[Discussion] Sunsetting the Keywords Tool in 2018

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New Contributor

Hi, looking for thoughts, tools, training on how to view competitors keywords.

 

thanks!

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HubSpot Product Team

Hi @kgregorakis. If you are looking for specific keywords your competitors rank for, I would look into tools like AccuRanker, SEMrush, or Ahrefs. Depending on exactly what you're looking for any may work. I'm personally more familiar with the latter two, both which have good tracking but are a bit more expensive.

 

Hope this helps!

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New Contributor

I'd recommend starting with K-meta keyword research tool. It is easy to use, accurate and offers to begin with a free Subscription!

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HubSpot Product Team

Hi all - Angela from the Product team here - first of all, thank you all taking the time to submit these responses. We appreciate the thoughtfulness, consideration, and rationale behind these comments and want to provide additional context and clarity on the themes you've cited most. Jeffrey and I have spoken to many of you on the phone but I wanted to provide some additional context behind this decision from a product and business perspective to this thread.

 

At this point, of about 120,000 weekly active users of our marketing product, about 3.7% view the Keywords tool every week, and only a third of them actually use it. Usage has been trending downward for the past 4 years, and many of you have rightfully noted it's because the tool itself has not provided the necessary value for many marketers and business owners to stick around using it. With a goal of understanding the value our users were looking for in Keywords, 2 years ago we asked both users and non-users what they wanted in an SEO tool. What we found was surprising. It was quite difficult to find users who solely relied on the HubSpot Keywords report as their means of doing keyword research. From there, we evaluated our offering from a technical, market, and business perspective after hearing from customers, and determined any investment (engineering time, partnerships, or otherwise) into the rehabilitation of the Keywords tool would not ultimately serve customers.

 

But we were not ready to deprecate the Keywords report then and there. Clearly, this tool was and is beloved by many for its simplicity and frankly it’s practicality in assessing 1) what do I write about and 2) how am I doing. In searching for an improvement to the SEO toolset, we on the product team found Matt Barby and Anum Hussain’s work on the marketing team incredibly compelling and effective: we’d found the future-proof solution we were looking for.

 

Beyond that, we also saw the market was moving in this direction with concepts like 10x content, the skyscraper technique, and overall search algorithm changes. Slowly but surely, we realized the information in the Keywords report such as exact-match, single-location Rank and Difficulty at odds with where this space is headed and where our offering is going. After some time, we made the incredibly hard decision to sunset the tool.

 

While this context doesn’t take away from the fact that a portion of loyal customers find value in the tool, it gives you some perspective into the facts of the situation. When faced with choosing priorities across a multi-tool, ever-growing platform, in an ever-changing industry, we lean on this type of data to ensure that our decisions align with the tools that you use and value most.  To wrap up, I wanted to address some of the specific questions you've brought up:

 

1) HubSpot got in a fight with their 3rd party data provider and so they’re cutting ties.

Not true. In fact SEMrush, who supplies CPC, Monthly Search, and Suggestions data to Keywords, has stepped up and is offering to help be the rank-tracking provider of choice within their software and we’re developing deeper relations with them across HubSpot’s platform as well. More on that in the coming weeks but check them out here.

 

2) HubSpot didn’t want to pay to keep that data in the software.

Nope. We spend a lot of money, and will continue to spend a lot of money, to get the right data into the software, so that you can can create effective content. Cost savings had nothing to do with this decision.

 

3) HubSpot is naive in thinking rank is dead.

Interestingly, I agree with this. I help a couple friends and family with their small businesses, one of which is run via HubSpot. I understand very deeply the rush that comes from seeing your rank improve over time, and I understand the validation you get from seeing your domain gain traction with a specific term. I also realize that can get very, very dangerous. Solely focusing on rank as a measure of success might mean foregoing the opportunity to deliver the content that converts for your business in your industry, but holistically speaking rank does have its place in gauging what content Google values. At HubSpot - because we have the ability to see what your visitors value (what content gets traffic, shares, and conversions) we can and will go one step beyond, allowing for aggregation of content performance and topical ownership, even if it doesn’t “rank” on google. Even if it’s not a HTML page... think video, social posts, etc. all across the internet. A future that rank alone could not support.

