Moz Keyword Explorer vs. Google Keyword Planner: The Definitive Comparison

Posted by BritneyMuller

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Keyword research, the blueprint to any successful SEO strategy

If you’ve been doing keyword research for a while, you’ve probably fallen into a routine. And that routine has likely been recently disrupted… thanks, Google.

If you’re new to keyword research, getting comfortable with new keyword research tools will come more easily to you. Lucky pups. But us change-averse old dogs can still learn new tricks when we need to. Are you ready to see which tool is right for you? –Woof.

My hesitations about writing this article:

  • I’m new to Moz and don’t want to be crucified for criticizing our own keyword research tool. This concern has only been met with acceptance and encouragement, so…*fingers crossed* they don’t change their minds. Love you guys!
  • My methods of keyword research revolve around finding qualified traffic for increasing conversions, not just any large search volume numbers (to make traffic look good).
  • I fear that this will come across as a Moz Keyword Explorer soft sell. It’s not. It’s a very honest comparison of Moz Keyword Explorer versus Google’s Keyword Planner. It’s a post that I’ve been wanting to read for a while.

Here are some great guides if you need a Moz Keyword Explorer refresher, or a Google Keyword Planner refresher.

< << TL;DR Skip to the conclusion here >> >

Google Keyword Planner’s recent change

Any habits we’ve held onto with Google Keyword Planner were disrupted early September when they decided to stop providing average monthly search volume data (unless you’re in that special group of higher-paying ad buyers who can still access the more precise search volume data). Instead, we now see huge swings of min-max search volume, which really starts to muddy the keyword research waters. Google recently came forward to explain that this change was done to deter scrapers from pulling their search volume data.

For a more comprehensive write-up on this change, read Google Keyword Unplanner by Russ Jones. He explains a little more about how this change affects various data sources and what Moz has been doing to mitigate the impact.

But, showing is better than telling. So let’s take a look for ourselves:

Screen Shot 2016-10-19 at 9.07.27 AM.png

A 900,000 average monthly search volume swing is crazy! In fact, Google now only provides one of seven volume sizes: 0–10, 10–100, 100–1000, 1000–10000, 10000–100k, 100k–1MM and 1MM+.

Moz’s Keyword Explorer also gives ranges, but they’re not nearly as vast (or as arbitrary). The machine-learning model behind Keyword Explorer is designed to predict monthly fluctuations in search volume. It’s mathematically tied to the most accurate keyword data available, and you can see exactly how, and how accurate Moz gets in this Clickstream Data to the Rescue article.

Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 10.04.36 AM.png

Which is why I wanted to know:

http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

What are quality keywords?

Quality keywords successfully target your demographic during their acquisition phase (education – purchase), have a specific searcher intent, low-medium organic competition, and medium-high search volume (this will vary based on what part of the acquisition funnel you’re targeting).

However, it’s important to keep in mind that some longer-tail queries (with little to no search volume) can be highly profitable as well.


Tier 1 keyword research setup

Google Keyword Planner:

This is my familiar ol, kooky friend that has been acting very strange lately (anyone else noticing all of the delays and glitches?). I’m a little worried.

Anywho, here’s how I begin keyword research within Keyword Planner:

keyword-planner.gif

  1. Enter in your keyword under “Search for more keywords using a phrase, website or category.”
  2. Make sure the region is set to United States (if wanting to research nationally).
  3. Set keyword options to “broad.” –Settle down, we’ll go back and change this to “closely related” after our first swoop.
  4. Sort keyword volume by highest to lowest and change the “show rows” to 100.
  5. IMPORTANT: Always scroll top to bottom! Otherwise, new keywords will populate from the bottom that you’ll miss.
  6. Select keywords with unique intents as you scroll down the first 100 rows, click “next,” and start again from the top until through all keyword results.

Moz Keyword Explorer:

My hip new friend that I’m not sure I can trust just yet. However, multiple trusted friends vouch for her integrity and… I really dig her style.

