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The different keyword search results between Overture and Wordtracker

Keyword selection is critical to search engine marketing. Get the keywords wrong, your online business is doomed. Find the right keywords and you will attract a lot of targeted traffic to your website through search engines.

There have been discussions on webmaster forums as to why Overture’s search query results are so different than Wordtracker’s. For example, at the time of this writing, a search query for the key phrase ‘internet marketing’ produced 342,848 searches in the last 60 days for Overture and 2,356 for Wordtracker. Now, which one is more accurate?


It is a pay per click search engine. According to Overture, its search statistics for previous months are compiled from its partners, which include AltaVista, Yahoo, MSN Search, HotBot and All the Web. So Overture’s stats are wide because it has a bigger network.

However, your data has some drawbacks.

1. There is no distinction between…

has. Singular and plural terms.

You have to find out if the browsers are looking for the singular or plural form of the keyword.

b. Upper case and lower case.

against Human queries and automated queries.

Queries made by automated bid optimizers, ranking and position monitors, link popularity analyzers are recorded as hits.

2. Duplicate searches

For example, a person doing a search for a particular keyword phrase on Yahoo and then on MSN would be recorded as 2 results.

word tracker

It is a keyword generator and analyzer, and does not have direct access to the databases of the major search engines. Wordtracker gets a lot of its analyzer data from Meta-crawler and Dogpile, which are meta search engines. Metacrawler and Dogpile search the major search engines like Google, Yahoo, MSN Search, and Ask Jeeves, and get the best results.

Wordtracker data, collected mostly from Metacrawler and Dogpile, represents only a small percentage of all Internet searches.

Wordtracker has about 350 million searches in a rolling 8-week cycle (Source: Search Engine Workshops Weblog, June 30, 2005). Now for some math. 350 million searches over 56 days would give an average of 6.25 million searches per day. Google, with a 36 percent share of Internet traffic (Source: comScore qSearch, July 2005), logs about 112 million searches a day (Source: Top Ten list, Wordtracker). So, compared to the total internet searches, Wordtracker accounts for only 2 percent.

When Wordtracker returns a zero query for a particular search phrase, it doesn’t mean that no one is looking for it on the Internet.

However, with Wordtracker, automatic queries are not added to searches and duplicate searches are eliminated. Singular and plural, uppercase and lowercase search terms are distinguished except for keywords where singular, plural, lowercase, or uppercase have similar meanings, for example, ‘keyword’ and ‘keywords’ .

Overture or Wordtracker?

For Overture, the figures are inflated, while for Wordtracker they are understated. However, these are useful tools for keyword research and selection. Use these figures as guides, not absolute values, to make comparisons in your choice of keywords.

For example, if Keyphrase 1 has 10,000 searches on Overture and Keyphrase 2 has 2,000 searches, then it’s obvious that Keyphrase 1 will attract more traffic if your web page is properly optimized. But don’t expect 10,000 visitors with keyword 1.

I’ve read on Webmaster forums of people who had selected keywords based on the promising number of searches on Overture, optimized their website and ranked in the top 10 of the major search engines, but saw very little traffic.

In my opinion, if you are comparing popularity between keywords or keyword phrases, Overture will do the job. If you’re selecting keywords or keyword phrases to start an online business, or advertise on pay-per-click engines, conventional wisdom would tell you that Wordtracker is a better option. Better to set lower expectations based on lower numbers and be pleasantly surprised when things turn out differently.

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