Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Market Samurai Tries To Kill Free Google Keywords Tool

Several people have recommended Market Samurai to me. Of course I was excited to see if I could get all the data I need for keyword research from a single tool. So I checked it out. 

I was sorely disappointed - enough that I have to boycott it.

What Is Wrong With Market Samurai?

When I started up the Market Samurai it asked my Google Adwords account login name and password. I have a major problem with that. 

I don't just give out my credentials to anyone. This software is installed on my PC where it can access web any way it likes.  

Worse, letting someone use my credentials to access Google Adwords API emulating user input violates the usage agreement of Google Adwords. That is a real problem. 

I Don't Want To Mess Up With Google

Traffic from search engines if the lifeblood of passive income business. Messing up with Google is a bad idea. A very bad idea. 

I'd love to say that the internet frees little bootstrapping companies, small businesses and individuals to take power to their own hands... but most of us get the lifeblood from Google and Microsoft, through their search engines. I guess there are some people working through social media who are not dependent on organic traffic. But most are. I surely am.

But... you say... The Google Adwords Keyword Tool is free, how can I violate anything?

Google Adwords Keyword Tool JSON API Is Not Free

Yes the Keyword Tool is free for human use, but the interface that external applications should use is not free. 

In practice Market Samurai is not using the pay interface, so the creator of the program may assure you that everything is fine. But that is like saying, 
"No I'm not trespassing. Yes, I did notice the sign at the gate. But Sir, I did NOT come here through that gate - I came over the fence."

The deal is, programmatic usage should be paid for. I'll bet that is how Google sees it. 

What Google Could Do?

Nowadays it is a common practise that applications and interfaces are opened up for non-commercial use and commercial users must pay. I like that business model as it helps common people to have free tools. 

If I had written and published API as free for non-commercial use and then someone would make a tool like this, I would be pissed off. I would be REALLY pissed off. I probably might consider closing up the free version. Google is a big company so maybe it can find other ways to plug the leak, but the risk is there. 

If offering the free tool makes it possible to bypass the pay-part, and lots of people do that, eventually it is worth closing up the free tool. 

So there is a real risk that eventually Google will consider closing up the Adwords Tool. Or they might opt that you need to have a company to access it, like Microsoft has done with their tool already.

Or, Google could just detect the traffic pattern that Market Samurai creates and ban those accounts. 

It all depends on how big a problem they think this is. 

How SBI Deals With The Same Problem?

SiteBuildIt! uses data from Keywords Tool too. 

To get the data into SBI tool, I first have to export my keyword list from the SBI tool and then log in to the Google Keywords Tool manually. I use the options in Keywords Tool to import my keyword list. When I get the results I'll export them into a file. Then I go back to the SBI tool and import the data there.

It is a bit complicated, but it is legal. 

Of course the same approach would not work for Market Samurai.

What Market Samurai Should Do?

The first thing that came into my mind was:
 "Why don't they just pay for the usage? Why take this risk?"
It just don't make any sense. They take a huge risk - and their customers take a huge risk. Worse, I'll bet most of the customers won't even realize that something is wrong.

Then I realized that the Market Samurai software is sold for a fixed price. It would not be a wise idea to let people pay once and then cause you costs forever. Also, it takes time to reprogram the software to use the gate instead of jumping over the fence.

I think that Market Samurai would need a major face-lift. It should be redone as web service.

It could utilize the "pay per use" subscription model. They could have, for example, a basic subscription with certain amount of searches per month. Then there could be a more pricey pro subscription option with higher amount of searches per month.

Overall, I do like the idea of Market Samurai and I'd love to have a tool like it. 

But the fact is - until the Market Samurai plays fair, I will not be using it.

No, I don't like to write negative posts. This has been laying in the drafts like a month already. But then I realized that not all people know that Adwords API is a pay interface. So if I can help people by providing this information, maybe it is worth it.


  1. Check out Keyword Strategy. I have been using it for my passive income project and love it. I *think* they "play fair" as you put it. I have used Market Samurai and liked it but did not love it -- mostly due to the interface. I didn't really consider the issues you raised above, though I should have.

    You may also get some value from this podcast. This is where I learned about Keyword Strategy.

    1. Hi Pierre, thanks for the tip. I'll check it out.

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