Here’s how I begin keyword research within Keyword Explorer:

keyword-explorer.gif

  1. Enter your keyword into the Keyword Explorer search bar.
  2. Navigate to “Keyword Suggestions” on the left-hand menu.
  3. Set “Display keyword suggestions that” to “include a mix of sources.”
  4. Set “Group Keywords” to “no.”
  5. Sort keyword list by highest search volume to lowest.
  6. Scroll down and select keywords with unique searcher intent.

Either way, this will give you one giant list of 1,000 keywords, which can be tough to pace through (compared to the 100 keyword chunks in GKP). A progress bar of sorts would be nice.

The thing that’s taken the most getting used to is not seeing a competition/difficulty metric adjacent to the search volume. The whole goal of keyword research is to discover opportunity gaps that offer mid-to-high search volume with low competition. If you’re anything like me, you’ve ran hundreds if not thousands of strange SEO tests and are very aware of what you can achieve “competition”-wise (domain-dependent) and what you can’t. (Or when a higher-competition keyword should take the form of a longer SEO plan.)

*It’s important to note that the KWP “Competition” metric is an advertising metric.

Despite this metric occasionally leading to an SEO correlation, it’s often misleading and not an accurate representation of how competitive the organic results are.

The KWE “Difficulty” metric, on the other hand, is an organic search metric. It also leverages a smarter CTR curve model to show when weaker pages are ranking higher (in addition to other ranking signals).

That being said, having to wait to find out the competition metric of a keyword until after I add it to a list is frustrating. I can’t help but feel that I’m not selecting keywords as strategically as I could be. Hopefully, Moz will add a historical competition metric up front (adjacent to search volume) sometime in the near future to help us better select ripe keyword opportunities.

The relevancy metric doesn’t do much to help my research because I’m already relying on the keywords themselves to tell me whether or not they’re relevant/have a unique user intent.

(I told you guys I would be honest!)

Label by keyword type:

Navigational: Searchers seeking a destination on the web.

Example: “University of Minnesota tuition”

Informational: Searchers researching, getting quick answers, often times using what, who, where, how, etc. modifiers.

Example: “what is a conker”

Commercial Investigation: Searchers investigating beyond an informational query. Comparing brands, searching for “best,” researching potential clients, etc.

Example: “ppc experts in london”

Transactional: Searchers looking to purchase something, comparing rates, seeking prices for things, etc.

Example: “affordable yoda action figure”

Transactional and Commercial Investigation types tend to be most profitable (depending on business model). For example, a blog could do very well from Informational-type keywords.

If you want a more in-depth understanding of keyword types; read Rand’s Segmenting Search Intent. <– An oldie, but a goodie!!

Compare results & answer:

  • Which tool provided better long-tail results?
  • Which tool provided better top-of-funnel queries?
  • What percentage of “keyword types” did each tool provide?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of each tool?

For whatever reason, “student loans” painted an accurate picture (of what I’ve found to be true across other competitive keywords) for each prospective tools’ wheelhouse. So, “student loans” will serve as our point of reference throughout this comparative analysis.


Tier 1 keyword research overview:

Moz Keyword Explorer Google Keyword Planner
Term: “student loans” “student loans”
Region: United States United States
Spectrum: Include a mix of sources Broad
Group Keywords: No
Total Results: 1000 700
#Keywords With Intents: 43 40


+ Moz Keyword Explorer results:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/15pd9Yb12mMLNAkqdciLsHsxp4fuAmbwPP6tFbd6qsbg/pubchart?oid=362327484&format=interactive

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/15pd9Yb12mMLNAkqdciLsHsxp4fuAmbwPP6tFbd6qsbg/pubchart?oid=1735214237&format=interactive

