Do search engines collect keyword data?

In short, yes! Juarez and Torra (2013) summarise how search engines collect this keyword data:

  • Search engines record the keywords you have used and store them as a server log
  • These logs also store your click-through data (i.e. what you have actually viewed and clicked on)
  • A profile is matched to this record and this profile delivers personalised results

Search engines and your keywords

Grimes et al (2008) suggest that these profiles contain a persons’ area/s of interest, location, age or gender.

Keyword research

Search engines do allow you to access keyword data, Google offers this for free via their AdWords feature, but there are other sources which offer you a bigger range of keyword data.

Keyword Discovery (no date: online), for example, allows paid users to access billions of keyword data whereas Google, in comparison, has a much smaller collection of keyword data because Google is not the only worldwide search engine. This also suggests that other search engines may have lower numbers of users but those who do use unpopular search engines, such as, 7search or AOL, may carry out more searches using that search engine. See this comparison from link three in the references at the end of this post.

It is important to note, however, that Keyword Discovery include Amazon as a search engine when, arguably, a lot of people would not think of associating Amazon as a search engine. Amazon does have a search box and does allow users to search for products by using keyword searching. So Amazon is a search engine.

Posted by Gerald Murphy


  1. Grimes C, Tang D, Russell DDM. (2008) Query logs alone are not enough. In: Workshop on query
    log analysis
  2. Juarez, M. and Torra, V. (2013) Toward a Privacy Agent for Information Retrieval. International Journal of Intelligent Systems. 28 [issue number missing] pp. 606-622
  3. Keyword Discovery. [Online] [Accessed on 24th May 2013]

2 responses to “Do search engines collect keyword data?

  1. Very true on how the search engines are gathering information about you to help target content to the end user. Some might this it is ok, others might think there is a point they will cross the line.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s