competition for the keywords you're interested in - there are a number of ways to do this, but if you take out a subscription to Wordtracker you'll see that we offer a quick and easy way to get focused competition data on thousands of keywords at a time. You can take a risk-free 7 day trial at www.wordtracker.com/trial. Check it out and see how much more you can get from the full tool.
There's more information about using Wordtrackers search counts and other metrics in Mark Nunney's article in our Academy - www.wordtracker.com/academy/wordtracker-google-seo-win - which discusses the benefits of having multiple keyword sources, and offers some things to think about when you're deciding which keywords to start working with in the wild.