Keyword Modifier Type Min Volume Max Volume Difficulty Opportunity Importance Potential
student loan consolidation consolidation Commercial Investigation 11501 30300 60 83 3 79
student loan calculator calculator Informational 11501 30300 75 100 3 76
student loan Informational 118001 300000 82 84 3 82
federal student loan federal Navigational 30301 70800 63 48 3 76
student loan refinance refinance Commercial Investigation 11501 30300 55 83 3 77
student loan repayment calculator repayment calculator Informational 11501 30300 67 100 3 74
student loan interest rates interest rates Commercial Investigation 6501 9300 53 54 3 69
student loan hero hero Navigational 1701 2900 49 19 3 53
student loan forgiveness forgiveness Commercial Investigation 70801 118000 62 86 3 86
student loans information information Informational 501 850 90 55 3 39
applying for student loans applying for Informational 4301 6500 72 55 3 60
fafsa student loans fafsa Navigational 2901 4300 98 56 3 28
bad credit student loan bad credit Commercial Investigation 1701 2900 44 83 3 70
student loan websites websites Commercial Investigation 851 1700 79 53 3 48
where to get student loan where to get Informational 501 850 76 55 3 47
citibank student loans pay citibank pay Navigational 201 500 29 94 3 64
how to get a school loan how to get a Informational 201 500 68 55 3 45
how to find my student loans how to find my Navigational 101 200 54 58 3 48
how to check student loans how to check Navigational 101 200 63 55 3 45
discover private student loan discover private Navigational 101 200 53 21 3 36
check my student loan balance check my balance Navigational 101 200 55 100 3 52
apply for student loan online apply for online Transactional 101 200 68 53 3 41
look up student loans look up Commercial Investigation 101 200 53 90 3 51
student loan now now Transactional 51 100 72 86 3 42
stafford student loans login stafford login Navigational 51 100 76 60 3 36
federal student loan lookup federal lookup Navigational 11 50 55 100 3 46
how to view my student loans how to view my Informational 11 50 57 64 3 39
how do i find out who has my student loan how do i find out who has my Informational 11 50 59 86 3 42
apply for additional student loans apply for additional Commercial Investigation 11 50 73 64 3 34
what student loans do i owe what do i owe Informational 11 50 50 41 3 34
student loan application status application status Navigational 0 10 72 100 3 33
what is federal student loans what is federal Informational 0 10 78 58 3 25
who services federal student loans who services federal Informational 0 10 68 100 3 22
apply for student loan by phone apply for by phone Transactional 0 10 86 86 3 11
national student loan locator phone number national locator phone number Informational 0 0 58 29 3 11
i owe student loans who do i call i owe who do i call Informational 0 0 50 94 3 26
where do i find my student loan interest where do i find my interest Informational 0 0 78 58 3 11
how to find my student loan account number how to find my account number Informational 0 0 55 100 3 25
how much federal student loans do i have how much federal do i have Navigational 0 0 80 46 3 8
where do i pay my government student loans where do i pay my government Navigational 0 0 77 55 3 11
student loans lookup lookup Navigational 0 0 55 100 3 26
student loans payment history payment history Navigational 0 0 66 46 3 14
how many school loans do i have how many do i have Navigational 0 0 68 90 3 21

Additional tool features:

The Importance metric: …is powerful! However, I’ve left all my results at a neutral Importance (3) so you can see downloaded results without any customization (and to keep things fair, because I’m not prioritizing GKP keywords).

If you choose to use this metric, you set a priority level for each keyword (1=not important, 10=most important) that will then influence the keyword’s Potential score. This allows you to more easily prioritize a keyword plan, which is very helpful.

keyword-importance.gif

Group keywords with low lexical similarity: While this can save you time, it can also lead to missing keyword opportunities. In my example below, if I select “student loans” (and not “Select 821 keywords in group”), I would miss all of the nested keywords.

