I received an email asking: “What type of tools are useful for testing broad/exact search volumes (including long tails) for China?”

For this question, I’ll assume that we’re talking about keyword research for a new market, so using data from existing websites isn’t possible.

Here are the 4 tools we use the most.

Google AdWords Keyword Tool

Google’s keyword tool is an industry standard for English keyword research, and it’s quite useful for Chinese as well.

While Google may not have the market share Baidu does, it still has enough data to be quite useful. Plus, it’s fairly easy to use, because it gives us the options of:

  1. Adding a whole list of keywords to check at once.
  2. Viewing results for broad, phrase and exact match types.
  3. Viewing results for many different locations.
  4. Viewing estimated cost per click.

I use Google’s keyword tool as my first source of information, unless the market is so niche that it isn’t turning up results.

Baidu’s Keyword Tool (关键词工具)

Baidu’s keyword tool isn’t as easy to use, but has some advantages over Google’s tool too. I use it as my secondary tool, but others in my company use it as their primary keyword research tool. I guess it comes down to preference.

On the plus side, Baidu has more data.

But Baidu’s tool has some drawbacks too:

  • You can only search one keyword at a time. So annoying!
  • If the daily search volume is over 20,000, it just displays >20,000. This makes it hard to differentiate between search volumes for high-volume keywords.
  • It only shows results for exact match.

Baidu’s keyword tool is available within the Baidu Tuiguang management area. It is possible to setup an account for free, but it requires authorization via a Chinese phone number.

Baidu’s Budget Tool (估算工具)

Baidu’s budgeting tool is located right next to their keyword tool in the Baidu ad management area. This tool allows you to enter one or more keywords and a maximum bid per click. It will then show you estimates for number of clicks per day and how high your ad might rank for each keyword.

It’s useful for estimating appropriate bids.

Baidu Index (百度指数)

Baidu Index is useful for identifying trends, especially for higher-volume keywords.

Check out these Baidu Index results for “房产” (real estate). It gives us daily search volumes over a selectable period of time, as well as a whole bunch of other info on everything from the gender of searchers to the geographic distribution of searches.

Putting it All Together

It’s important to remember that none of the tools listed above is flawless and none of them are even very reliable. Both Baidu and Google’s keyword tools may fail to help you identify opportunities for keywords, especially long-tail keywords.

It’s very common to see a daily search volume of <5 on Baidu but a monthly search volume of over 5,000 on Google. What does that mean? It means Baidu’s keyword search volume results are wrong. The same thing can happen with Google’s keyword tool as well.

It’s best to support your keyword research with some competitive analysis too. If a keyword seems to have a low search volume, yet there are sites competing for that keyword in the SEO or pay per click arenas, then it’s almost certain that the search volume for that keyword is understated.

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