Why You Shouldn’t Use Keyword Research Tools

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Finding the right keywords to target is one of the first things marketers do when we have to write content. Most marketers use a keyword research tool for content marketing, blogging, or PPC.

The famous on-page plugins let you optimize your blog posts for a single focus keyword. But if you check your analytics tool, you’ll notice that pages rank for several related keywords – and even unrelated keywords.

Here’s why you shouldn’t use keyword research tools.

1. Search Intent Is Ignored

Search intent or user intent describes the purpose of an online search. The goal that a searcher wants to achieve when typing a search query is the intent, and this is not measured by keyword research tools.

A user is more likely to click a search result that addresses the core needs, but keyword research tools do not root this out. For example, someone who runs a query for [content marketing] could be interested in a content marketing definition or guide, content marketing examples, content marketing certification, hiring a content marketing agency, or something else:

content marketing Google search

The pages that don’t fulfill the search intent won’t be clicked or, if clicked, will lead to a bad user experience and high bounce rate. Keyword research tools don’t give you any information about what a searcher is looking for. This is what makes keyword research tools the least effective at addressing search intent.

Google emphasizes focusing on search intent throughout the marketing funnel instead of mere keywords. When you use a keyword research tool, it will show you keywords (lots of them), but it won’t help you optimize your content for search intent.

The keyword research tool will show you a list of several related keywords, but it won’t tell you what you need to cover in the post, how to craft it, and what to write to fulfill search intent.

Google continues to update its algorithm to focus on search intent. Going back to 2013 with the Hummingbird update, Google has been focused on search intent:

Google Hummingbird Update
Image Credit: Mangools

Today, the focus is on quality content that speaks for itself.

Keyword research tools persuade you to add relevant keywords throughout your content by reinforcing how essential keywords are. This leads keyword stuffing.

Keyword-focused content might work well for search engines, but it isn’t user friendly. Imagine a world where more than 4 million new blog posts are published every single day. You need to outperform your competitors to engage readers. You can’t do it with mediocre content.

The content marketing techniques like Skyscraper and 10x content emphasize writing content that is far better than existing content on the topic. These techniques focus more on content quality than on keywords.

Content quality is crucial and it’s something that you can’t get via keyword research tools.

2. No Competitive Advantage

Using a keyword research tool doesn’t give you any competitive advantage.

Why?

Because your competitors have access to the same tools. They see the same keywords, they try to rank for the same keywords, and it’s the same list of keywords that everyone in your niche has access to.

Of course, it depends on how you use the tool. You might be using it to its full capacity and you might know a few hacks, but you don’t own the tool or hacks.

At the end of the day, the keywords you are targeting are accessible to your competitors.

Your keywords and backlinks can be imitated and aren’t your competitive advantage. Amazing content is more difficult to copy. Brand authority, credibility, and reputation are your competitive advantage that you must focus on.

Investing in a tool that helps your business achieve competitive advantage seems to be a logical idea as compared to spending money on a keyword research tool that shows the same list of keywords to all its users.

3. Lack of Prediction

Keyword research tools show you keywords but don’t show you how targeting this keyword will impact your business. The tool shows you historical data but lacks prediction.

For example, if you are targeting a low competition keyword, there is no guarantee if you’ll rank for it ever. And if you rank for it, you might have a high bounce rate (poor search intent).

Ubersuggest shows you the average number of backlinks and domain score of the ranking pages:

Ubersuggest Search Intent
Image Credit: Ubersuggest

Similarly, other keyword research tools give you an overview of the top-ranking pages and their backlinks so that you can replicate the same.

In reality, nobody knows if having more backlinks and a high domain score will push your webpage to the top. There are over 200 Google ranking factors so it is hard to forecast rankings and traffic estimation.

Domain age is an important ranking factor that is often ignored by keyword research tools. It is extremely hard to outrank an aged webpage and this is a factor that isn’t given due importance by research tools. They just show you the keywords, its competition, estimated traffic, top-ranking pages, and other metrics. This doesn’t help you predict if targeting a keyword will drive any traffic to your website.

4. Limited Data

Leading keyword research tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush, Moz, and others have databases of crawled websites. They don’t crawl the internet in real-time.

Ahrefs states that it takes up to 2 months to complete an index. Pages are updated based on their domain rating where pages with high domain rating are updated more frequently:

Ahrefs database update help article

SEMrush completes its keyword update cycle in a period of 30 days. It has 160 million keywords in its database that it keeps replacing based on search volume:

SEMrush Keyword Database Infographic
Image Source: SEMrush

Moz recrawls its database of high-quality pages at least once every 90 days.

This means your keyword research tool is showing you keyword data that is months old. This leads to two problems:

  1. Inaccurate keyword result. When more than 4 million new blog posts are published every single day, it is risky to rely on old data that doesn’t include millions of blog posts.
  2. Keyword research tools are not time-sensitive. If you are in the politics niche, you can’t rely on a keyword research tool to find keywords. Time-sensitive new trends can’t be found accurately with these tools.

Not to mention, the keyword research tools have their own databases that are limited. They don’t crawl and index everything on the internet. Even if the keyword research tool updates its database daily, you’ll still be missing out on some results.

What You Should Do?

It is time to focus your effort on understanding search intent and developing quality content. You need to make sense of the keywords you are targeting by putting yourself in the searcher’s shoes.

Find the purpose of the search query and come up with a solution.

The Google featured snippet and ‘People also ask’ are the two best places to identify search intent for any keyword. The text in the featured snippet is highly relevant and often adheres to the search intent.

Once you know the search intent, write content that delivers big time. The content needs to be relevant to the search intent without any keyword stuffing. This will significantly increase average session duration and conversion rate.

Let’s focus on search intent instead of keywords.

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