Use this feature carefully:

group-keywords.gif


+ Google Keyword Planner results:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/15pd9Yb12mMLNAkqdciLsHsxp4fuAmbwPP6tFbd6qsbg/pubchart?oid=377512771&format=interactive

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/15pd9Yb12mMLNAkqdciLsHsxp4fuAmbwPP6tFbd6qsbg/pubchart?oid=1714264462&format=interactive

Keyword Modifier Type Avg. Monthly Searches (exact match only) Competition Suggested Bid
student loan forgiveness forgiveness Commercial Investigation 100K – 1M 0.58 3.38
student loan refinance refinance Commercial Investigation 10K – 100K 0.96 34.57
student loan consolidation consolidation Commercial Investigation 10K – 100K 0.98 22.52
private student loans private Commercial Investigation 10K – 100K 0.99 28.51
student loans without a cosigner without a cosigner Commercial Investigation 1K – 10K 0.98 23.85
parent student loans parent Commercial Investigation 1K – 10K 0.96 10.27
best private student loans best private Commercial Investigation 1K – 10K 0.93 21.33
bad credit student loans bad credit Commercial Investigation 1K – 10K 0.97 4.02
best student loans best Commercial Investigation 1K – 10K 0.93 18.61
compare student loans compare Commercial Investigation 100 – 1K 0.98 23.8
medical student loans medical Commercial Investigation 100 – 1K 0.91 10.16
student loans from banks from banks Commercial Investigation 100 – 1K 0.97 13.09
student loans for international students for international students Commercial Investigation 100 – 1K 0.88 14.01
no credit check student loans no credit check Commercial Investigation 100 – 1K 0.98 5.74
nursing student loans nursing Commercial Investigation 100 – 1K 0.94 15.53
alternative student loan options alternative options Commercial Investigation 10 – 100 1 30.32
best student loan consolidation program best consolidation program Commercial Investigation 10 – 100 0.91 36.91
student loan bankruptcy bankruptcy Commercial Investigation 1K – 10K 0.42 9.48
student loan deferment deferment Commercial Investigation 1K – 10K 0.35 10.31
student loans Informational 100K – 1M 0.98 25.97
student loan calculator calculator Informational 10K – 100K 0.42 5.41
types of student loans types of Informational 1K – 10K 0.82 13.61
student loan options options Informational 1K – 10K 0.99 23.63
how to consolidate student loans how to consolidate Informational 1K – 10K 0.84 13.79
student loan default default Informational 1K – 10K 0.28 8.18
student loan help help Informational 1K – 10K 0.96 15.48
where to get student loans where to get Informational 100 – 1K 0.97 17.19
average student loan average Informational 100 – 1K 0.33 18.59
private education loans private Informational 100 – 1K 0.98 16.76
what is a student loan what is Informational 100 – 1K 0.6 8.75
how do you get a student loan how do you get Informational 100 – 1K 0.94 5.22
no credit student loans no credit Informational 100 – 1K 0.98 7.85
about student loans about Informational 10 – 100 0.92 14.9
information on student loans information Informational 10 – 100 0.94 14.08
iowa student loan iowa Navigational 10K – 100K 0.23 9.08
great lakes student loans great lakes Navigational 10K – 100K 0.18 7.05
fafsa student loans fafsa Navigational 1K – 10K 0.61 7.41
student loan interest rates interest rates Transactional 1K – 10K 0.7 10.11
low interest student loans low interest Transactional 100 – 1K 0.98 21.07
need student loan today need today Transactional 10 – 100 1 9.8
i need a student loan now i need now Transactional 10 – 100 0.99 13.7

Tier 1 conclusion:

Google Keyword Planner largely uncovered Commercial Investigation and Informational queries. GKP also better identified a broader set of top-of-funnel keyword opportunities: student loan help, parent student loans, types of student loans, etc.

Moz Keyword Explorer largely uncovered Informational and Navigational queries. MKE better identified longer-tail keyword opportunities: how to get a school loan, apply for student loan online, apply for student loan by phone, etc.


Tier 2 keyword research setup

“closely related search terms” vs. “only include keywords with all of the query terms”

keyword-planner-closely.gif

Google Keyword Planner: Perform same setup, but select “Only show ideas closely related to my search terms.”

keyword-explorer-include.gif

Moz Keyword Explorer: Perform same setup, but select “only include keywords with all of the query terms.”

