Hey reader! If you landed on this blog it’s probably because you were searching for the same answer that we were looking for when choosing this topic! After using keyword research tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush, and Ubersuggest for over a year, we realized that there are far too many discrepancies amongst them to trust a single tool above all others. Often times one would fluctuate and make us appear to lose major keyword rankings yet our google analytics traffic would not reflect those losses. We know that running your own SEO is hard so we created this article with the purpose of discovering where 3 of the leading tools in SEO data gather their keyword data from, enjoy!
Let me begin by giving you the short answer immediately, Google Keyword Planner. Most of the big names in research tools pull their information from this tool directly using API connections. You can gain access to Google’s tool by creating a Google Ad account and navigating to the tool by clicking the link above. The most accurate data can be pulled through this portal, however the reason why so many pay for tools is that it is difficult to continuously input every word you are looking to track on a consistent basis. Since local SEO is so important, as an SEO expert you would need to search for your keywords in each specific location you would like to pull data from. Another issue or window of opportunity depending on the lens you chose to look through, is that GKP updates it’s keyword information monthly and updates it’s averages annually. Since Google is continuously learning as any great super technology does, it must interpret synonyms and variants which can be counted as in multiple queries. As you can imagine it takes far longer than a few weeks to perfect these search variables. While going directly to Google for information will always be Mad Mango's advice, this still leaves room for an extreme variable in search volume! It was these few aspects of the GKP that allowed the birth of these gargantuan tools to offer better tracking and keyword suggestions related to your search queries.
Ahrefs is one of the most widely used and recommended tools in the SEO game. Their backlink data is by far the most in depth compared to their competitors. Ahrefs offers historical data on backlinks, keyword movement and comprehensive competitors analysis. They are definitely an action packed resource and it is no question why they are a leader in the industry. If we are to trust what they are presenting us we must ask ourselves, how can they possibly be continuously tracking all of this data?
Ahrefs uses something called “ClickStream” which is a 3rd party data source. Clickstream is known as a click path, which is a sequence of hyperlinks and websites a user follows. This data is collected through sites, programs, and plugins when a user enters, downloads or uses the program. This is covered in sites privacy policies or when you swiftly click “accept cookies.”
Ahrefs uses a combination of this clickstream data it collects and cross references it with the Google Keyword Planner’s API in their attempt to provide more accurate search volume data. Ahref claims that this allows them to split variables and synonyms on phrases like “SEO” vs “Search Engine Optimization.” This clickstream data allows Ahrefs to make more accurate assumptions on click through rate estimations.
Read more from Ahrefs here.
When searching for information on Neil Patel's keyword search tool, Uber Suggest, we failed to discover anything provided from the company themselves. Compared to our other two main SEO tools who seemed to be willing and encouraging the transparency of this information. For us, this is not an immediate concern, but certainly something to mention when looking at these tools. We did find a few articles reviewing the software and giving us snippets of answers for the questions we are searching for.
UberSuggest seems to be a good source of data while searching for content ideas and short tail keywords. There is no denying that it is an extremely useful tool while also being one of the simplest, unlike its competitors which takes a bit more of a hands on tutorial approach.
After doing some independent comparisons of our own they seem to pull almost all of their information solely from the Google API and not as much from click-stream data.
According to SEM rush they “use their own machine learning algorithms and trusted data providers to present the data in their databases.” Which is a nice way of saying they also purchase click-stream data as a source for their keyword volume data.
Then, they collect information about the websites that are listed in the top 100 positions. SEM rush does this for both organic and paid traffic. SEMRush claims to be tracking 500 million keywords. They refresh their data on these keywords monthly. The report that they collect data on 200 million+ real users across 190 countries.
SEM employs then their Neural Network Algorithm which will comb through their collected and purchased data to notice trends and make estimates on click-through rates.
Read more from SEM rush here.
Whether you chose one of these 3 big SEO giants in the industry or a smaller competitor, all of the data must be taken with a grain of salt. Our technological universe is ever expanding and it would be a naive assumption to assume that any company would be able to produce 100% accurate information 100% of the time. Once you accept that data from a single source is not law, and that you must take the time to cross examine and compare how data is being reflected in both Google Search Console and Google Analytics, you will be on your way to being an SEO expert! We hope you enjoyed this juicy read from the team here at Mad Mango Marketing. If you are looking for help managing your SEO or would like to share industry insights we are always warm to new connections. Drop us a message here!