They current state of Keyword Data Management has not improved much over the years.?? Back Azimuth has recently completed a survey of various sized companies about how they manage their greatest search marketing asset – keywords.?? Some of the results are what you would expect but others are pretty interesting.? If you want to add your answers to our Keyword Management Survey go here

Sample Size:? This survey has responses from 112 different respondents from October 2011 to Present.

Surveyed Companies:? They range from small eCommerce companies to a lot of Fortune 100 multinationals.

Data Presentation:? While using pie charts and percents is not the most accurate way to represent this data as “research” I did it this way since this research is pretty revealing of the sad state of keyword management and did not want to give away too much data that would motivate potential competitors.



Question 1:? How Many Keywords are you Currently Managing?

The majority of respondents are managing more than 1,000 keywords with 54.5% managing between 1,000 and 100,000 and 27.3% managing more than 1 million keywords.

Question 2:? What Keeps you from Managing More keywords?

While not expected but not really surprising, the biggest reasons people don’t manage more keywords is that they don’t have the budgets.

  • 63.6%? Don’t have the budget to manage more keywords
  • 45.5%? Don’t have the time to manage more keywords
  • 36.4%? Don’t have a system to organize and manage keywords
  • 18.2%? Don’t have the time to find more keywords
  • 18.2%? Found all their keywords and don’t need any more
  • 9.1%? Current keyword management solution is complex and hard to use
  • 9.1%? Limited by my vendor’s capabilities


?Question 3:? If it were easier to manage more keywords and performance how many would you like to manage?

Again, a little surprising but we need to match up this response to company size since that may be the limiting factor.? Smaller companies may max out at 100 keywords that represent their offer to companies like WalMart or Travelocity who need over 1 million phrases just to capture their massive product inventories.

?Question 4:? What are the most time consuming and challenging aspects of keyword management?

Given that only a few respondents using anything other than Excel to manage their words there is no surprise that “organizing words” was the biggest challenge.? Closely following was reviewing keywords in paid and organic programs.? Most programs are managed separately from each other and it is rare that I find a company that even knows which words are in the other program.?? Two other responses jumped out, not knowing the business or performance value of keywords was important to search marketers.? Without knowing the value and incremental performance it is hard to make a business case for more funding for search marketing activities.

  • 63.6%? Organizing keywords
  • 45.5%? Reviewing keyword currently used in paid and organic search
  • 36.4%? Assigning keyword ownership across business units
  • 36.4%? Finding and adding new keywords
  • 36.4%? Not knowing the business value of keywords
  • 36.4%? Not knowing the performance potential of keywords


?Question 5:? Do you currently aggregate your Paid and Organic Search Data into a single view for analysis?

Another surprise answer.? I have conducted and informal surveys at Search conferences over the past few years and the most responses for integration was 5 out of over 100 attendees so this number was a but surprising.? I am encourages that nearly 50% that are not currently aggregating and analyzing are interested in doing so.


  • 46.2%?? Yes, currently aggregate for analysis
  • 46.2%? No, do not currently aggregate but would like to
  • ?? 7.7%? No, do not currently aggregate for analysis

?Question 6:? Do you analyze the collaboration or cannibalization impact of Paid and Organic Search data?

Following Question 5, that less than 50% aggregate the data it follows the same number of respondents actually do the analysis.


  • 46.2%?? Currently analyze the collaboration or cannibalization of paid and organic search
  • 38.5%? Do not currently analyze the collaboration or cannibalization of paid and organic search – but want to
  • 15.4%? Do not currently analyze the collaboration or cannibalization of paid and organic search


Question 7:? Do you currently segment your keyword phrases into categories or segments?

Again, a little surprising but we need to match up this response to company size since that may be the limiting factor.? Smaller companies may max out at 100k worth of products where someone like WalMart or Travelocity needs over 1 million just to capture their massive inventories.


  • 100%?? Segment keywords by brand and non-brand
  • 54.5%? Segment keywords by purchase or buy cycles
  • 54.5%? Segment keywords by categories or other logical segments
  • 45.5%? Segment keywords by searcher intent
  • 36.4%? Segment keywords by business units
  • 18.2%? Segment keywords by audience types or persona
  • 0%?????? Segment keywords into question formats? (i.e. How to clean marble counters?)



Question 8:? What should a keyword management tool have that would impress your boss to increase your budget?

This question was to help me understand the features that a user would want in a keyword management tool to help them demonstrate the value of Search Marketing to their boss.?? The responses were not what I expected and all over the place.


  • 83.3%?? Identify issues and opportunities more quickly
  • 66.7%?? Lower or better control over PPC spend
  • 58.3%?? Better coordination between business units and teams
  • 33.3%?? Quicker access to keyword lists and associated data
  • 16.7%?? Other

The other responses were the ability to tie to Salesforce to demonstrate lead value and for an agency to demonstrate their value to the business.