Note: Your .csv download will still say “Broad” for Google Keyword Planner, even though you’ve selected “Closely related”… Told you she was acting funny.


Tier 2 keyword research overview:

Moz Keyword Explorer Google Keyword Planner
Term: “student loans” “student loans”
Region: United States United States
Spectrum: Only include keywords with all of the query terms Closely related
Group Keywords: No
Total Results: 1000 700
#Keywords With Intents: 66 30


+ Moz Keyword Explorer results:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/15pd9Yb12mMLNAkqdciLsHsxp4fuAmbwPP6tFbd6qsbg/pubchart?oid=1160046084&format=interactive

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/15pd9Yb12mMLNAkqdciLsHsxp4fuAmbwPP6tFbd6qsbg/pubchart?oid=1584580032&format=interactive

Keyword Modifier Type Min Volume Max Volume Difficulty Opportunity Importance Potential
student loan Informational 118001 300000 82 84 3 82
student loan forgiveness forgiveness Commercial Investigation 70801 118000 62 86 3 86
student loan calculator calculator Commercial Investigation 11501 30300 75 100 3 76
citi student loan citi Navigational 11501 30300 34 94 3 86
student loan consolidation consolidation Commercial Investigation 11501 30300 60 83 3 79
private student loan loan Commercial Investigation 11501 30300 62 80 3 77
student loan refinance refinance Commercial Investigation 11501 30300 55 83 3 77
student loan repayment calculator repayment calculator Commercial Investigation 11501 30300 67 100 3 74
student loan interest rates interest rates Transactional 6501 9300 53 54 3 69
application for student loan application for Commercial Investigation 4301 6500 64 54 3 63
apply for student loan apply for Commercial Investigation 4301 6500 60 53 3 64
student loan forgiveness for teachers forgiveness for teachers Commercial Investigation 4301 6500 58 100 3 71
bad credit student loan bad credit Commercial Investigation 1701 2900 44 83 3 70
student loan hero hero Navigational 1701 2900 49 19 3 53
student loan servicing servicing Commercial Investigation 1701 2900 70 90 3 62
discovery student loan discovery Navigational 851 1700 47 28 3 51
fsa student loan fsa Navigational 851 1700 90 58 3 41
student loan providers providers Commercial Investigation 501 850 66 53 3 51
where to get student loan where to get Informational 501 850 76 55 3 47
check student loan balance check balance Navigational 201 500 54 46 3 49
department of education student loan servicing center department of education servicing center Navigational 201 500 78 58 3 42
student loan status status Navigational 201 500 61 86 3 54
us student loan debt us debt Informational 201 500 66 56 3 49
all student loan all Informational 101 200 58 56 3 45
discover private student loan discover private Navigational 101 200 53 21 3 36
how do i find my student loan how do i find my interest Informational 101 200 59 86 3 51
student loan management management Commercial Investigation 101 200 57 53 3 45
student loan resources resources Commercial Investigation 101 200 49 83 3 52
where is my student loan where is Informational 51 100 61 55 3 42
student loan corporation citibank corporation citibank Navigational 11 50 36 94 3 45
student loan enquiries enquiries Commercial Investigation 11 50 61 100 3 43
fafsa student loan consolidation fafsa consolidation Navigational 11 50 99 53 3 1
federal student loan options federal options Commercial Investigation 11 50 75 54 3 34
federal student loan terms federal terms Commercial Investigation 11 50 81 90 3 31
get a student loan today get a today Transactional 11 50 66 83 3 41
need student loan now need now Transactional 11 50 71 83 3 37
student loan overview overview Informational 11 50 79 94 3 35
student loan payment history payment history Navigational 11 50 55 100 3 46
student loan website down website down Informational 11 50 42 90 3 44
apply for student loan by phone apply for by phone Commercial Investigation 0 10 86 86 3 11
apply online for student loan apply online for Commercial Investigation 0 10 68 53 3 28
citibank student loan promotional code citibank promotional code Navigational 0 10 38 94 3 28
student loan corporation sallie mae corporation sallie mae Commercial Investigation 0 10 63 100 3 23
dsl student loan dsl Navigational 0 10 51 90 3 38
how do i take out a federal student loan how do i take out a federal Informational 0 10 80 55 3 22
how to pay student loan online how to pay online Informational 0 10 52 55 3 32
student loan management app management app Commercial Investigation 0 10 43 83 3 26
my student loan account number my account number Informational 0 10 65 64 3 18
student loan servicing center pennsylvania servicing center pennsylvania Navigational 0 10 52 88 3 38
where to pay my student loan where to pay my Informational 0 10 68 100 3 22
student loan counseling center counseling center Commercial Investigation 0 0 58 83 3 23
deadline for student loan application deadline for application Informational 0 0 68 60 3 16
educated borrower student loan educated borrower Commercial Investigation 0 0 54 83 3 24
get subsidized student loan get subsidized Commercial Investigation 0 0 64 90 3 22
how do i find my student loan account number how do i find my account number Informational 0 0 55 100 3 26
how much student loan can i have how much can i have Informational 0 0 71 55 3 14
how to check the status of a student loan from direct loans how to check the status of a Informational 0 0 86 90 3 11
how to find out who is my student loan lender how to find out who is my lender Informational 0 0 60 60 3 19
how to get your student loan money how to get your money Informational 0 0 39 56 3 22
student loan information eligibility information eligibility Commercial Investigation 0 0 85 86 3 11
is financial aid a student loan is financial aid a Informational 0 0 72 60 3 15
national student loan data system for parents national data system for parents Commercial Investigation 0 0 53 22 3 10
national student loan database contact number national database contact number Navigational 0 0 57 64 3 20
nslds student loan login nslds login Navigational 0 0 73 46 3 11
subsidized loan and unsubsidized student loan subsidized and unsubsidized Commercial Investigation 0 0 57 94 3 24
what is a national direct student loan what is a national direct Informational 0 0 66 64 3 17

