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Are Third Party Keyword Research Tools Safe?
Doubt on using third party keyword research tools.

 9:08 pm on Jun 6, 2012 (gmt 0)


As you would be knowing, there are several keyword competition analysis tools like word tracker, Seobook tool etc. But I haven't used any of them till date. I really doubt if tools like these violate google's TOS by sending any automated queries. Is my doubt justified or should I seriously consider using any of those ?

Please someone help.



Andy Langton

 9:56 am on Jun 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

Google have an API for Adwords keyword data, so if it's collected that way it's all fine regarding ToS. Wordtracker uses a separate dataset (which may be its biggest weakness).

Incidentally, I'm unsure why you use the word "safe"? Safe from what, exactly? :)


 10:52 am on Jun 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

Thanks for your reply.

I guess these tools would send automated queries to google to extract data such as number of backlinks. But I have read somewhere that google doesn't like automated queries. Does this mean these tools are violating TOS ? Or am I missing something here.

Andy Langton

 11:02 am on Jun 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

The majority with Adwords data will be using the API, so totally above board. But the terms of service is a user agreement. So if you sent automated queries from your own PC, you risk that PC (or internet connection) being blocked from using that service.

Similarly, if a third party sends automated queries, they risk being blocked from using that particular service (e..g. if you mass retrieve Google SERPs you can be blocked from searching).

But there's no risk to the site involved in the queries.


 11:19 am on Jun 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

Hi, Just I found the below paragraph in google TOS page :
Google's Terms of Service do not allow the sending of automated queries of any sort to our system without express permission in advance from Google. Sending automated queries absorbs resources and includes using any software (such as WebPosition Gold™) to send automated queries to Google to determine how a website or webpage ranks in Google search results for various queries.

Does this mean keyword research tools relying on adwords/google search data are violating TOS? Or they do this way by getting prior permission from google?

Doesn't this put the users of these softwares at risk as well? Please can you help me.

Andy Langton

 7:19 pm on Jun 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

Does this mean keyword research tools relying on adwords/google search data are violating TOS?

Not if they use the API. If they don't use the API, they violate Google's end user terms of service, and Google reserves the right to block that software from accessing results.

If you're a user of third party software that breaks Google's ToS to scrape data, you have no risk whatsoever other than your tool may stop working.

If, for instance, you wanted to scrape site: search results to save wading through them manually, and in the absence of any other means to get the data (this is a real example, and I do it myself) then yes, these requests are in violation of Google's ToS.

Sometimes, Google will detect that these are automated requests, and most commonly, will present a captcha that a person has to fill in, or in extreme cases, will block the computer(s) making the requests. They won't do anything about the sites involved in the site: searches, because there is no way to connect the two. I frequently look at competitor's sites, for instance, and if they were punished for my scraping disaster would ensue.

Make sure you understand the difference between the Google ToS (i.e. the rules by which you can use their search engine, or other tools) and their webmaster guidelines (rules on which sites they will or won't include in search results).

Personally, I scrape Google, and use tools that scrape Google for productivity reasons. I'm polite enough about it, and I've never run into any problems. After all, their entire business model is built on automated requests for other people's content. This has nothing to do with the performance of a site in search results, which is an entirely different matter. When Google offered a decent API to programmers, I used that, but these days there is no reasonable solution other than scraping if you want to analyse results en masse.

The mention of WebPosition Gold is a historical one. Back in the day (I should be to young to remember it, but unfortunately, I'm not) 'WPG' both scraped Google results (to check rankings) and provided automated SEO based on that advice, with a handy detectable footprint that got a lot of sites using the automated SEO advice. So it was a tool that Google really didn't like and, unusually, named. That particular software is a minnow in the sea of tools mass-querying Google these days.

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