Google Autocomplete and Keyword Planner

In the case study below, I’ll examine the relationship between Google Autocomplete and how it correlates to it’s Keyword Planner data.

Introduction

In the case below, we successfully helped a client remove the word “scam” as one of the suggestions when you type her name into Google.

Now that the case is in the rearview mirror, let’s see how the data we collected during our work matches up with what’s being reported by Google’s free Keyword Planner tool.

Please note that all names and keywords in the example below are changed to protect the confidentiality of the client; however, the numbers, dates, and all other facts are actual.

Chronology Of Our Work With The Client

April 3, 2013

Client first contacted us because her name was being autocompleted with “scam” when she typed “Jane Doe” into Google.

Jane doe scam

We did some keyword research and found that Google reported ZERO search volume for the keyword term “Jane Doe scam,” which makes us wonder why Google suggests it in the first place, but that’s another story.

With the client’s help, we assembled the following list of 17 positive search terms she had relevant existing content online for.

  1. Jane Doe chevy
  2. Jane Doe bookworm
  3. Jane Doe scrapbooking
  4. Jane Doe hathaway
  5. Jane Doe st mark’s school
  6. Jane Doe oxford university
  7. Jane Doe pigeons
  8. Jane Doe ABC Electric
  9. Jan Doe admin
  10. Jane Doe socializing
  11. Jane Doe time stamp
  12. Jane Doe UK
  13. Jane Doe elementary
  14. Jane Doe spades
  15. Jane Doe twitter
  16. Jane Doe blog
  17. Jane Doe worcester

April 4, 2013

We began performing searches for all of the positive terms listed above, aiming for about 20 searches per month.

April 30, 2013

After about 4 weeks, the term “Jane Doe scrapbooking” is added to the list of suggestions. “Jane Doe scam” is still one of the suggestions.

Jane doe scrapbooking

June 8, 2013

“Scam” is pushed out of the search results after about 2 months of performing positive searches. Of course the client was very happy with the result and after tapering down the searches to about 50% of our previous volume, we stopped searching altogether on July 31, 2013.

Jane doe google autocomplete fixed

October 24, 2013

After about 3 months of performing no searches at all, we decided to check Google to see what the Jane Doe autocomplete suggestions were. We see there are NO SUGGESTIONS now.

It appears as though Google’s autcomplete algorithm has recognized that there has been no search volume (at least by our team) over the last 3 months and the suggestions have been updated to reflect that.

Jane doe no autocomplete suggestions 3-4 months later

Matching Autocomplete Suggestions What Google Keyword Planner Data

October 27, 2013

Our next step was to take a look at the data provided by Google’s Keyword Planner. We ran a report with our original 17 positive search terms to see what Google would report for the search volume for each one. We also added “Jane Doe” and “Jane Doe scam” to the list.

Notice how Google reports search volume for:

  • Jane Doe chevy – 30 searches in July
  • Jane Doe admin – 20 searches in July
  • Jane Doe blog – 10 searches in July

There are ZERO reported searches for “Jane Doe scrapbooking,” even though we searched for that term as much as the other terms.

Keyword Planner Data, all countriesOct '12Nov '12Dec '12Jan '13Feb '13Mar '13Apr '13May '13Jun '13Jul '13Aug '13Sep '13
Jane Doe90203020903202607030202010
Jane Doe chevy0000000003000
Jane Doe bookworm000000000000
Jane Doe scrapbooking000000000000
Jane Doe hathaway000000000000
Jane Doe st marks school000000000000
Jane Doe oxford university000000000000
Jane Doe pigeons000000000000
Jane Doe ABC Electric000000000000
Jane Doe admin0000000002000
Jane Doe socializing000000000000
Jane Doe time stamp000000000000
Jane Doe UK000000000000
Jane Doe elementary000000000000
Jane Doe spades000000000000
Jane Doe twitter000000000000
Jane Doe blog0000000001000
Jane Doe worcester000000000000
Jane Doe scam000000000000

We would have expected to see each term in the list above have 10, 20, or 30 searches per month in the months we actually performed the searches. But we didn’t. Instead, we see that only 3 of the 17 terms we searched show any volume at all. And even then, the volume does not match up with the months in which the actual work was completed.

Conclusions

From a small case study like the one described above, we can glean lots of insights into Google Autocomplete and Google Keyword Planner

    1. As you can see from the chart above, the search volume being reported by Google’s Keyword Planner is far different from what we would have expected to see. Not only is the volume incorrect, but so is the timing. Thus, it appears as though the data in the keyword planner should only be used as a guide, and not as fact.
    2. There is no search volume for the term “Jane Doe scam,” going back through October 2012, which begs the question, “How did ‘scam’ get their in the first place?” This either confirms our assumption in point #1 above or it could indicate that Google uses content signals to form autocomplete suggestions.
    3. After two months of performing positive searches in Google, Jane Doe’s autocomplete problem was fixed. After about 3 months of performing ZERO searches, all suggestions were gone. For keywords with low search volume, it appears to take between 2-3 months for the suggestions to change. 
    4. As overall search volume disappears, so do the suggestions. After 3 months of performing no searches, we noticed that when we type the client’s name into Google now, no suggestions appear. It’s reasonable to expect “Jane Doe scam” could appear again as a suggestion, just like it did in the first place. We’ll be sure to check on it in the future, but for the time being, our assumption is that once autocomplete is fixed, some ongoing maintenance might be a good idea as insurance against the negative term(s) re-appearing.

Have an autocomplete problem you need fixed? Give Mike a call at 503-890-6663 for a confidential consultation.