+ Google Keyword Planner results:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/15pd9Yb12mMLNAkqdciLsHsxp4fuAmbwPP6tFbd6qsbg/pubchart?oid=937462318&format=interactive

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/15pd9Yb12mMLNAkqdciLsHsxp4fuAmbwPP6tFbd6qsbg/pubchart?oid=1426610676&format=interactive

Keyword Modifier Type Avg. Monthly Searches (exact match only) Competition Suggested bid
student loan application application Commercial Investigation 1K – 10K 0.98 22.37
student loan bankruptcy bankruptcy Commercial Investigation 1K – 10K 0.42 9.48
how to get a student loan how to get Informational 1K – 10K 0.92 10.59
student loan help help Informational 1K – 10K 0.96 15.48
student loan deferment deferment Commercial Investigation 1K – 10K 0.35 10.31
alaska student loan alsaska Navigational 1K – 10K 0.54 2.21
south carolina student loan south carolina Navigational 1K – 10K 0.45 23.59
texas guaranteed student loan texas guranteed Navigational 1K – 10K 0.5 17.34
student loan interest rates interest rates Transactional 1K – 10K 0.7 10.11
student loan consolidation rates consolidation rates Transactional 1K – 10K 0.94 17.44
student loan refinance refinance Commercial Investigation 10K – 100K 0.96 34.57
student loan consolidation consolidation Commercial Investigation 10K – 100K 0.98 22.52
student loan calculator calculator Informational 10K – 100K 0.42 5.41
student loan gov gov Navigational 10K – 100K 0.28 16.42
iowa student loan iowa Navigational 10K – 100K 0.23 9.08
student loan forgiveness forgiveness Commercial Investigation 100K – 1M 0.58 3.38
what is a student loan what is Informational 100 – 1K 0.6 8.75
how can i get a student loan how can I get Informational 100 – 1K 0.97 7.71
how to get a private student loan how to get a private Informational 100 – 1K 0.96 14.82
student loan app application Navigational 100 – 1K 0.83 11.89
student loan cancellation cancellation Transactional 100 – 1K 0.41 4.5
student loan tax tax Transactional 100 – 1K 0.25 47.05
medical student loan consolidation medical consolidation Commercial Investigation 10 – 100 0.93 0
federal student loan options federal options Commercial Investigation 10 – 100 0.75 7.45
student loan consolidation faq consolidation faq Commercial Investigation 10 – 100 0.76 15.94
how to figure out student loan interest how to figure out interest Informational 10 – 100 0.38 10.52
how to apply for a student loan online how to apply Informational 10 – 100 1 20.61
how much is my student loan payment how much is my Informational 10 – 100 0.22 20.96
need a student loan now need now Transactional 10 – 100 0.99 12.02
need student loan today need today Transactional 10 – 100 1 9.8

