Moz Keyword Explorer vs. Google Keyword Planner

What is the difference between Moz Keyword Explorer and Google Keyword Planner?

The first step in any successful SEO strategy is the all-important keyword research. Fortunately for all those content marketers out there, Google and many other companies have been hard at work creating state-of-the-art tools to track down the estimated search volume for any given term.

For example, let’s say I’m a purveyor of fine turtleneck sweaters. I’d like to conduct research into search trends for this keyword, so I search around online for the best tool. Unsurprisingly, Google tells me that its own Keyword Planner is the best tool. So I log into Google Keyword Planner and plop in the term…

Presto! I can see that “turtlenecks” has an average monthly search volume of 74,000. I can also see that search volume picks up when the weather turns chilly from September to December. But I’m a thorough keyword searcher. I”m going to make sure that I’m tackling the right keyword. I’ve heard of this other great keyword research tool called Moz Keyword Explorer, so I open it up and put in my search term…

Hold the phone. Moz is returning a monthly search volume for “turtlenecks” that is wayyy under what GKP is reporting. But why is that? Your first inclination might be to side with Google on the accuracy of the report. However, the reality is a bit more complicated.

As Russ Jones from Moz explains, there are a few reasons why each engine yields different results.

1. Google Combines Related Keywords

Google Keyword Planner combines related search terms when returning search volume numbers. That means, for example, if I were a marine veterinarian searching for “turtle necks”, the search volume for that term would likely be added to the overall search volume for “turtlenecks”. This can also occur with words or terms that share the same meaning. For example, “SEO” and “Search Engine Optimization” or “Ad Agency” and “Advertising Agency”.

While it may seem like a search term is searched one thousand times a month, it’s possible that Google is combining similar terms that are also searched for. Oftentimes this means that Google is returning a number that is likely higher than the true, exact search volume for a specific keyword. In comparison, Moz combines Google’s results with clickstream to data to separate unique search terms rather than combine.

2. Moz Uses a Different Data Range

Moz uses a different range of data than Google to display average monthly search volume. This range is meant to demonstrate an average equal to or below the expected volume for 6 months out of the year. This is different from Google, which uses a 12—month period to determine the average monthly search volume.  The key difference here is that Moz is more conservative and skews closer to an accurate representation that isn’t as affected by seasonal trends.

3. Moz is More Conservative

Overall, Moz is just a bit more conservative when it comes to reporting data compared to Google. A large part of this is due to Google’s combining of keywords. Moz corrects against large outliers by weeding out keyword terms that have a large discrepancy between clickstream data and Google reported search volume. Some of these discrepancies result from misspellings that get returned as search results, for example typing “Facbook” when you meant to search “Facebook”. Google adds these together whereas Moz tries to present a more accurate portrayal to ensure that their customers aren’t putting SEO effort behind keywords that aren’t really being searched that often.

When conducting keyword research, you should consult multiple SEO friendly tools. Besides Google and Moz, some of the best tools we’ve used include Semrush, KWFinder and Keyword Tool. For a breakdown of what each tool is capable of, check out this article. Content Marketers can rest assured that leading SEO companies are continually updating their search volume models to give even better and more accurate insights.

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About the author

Jackson Bentley

Not wanting to come up short delivering on his moniker as “jack of all trades”, Jackson works with a [...]