The different keyword search results between Overture and Wordtracker


Keyword selection is fundamental to search engine marketing. Get the wrong keywords, your online business is doomed. Find the right keywords and you will drive masses of targeted traffic to your website via search engines.

There have been discussions in webmaster forums, why are Overture’s search query results so different from those of Wordtracker? For example, at the time of this writing, a search query for the keyword phrase “internet marketing” yielded 342,848 searches in the past 60 days by Overture and 2,356 by Wordtracker. Now, which 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. Overture’s stats are therefore wide because he has a wider network.

However, his data has some drawbacks.

1. There is no distinction between…

a. Singular and plural terms.

You need to determine if people are looking for the singular or plural form of the keyword.

b. Upper and lower case.

vs. Human queries and automated queries.

Queries from automated bid optimizers, position and rank monitors, link popularity analyzers are saved as results.

2. Duplicate searches

For example, someone searching for a particular keyword phrase in Yahoo and then in MSN would be recorded as 2 results.

word tracker

It’s a keyword generator and analyzer, and it doesn’t have direct access to major search engine databases. Wordtracker gets much of its analytics data from Meta-crawler and Dogpile, which are meta search engines. Metacrawler and Dogpile search major search engines like Google, Yahoo, MSN Search and Ask Jeeves, and retrieve the top results.

Wordtracker data, primarily collected from Metacrawler and Dogpile, represents only a small percentage of total internet searches.

Wordtracker has approximately 350 million searches on a rolling 8-week cycle (Source: Search Engine Workshops Weblog, June 30, 2005). Now for some math. 350 million searches over 56 days would yield an average of 6.25 million searches per day. Google, with a 36% share of Internet traffic (Source: comScore qSearch, July 2005), registers approximately 112 million searches per day (Source: Top Ten list, Wordtracker). Thus, compared to the total searches on the Internet, Wordtracker represents only 2%.

When Wordtracker returns no query for a particular search phrase, it does not mean that no one is searching for it on the Internet.

However, with Wordtracker, automated 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, e.g. “keyword” and “keywords”.

Aperture or Wordtracker?

For Overture the numbers are inflated, while for Wordtracker they are underreported. Nevertheless, they are useful tools for keyword research and selection. Use these numbers as guides and not absolutes to make comparisons in your keyword choice.

For example, if Keyphrase 1 has 10,000 searches in Overture and Keyphrase 2 has 2,000 searches, then obviously Keyphrase 1 would drive more traffic if your web page was properly optimized. But don’t expect 10,000 visitors with keyword 1.

I have read on webmaster forums of people who selected keywords based on promising number of searches on Overture, optimized their web page and achieved top 10 positions in major search engines, but only saw very little traffic.

In my opinion, if you are comparing popularity between keywords or keyphrases, Overture will do the job. If you are 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 bet. It’s better to set lower expectations based on lower numbers and be pleasantly surprised when things turned out differently.