Tier 2 conclusion:

Google Keyword Planner largely uncovered a pretty even percentage of all 4 keyword types (30% Informational, 20% Navigational, 30% Commercial Investigation, and 20% Transactional). GKP also continued to provide a broader set of top-of-funnel keyword opportunities: student loan bankruptcy, student loan gov, student loan help, how to get a student loan, etc.

Moz Keyword Explorer largely uncovered Commercial Investigation and Informational queries. MKE also continued to provide a broader set of long-tail keyword opportunities: student loan forgiveness for teachers, student loan providers, student loan status, how do i find my student loan, etc.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/15pd9Yb12mMLNAkqdciLsHsxp4fuAmbwPP6tFbd6qsbg/pubchart?oid=2124848914&format=interactive


Where this is the end of the road for Google results, Moz has some other filters up its sleeve:

keyword-research-filters.gif

Let’s explore the other available Moz keyword filters and examine the discovered keyword results (keywords with unique intent).

Exclude your query terms to get broader ideas: 25 keywords

Most results are longer-tail queries around college tuition, educational expenses, private school tuition, etc. This evenly resulted in Informational, Navigational, and Transactional keyword results:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/15pd9Yb12mMLNAkqdciLsHsxp4fuAmbwPP6tFbd6qsbg/pubchart?oid=1492735879&format=interactive

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/15pd9Yb12mMLNAkqdciLsHsxp4fuAmbwPP6tFbd6qsbg/pubchart?oid=1845085651&format=interactive

Based on closely related topics: 35 keywords

One of the more evenly distributed (search volume) results in this example. Most keyword results are around other types of loans or grants: payday loan, pell grants, auto loan, private loans, etc.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/15pd9Yb12mMLNAkqdciLsHsxp4fuAmbwPP6tFbd6qsbg/pubchart?oid=14790318&format=interactive

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/15pd9Yb12mMLNAkqdciLsHsxp4fuAmbwPP6tFbd6qsbg/pubchart?oid=863682454&format=interactive

Based on broadly related topics and synonyms: 74 keywords

Results are mostly three words or longer and revolve around more specific types of loans; great lakes student loans, wells fargo student loans, student loan chase, etc.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/15pd9Yb12mMLNAkqdciLsHsxp4fuAmbwPP6tFbd6qsbg/pubchart?oid=399687563&format=interactive

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/15pd9Yb12mMLNAkqdciLsHsxp4fuAmbwPP6tFbd6qsbg/pubchart?oid=1267353869&format=interactive

Related to keywords with similar results pages: 187 keywords

Results are mostly long-tail Commercial Investigation queries around loan payments, student loan consolidation, student loan forgiveness for teachers, student loan payment help, etc.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/15pd9Yb12mMLNAkqdciLsHsxp4fuAmbwPP6tFbd6qsbg/pubchart?oid=55587757&format=interactive

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/15pd9Yb12mMLNAkqdciLsHsxp4fuAmbwPP6tFbd6qsbg/pubchart?oid=1247946328&format=interactive

Are questions: 111 keywords

Last, but certainly not least. The crème de la crème of an FAQ page.