 

4) Keywords in the optimization panel really helped me create content, it sucks that you’re killing that!

We’re not! I love that part of the product too - it ties things together nicely from planning to execution. We’re actually doubling-down on the product there, and pointing towards topic clusters within content strategy. You’ll see this change shortly - it will not be altogether different than what is in those panels today.

 

Ultimately we want to create a tool and toolset that lasts well into the future beyond a changing SERP, a changing searcher, new ways to search for new types of content, and a different perspective on what matters for success. I completely understand however that we’re in the middle of a perceived gap between practicality and philosophy. I am not suggesting that we replaced the Keywords tool with Content Strategy. What I am suggesting now is that we give content creation in HubSpot, sans the Keywords tool, a try. As the market, our broad customer base, our company, and our technologies evolve, so too should this content creation strategy. I promise we will be here listening to every piece of feedback, every commendation or moment of insight, every insult, every piece of friction, and we will make every effort to support you in this journey. Thanks again for the time and consideration.

 

Sincerely,

Angela

Occasional Contributor

First of all, thanks for the well thought out response.  I think that there are assumptions operating that probably aren't true.  As a multiline product manager, we know that 3.5% weekly usage for a utility is actually pretty good.  The tool itself would never be used on a daily or even a weekly basis.  It's a planning tool, not a writing tool.  

 

The other assumption is that the changes in the SEO algorithm make SERP irrelevant in all cases.  My company lives in a world of well-defined hierarchies of terms.  

 

Last, the assumption is that using the SEO tools, somehow reduces other approaches.  I think the strategy tools would be great if it allowed the creativity needed to tie together all of the content in landing pages, blogs, documents, COS, and data sources.  Technical B2B is different from your core business, but you can't ignore it when you build or in this can deprecate tools.

 

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jc Regular Contributor | Platinum Partner
Regular Contributor | Platinum Partner

Angela, thank you very much for your thoughtful response. I love you do this for the community.

 

This is what I agree with the most:

 

"3) HubSpot is naive in thinking rank is dead.

Interestingly, I agree with this. I help a couple friends and family with their small businesses, one of which is run via HubSpot. I understand very deeply the rush that comes from seeing your rank improve over time, and I understand the validation you get from seeing your domain gain traction with a specific term."

 

We see every day this validation turning into actual money. However, this is where I think the following text gets unnecesarily condescending and disregards the prior:

 

"I also realize that can get very, very dangerous. Solely focusing on rank as a measure of success"

 

That has nothing to do with the tool per se… Theoretically, every tool within Hubspot could be "dangerously" seen as a sole measure of success. That's not a valid reason for taking it out.

 

I remain feeling pretty strongly about these facts and assumptions:

  1. Hubspot for years stopped investing in making this tool better for its users while other vendors thrived in innovation and usefullness. 
  2. The prior most likely impacted Hubspot's own marketing and sales communications and new Hubspot users didn't buy in based on that feature.
  3. Probably because of the prior two reasons user engagement dropped.
  4. Hubspot is currently justifying low usage as one of the primary reasons to sunset this tool. 
  5. Most likely, Moz and Semrush will keep innovating and remain relevant for years to come. I certainly see Hubspot contributing to that possibility.

 

On a side note, I also perceive a strong similarity with another sunsetting: killing the ability to post multi-account social messages on mobile:

  1. Hubspot stopped innovation around this feature while other vendors thrived (hootsuite, buffer). These are vendors —I must say— Hubspot openly criticizes when talking about platform fragmentation in its marketing communication and sales.
  2. People stopped using the feature.
  3. The feature didn't make the cut to the new app.

When pointing out missing this feature, Daria Axelrod from Hubspot recently responded  @ the Facebook Agency Partners Group: "In the old mobile app, social functionality was not used very frequently which is why it isn't in the current one"

 

Now see what happened at our agency:

  1. We were forced to become Buffer customers to continue having this ability (for something we used to get bundled within the Hubspot License). The business / team version is not a cheap solution.
  2. Since it is messy to do mobile and non-mobile posting with two different tools in terms of scheduling, we stopped using Hubspot altogether for posting on social.
  3. Probably social posting usage (for non-blog auto-published content) is going down on the desktop web app for many users.

