Man, Google offers some great keyword research tools.  Why should I use WordStream?

I think you should use our free keyword tool for the same reason I’d suggest using any other keyword tools as an idea generator. The main differentiator between Google’s external tool and our free keyword tool is that ours is a Long Tail Keyword tool – we offer a deeper list of suggestions (up to 10,000 depending on the query you start with). We also tap a variety of different data sets (ISPs, toolbars, and search engines) so there’s a bit more query diversity than what Google has.

Really any keyword tool, even Google’s, is only going to be directionally useful. Google gives me questionable estimates of everything that happens with a given keyword on That doesn’t offer a very actionable picture of:

  • What type of traffic I can reasonably expect
  • How difficult it will be to generate that traffic
  • Or what that traffic will do once it reaches my site (which is really the most important piece of the puzzle, ultimately)

So I’d say use a lot of different keyword idea generators: free keyword tools, surveys, your clients if you’re a consultant; really whatever you can get your hands on. I’m a big believer in generating a huge list of possible keyword targets. I’m also a big believer in the idea keyword tools are only the beginning. In order to truly measure ROI from keyword research you must continuously expand, refine , and then monitor performance to see how your customers respond.

Please talk about your two new free tools and how they will benefit search marketers.

I’m really excited about these: I think The Free Keyword Niche Finder is actually a lot more interesting than The Free Keyword Tool we launched in September, honestly. Basically it adds a layer of functionality. Where The Free Keyword Tool (like most keyword tools) just outputs a big list of results, The Free Keyword Niche Finder generates the same list, but then tries to makes sense of those results by performing some advanced  keyword analysis. Let’s compare the results of the same query on a couple of tools.

Here is the list of results for a search on “camera bag” from our Free Keyword Tool:


Now let’s look at the results for the same “camera bag” topic using The Free Keyword Niche Finder:


The interesting thing here is the difference in the way that the two tools function. The Free Keyword Tool looks at the Relative Volume of results across a variety of sources (ISPs, search engines, and toolbars). The Free Keyword Niche Finder, meanwhile, takes the same data that The Free Keyword Tool is using (our own database) and then analyzes and clusters that information semantically – essentially classifying keywords according to intent.

If we dig in deeper, we see that the aggregated keyword niches are more centered around brands. Take for example the “camera bags – lowepro” cluster, which shows how model names and numbers account for the tail for brands being longer:

So while “camera bag” is a more popular single query than “lowepro camera bag”, the sum of the camera bag keyword niche is actually greater, and it contains more specific, buy-focused terms of greater intent. Looking at the data side-by-side, it definitely appears that “lowepro camera bag” is a more profitable keyword niche to attack.

 Please talk about your subscription based service and how it enhances information presented in website analytics.

Web Analytics software delivers valuable insight for keyword research, but there are at least 2 major shortcomings, at least as far as keyword research is concerned:

  • Keyword Data from Web analytics data isn’t immediately actionable — The hard part comes in making your Keyword Report information actionable. To act on keyword referral data, it needs to be analyzed, organized, etc.
  • Web analytics is backwards-looking – It reveals to you how people have found your site in the past, and the outcomes associated with historical sessions, but it doesn’t necessarily tell you what pockets of opportunities might be important for you in the future, or what you might be missing out on right now.

WordStream is unique in that it addresses both of these limitations.

  • It combines both Keyword Suggestion tools with Analytics data; thus, the past is known through analytics integration, and the future is guestimated with various keyword tools, competitive intelligence, and a fresh stream of keywords generated from your own Web site analytics data.
  • It’s a Keyword Research workbench – We provide powerful integrated tools to help you research and make sense of your keywords– you can analyze, edit, delete, filter, organize and seamlessly act on the data (for example, you can turn keywords into ad groups!).

Please talk about how WordStream gathers its data.

WordStream continuously updates a huge keyword database representing over a trillion search queries using keyword search data through industry partnerships with:

  • ISPs
  • Browser Toolbars
  • Search Engines

Then we apply sophisticated statistical models to aggregate the different keyword data sets, applying different weightings so the keyword suggestions aren’t overly biased toward one particular source, and apply powerful semantic and mapping algorithms to compute related terms and keyword niches.

 I’ve dealt with search marketing clients who have told me that previous search marketing vendors have exported long lists of keywords into a spreadsheet for them and call that “keyword research”.  Please describe why “keyword research” is a much more refined and detailed process than what I just described.

Dumping a keyword list into Microsoft Excel and calling that keyword research isn’t a great strategy because it fails on so many fronts. Effective keyword research for paid and organic research must be:

  • Dynamic – If people are actually finding and converting using certain keywords on your Web site, you better add them to your keyword research! Do this every day.
  • Easy to Maintain & Update – Microsoft Excel is like concrete. Say you’ve organized your keyword list in different worksheets or columns in Excel. Now say you have discovered 1000 new keyword opportunities – How do you update your research?
  • Comprehensive – You need to pull in keyword data from as many different sources as possible – keyword suggestion tools, competitive tools, your own Web analytics, etc.
  • Structured – It’s critical that you break-up and organize your keyword research into categories and sub-categories. A little organization will help you better understand your keyword research and will improve your results, too.
  • Scalable & collaborative – We have customers effectively managing millions of keywords in a collaborative way using WordStream. Trying to do this in Excel is a path to madness.
  • Actionable – The point of doing keyword research is to do something with it, like build or optimize your PPC and SEO campaigns.

The WordStream keyword management solutions were built with these precise goals in mind. Hence the tool offers a dynamic, actionable keyword database with “out-of-the-box” features that enable ongoing keyword discovery, organization, maintenance and collaboration. We have a lot of free keyword tools, and you can also sign up for a free trial of our non-free, premium keyword management offerings.

About Larry

Larry is the Founder and VP of Products for WordStream. You can contact him through twitter or on the WordStream Internet Marketing Blog. Larry lives in Cambridge, MA.


3 thoughts on “Not Just Another Tool: My Interview With WordStream’s Larry Kim

  1. I’ve really enjoyed “playing around” with WordStream, and it’s time to step it up to a higher level of analysis/prediction of future behavior. I love the semantic buckets of the NicheFinder!

    I appreciate Larry explaining the need for different data sets. Many marketers prefer to “simplify” efforts by using one source – Google – wish it was that simple. Query diversity is paramount. Aside from common belief, Google doesn’t have all the data!

    Analysis and strategy are key. Larry explains why the process of keyword discovery is so time-consuming and ongoing. Too many of us hear, “I already did keyword research” as if it were a one-time item on a checkoff list. Good explanation of how WordStream is more than data but a collaborative tool.

    Nice interview, Todd!
    .-= Dana Lookadoo´s last blog ..Communication & Planning: A Dental Client =-.

  2. What do you guys think about iSpionage keyword tool? I am using it for some time now and i think it’s great. It generates lost of keyword ideas, both long tail and short tail, performs in-depth analyzes, it has cleaning feature, grouping feature and a PPC campaign builder, all-in-one. The information it provides is huge: competitors along with their keywords, searched volume, competitors’ interest, number of competitors. It makes the choice a lot easier. The other tool they have, competitive intelligence is also awesome. Why don’t you give it a try on their website, it’s free to test, and share an opinion. Would be great! Cheers!

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