Results reveal long-tail student loan questions (mostly Informational), like: can you file bankruptcy on student loans, do student loans affect credit score, are student loans tax deductible, where can i get a student loan, etc.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/15pd9Yb12mMLNAkqdciLsHsxp4fuAmbwPP6tFbd6qsbg/pubchart?oid=1398472508&format=interactive

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/15pd9Yb12mMLNAkqdciLsHsxp4fuAmbwPP6tFbd6qsbg/pubchart?oid=1983325232&format=interactive


TL;DR

Conclusion:

Google Keyword Planner has limited search volume data, but continues to provide a broader set of top-of-funnel keywords (high volume, low competition <– ad metric). Despite the “closely related” filter resulting in a more even percentage of all 4 keyword types, it provided fairly similar results (35.4% duplicate) to “broad.” Commercial and Informational keyword types were most commonly found.

Moz Keyword Explorer provides more accurate search volume data, while providing a broader set of long-tail keywords (mid-to-low volume, low competition). The many keyword filters provide a wide range of keyword results (17% duplicate in first two filters) and keyword types depending on which keyword filter you use. However, Informational, Commercial Investigation, and Navigational keyword types were most commonly found.

Pros:

Moz Keyword Explorer: Google Keyword Planner:
The keyword search volume accuracy (IMO) is the most impressive part of this tool. The ability to view monthly trends, mobile versus desktop searches, and geo-popular areas is wonderful.
Better UX. Can add negative keywords/keywords to not include in results.
Keyword suggestion filters reveal far more keyword results. Sorting by 100 keywords is a nice cadence.
The “are questions” filter is incredibly useful for things like FAQ pages and content marketing ideas. Google Sheet download integration.
Saved keyword lists (that can be refreshed!? Say whaa!?) Average keyword bid (for further competition insight).
Detailed SERP data for SERP feature opportunities. Monthly keyword trend data (on hover).
Organic competition metric. Ability to target specific hyper-local areas.
Ability to prioritize keywords which influences the Potential metric (for smarter keyword prioritization).

Cons:

Moz Keyword Explorer: Google Keyword Planner:
The Min Volume | Max Volume | Difficulty | Opportunity | Importance | Potential can be overwhelming. Search volume ranges are widely skewed and bucketed.
No Google Sheet download integration. Individuals who start adding keywords from the bottom up of a list (scrolling up) will miss newly populated results.
No “select all” option. Broad & Closely Related filters tend to provide very similar results.
The list of 1,000 keyword results can be daunting when doing lots of keyword research. No SERP feature data.
Inability to target specific local regions. Can’t save lists.
Clunky, slow UX.

Which is right for you?

I’d consider where you want to target people in your sales funnel, and where you need to improve your current website traffic. If you have wide top-of-funnel traffic for your product/service and need to better provide long-tail transactions, check out Moz Keyword Explorer. If you need a brief overview of top-level searches, take a look at Google Keyword Planner results.

Which do I use?

I’m a little ashamed to say that I still use both. Checking Google Keyword Planner gives me the peace of mind that I’m not missing anything. But, Moz Keyword Explorer continues to impress me with its search volume accuracy and ease of list creation. As it gets better with top-of-funnel keywords (and hopefully integrates competition up front) I would love to transition completely over to Moz.

Other keyword research tips:

I’ve also been a big fan of ubersuggest.io to give your initial keyword list a boost. You can add your selected keywords directly to Google Keyword Planner or Moz Keyword Explorer for instant keyword data. This can help identify where you should take your keyword research in terms of intent, sub-topic intents, geographic, etc.

Answer the Public is also a great resource for FAQ pages. Just make sure to change the location if you are not based in the UK.

Would love your feedback!

  • Please let me know if you can think of other ways to determine the quality of keywords from each tool.
  • Any other pros/cons that you would add?
  • What other tools have you been using for keyword research?

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