Yahoo / Overture Keyword Selector - Search Term Suggestion Tool Comparison

What you see, is what you get with the Overture search term suggestion tool. Yahoo (formerly Overture, formerly Goto) has been an integral part of keyword research for many years now. Offering their keyword tool free of charge for anyone to access. Many PPC campaigns and websites have been created as a result of this keyword tool.

Below please see a few screen shots of the tool in action:


Overture Keyword Selector results for 'hosting web'     Overture Keyword Selector results for 'web hosting'     Overture Keyword Selector results for 'webhosting'     Overture Keyword Selector results for 'website hosting'

Unfortunately as the above example shows there are a few inherent weaknesses and pitfalls with using the Overture Search Term Suggestion Tool. You can also read the review of the Google AdWords keyword suggestion tool that has other limitations.

In summary, Overture do some "conversions" to the most popular terms that they display. Such as, misspellings, hyphenated terms, punctuation variations, singular and plural combinations are "merged", "combined" and "mapped" to the most common form of that term.

From the above example:

  • merge all same words together regardless of order: "cheap web hosting" is the same as "cheap hosting web", "hosting cheap web", "hosting web cheap", "web cheap hosting", "cheap web site hosting", "cheap website hosting", "web hosting cheap" etc..
  • merge like meaning words such as: "cheap webhosting" and "webhosting cheap"
  • in other cases they merge all plurals as one: "fly" is the same as "flies", or "hotel" is the same as "hotels"

As a result the Overture data can be over inflated and inaccurate for specific search phrases. At the same time other factors even further inflate the search counts such as web site rank checking apps.

Why does Overture do this? All of these features are great for Overture PPC content match advertisers, in short Overture simplified their keyword tool for use by their PPC advertisers, in order for them to see the potential search volumes they can expect without having to target every single keyword variation. So if you are running PPC campaigns on Yahoo, then the tool shows the number of impressions you will get for your ad. Not all are human generated, but nonetheless still count as an ad impression.

The problem with this is that for organic SEO or even PPC campaigns on any other search engine like Google, this data can be rather unreliable. That is why in terms of SEO, use the Overture data wisely and with the above in mind. This is where cross referencing with an alternative keyword tool that does not merge plurals and like meaning phrases is very much recommended.

For example checking the Premium keyword database in KeywordDiscovery you can quickly tell which phrases are actually searches and in what frequency to all the others.

KeywordDiscovery Premium keyword database results

One other point to consider when using the Overture keyword tool, is that the search counts are from a Single Month, (January 2007) which does not take into account seasonality factors at all. Simply there is no point doing research for valentines day in November as Overture will have very little search activity on that seasonal topic for most of the year. You will need to do research in Jan, Feb and Mar in Overture to get the data you need for Dec, Jan and Feb.

As KeywordDiscovery provides a full 12 months worth of seasonal data it does not matter when you a doing your keyword research, the keyword will be represented over the last 12 months and broken down to weekly and monthly search counts.

Overture have ceased updating their database, it will only return data for the month of January 2007.


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