Under this logic, what should I think will happen next regarding this feature?

 

 

Look, we are your partners and we really like working with you. As a company, Hubspot has contributed a great deal to our growth and success. That is precisely why I am investing so much precious time insisting in killing this feature is just a decision that even with your lengthy explanation holds no ground for us. We feel you dropped the ball for too long and now you don't want to play this game anymore in favor of a new one we could've played simultaneously.

 

However, this is just our opinion. We can definitely be mistaken and only time will tell if this was the right call or not. Let's just hope for the best again. See you at partner day @ Cambridge HQ if you want Smiley Happy

Occasional Contributor

"The Keyword Ranking System will no longer exist for anyone- not even specific tools like Moz will be able to provide that resource." This is what I was told in an email from a Hubspot team member as well as in a joint phone call with 2 Hubspot team members. 

 

I printed a copy of the email because I find the utter disappearance of any keyword tool as incomprehensible. Poor SEMrush will be out of business!

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Anh
Regular Contributor

Hi, 

 

If the Content strategy gonna be the replacement for Keywork tool. The feature needs to be work in local language. For example, the feature is not fully functional in Finnish. 

 

 

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HubSpot Product Team

Hi @Anh. Thanks for the comment. 

 

Out of curiosity, have you changed the locale of your topic cluster to your local market? Doing so will update the Monthly Search Volume numbers to be from that market, and will also update the suggestions. You can change the locale directly from the Content Strategy dashboard, as in the image shown below.

 

Screen Shot 2018-03-14 at 9.39.06 AM.png

Content suggestions in some languages are certainly not perfect, but you can help improve them by clicking the "hide" button and offering feedback for any that are irrelevant.

 

Hope this helps!

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Visitor

Since you are removing one of the essential tools in your process, will you be lowering the price?

New Contributor

Totally agree here the Keywords was just a god way of grouping content and providing my team a strategy to focus on.

Dont remove 

Occasional Contributor

I noticed that you are getting rid of the Keyword tracking tool on hubspot... and it directs you to SEMRUSH that you have partnered with. I have recently been using this for the past month and have just had an email saying that I would have to upgrade my account to continue getting the benefits I would receive. I presumed that as you guys are getting rid of the keyword tool (something that I joined hubspot to receive) I thought that I would receive the benefit of SEMRUSH and the keyword tool free or at least heavily discounted. 

 

Keyword tracking forms a big part of my marketing strategy including me making informed decisions on what content topics I decide to write about, retweet and also look to what my competitiors are writing about and how they are ranking. It helps me to understand what keywords are worth going after and what aren't, whilst also helping me to understand my target audience. 

 

I have a marketing budget, and Hubspot subscription already challenges this and with another subscription that has a keyword tracking tool, it just wouldn't be viable, so now I am forced to make a decision to stay or go!!

Occasional Contributor

This is spot on. 

Community Thought Leader | Diamond Partner

Hi @maisiewessex

 

I don't have a perfect solution to your dilemma, unfortunately, but I have settled on SE Ranking as an affordable and adequate substitute (better in many ways) for the HubSpot Keyword Tool. A quick look at pricing indicates its a fair bit cheaper than SEMRush. 

 

Best of luck.

Phil Vallender | Inbound marketing for B2B technology companies
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Occasional Contributor

Hi Phil, 

 

Thanks will deffo take a look at this - really appreciate it! 

 

Can you add competitors in and compare your rankings with theirs too? 

 

Best, 

Maisie 

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Community Thought Leader | Diamond Partner

@maisiewessex You sure can! 

Phil Vallender | Inbound marketing for B2B technology companies
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New Contributor

This is one of the worst product updates since being a partner agency with HubSpot (2011). Keywords are the foundation of search results. There should be NO REASON for removal. Bad move.

New Contributor

I couldn't agree more. Everyone who is against this needs to speak up so that HubSpot will make a change!