It wasn’t long ago that SEOs were getting familiar with Keyword Planner, which replaced the old AdWords Keyword Tool. Launched last year, Keyword Planner introduced several new features while bidding farewell to some old standbys.
In this article, I’ll take a look at how marketers can use the Keyword Planner to uncover new opportunities for PPC and SEO. Here’s a look at what’s new.
What You’ll Learn:
- Differences between Keyword Planner and Keyword Tool
- How to gain access to Keyword Planner
- Google Ads Keyword Planner basics
- How to use Keyword Planner to:
First, a Rundown of Google Ads Keyword Planner vs. Keyword Tool
Now that SEOs have had a bit of time to get acquainted with Google Ads (previously Google AdWords) Keyword Planner, most have accepted the many changes that came with it.
Keyword Planner was introduced as a replacement to the Keyword Tool, which left many nostalgic for the features and functionality of the old tool.
But as time’s gone on, the Keyword Planner has become an invaluable tool in its own right.
The following are a few pros and cons of Google Ads’ Keyword Planner.
- Hyper-local Search Volume: This new feature allows users to view keyword volume based on a very specific geographical area. While the old keyword tool allowed users to search in either “local” or “global” columns, you can now target a specific city or area, a great tool for local SEO.
- New Ad Groups Tab: Keeping with the theme of the Keyword Planner being a PPC integrated tool, the Ad groups feature serves to help out with PPC advertising. However, it’s actually a great tool for seeing which keywords are related by topic. Google now reports the total search volume for this group of related keywords.
- Filter Out Keywords Below a Set Search Volume: Don’t want to see a keyword unless it has a search volume of 100 or more? No problem. This feature lets users filter out keywords if their search volume isn’t up to par.
- Goodbye Broad or Phrase Match: Exact match is now the only data that is displayed. Although exact match was usually the most accurate choice, the freedom to choose broad or phrase is now more difficult. However, broad and phrase still exist when AdWord users choose how keywords are added to campaigns.
- No More Searching for Related Terms: While other suggestions still arise, the option to see only closely related terms is now gone.
These were some of the more noticeable changes back when the tool was first introduced. Since then, it’s only gotten better.
We’ll talk more about all the Keyword Planner has to offer below.
How to Gain Access to the Keyword Planner
This might be annoying to users without a Google Ads account, but it’s worth pointing out that it’s not hard to “get in” to the platform.
However, signing up for Google Ads is free and users are no longer limited to 100 words when accessing the platform without signing in. Just sign up for an account if you haven’t already.
From there, you’ll be asked to set up a campaign. If you’re new to this platform, it might seem like the only way to access the feature is by launching your first campaign, but you can click here instead.
Then, click “Go to Keyword Planner” and start exploring.
Keyword Planner Basics–What’s Inside?
Before we get too deep into how to use Google Keyword Planner, here, let’s quickly go over what the Keyword Planner is supposed to do.
The tool is primarily used to help PPC marketers discover new keywords they can use in their paid search campaigns. But beyond that, the tool’s main benefits are as follows:
- Find search volume trends
- Review historical keyword data
- Find new keywords by typing in phrases, words, categories, or URLs.
- Review forecasts for average bid price or keyword performance.
- Filter keyword results based on location, language, dates, and more.
- View average monthly searches, competition level, suggested bids, impressions, and average organic position.
- Get stats and performance estimates, and get more specific by adding in targeting options like country, language, and search network to paint a more realistic picture.
- Filter your keyword list by criteria like average CPC, monthly average search volume, or include or exclude terms that are already listed inside your account.
Keep in mind that while all of these features are free for anyone to use, some of them require you to connect your Google Analytics account with your Google Ads account.
For the record, you should probably do this anyway, as RSLA campaigns, audience targeting, and detailed insights are easier to access after taking this simple step.
Find New Keywords in Google Keyword Planner
The most obvious way you can use the keyword planner? To find new keywords.
Once you know what keywords are related to your site, brand, niche, or a specific campaign, you’ll be able to use those keywords to improve the content and on-page SEO of your website.
Get started by logging into your Google Ads account and from there, navigate to the Keyword Planner.
While you can only add ten keywords into the Keyword Planner at a time, you can get your hands on more search terms by typing your ideas into the planner one by one. Add to plan, and select all.
Additionally, the new Keyword Planner allows you to generate ideas based on URLs you enter into the search bar.
The benefit here is that you can enter competitor URLs to find out which terms the competition is bidding on and capitalize on their keywords.
How to Use Google Keyword Planner to Get Keyword Forecasts
In the forecasting tab, you won’t find any keyword suggestions. But, you will find a whole host of data that can be used to inform your Google Ads strategy.
The Forecasting tab gives you a rundown of what you can expect if you decide to run a particular campaign. The forecasting tool also calculates estimated metrics like CTR, and CPC.
Sure, most of this data applies to advertisers, but forecasts are also a powerhouse for SEO users, too. To access this feature, navigate to the “Historical Metrics” tab and look for the 12-month average search volumes for your keywords.
Your forecasts are calculated based on past account performance and use your bid, budget, quality and other factors to come up with an estimate.
Additionally, the forecasting tool provides recommendations for how changing up your bidding strategy might help you reach your goals.
According to Google, forecasts apply to exact match terms only, as broad match terms will come with too many variables–especially given that negative keywords aren’t part of the equation.
How to Use Google Keyword Planner to Filter In-Plan Keywords
The new Keyword Planner allows you to search for new terms without listing the ones you’ve already been using.
Instead, it now shows you the terms you’ve already added to your account and lets you filter them out. Any new search immediately pulls up your in-campaign terms–you’ll see this in the “Account status” column.
Hyper-local Search Volume
This new feature allows users to view keyword volume based on a very specific geographical area.
In the old version of the tool, users were limited to “local” or “global” targeting. Today, you can target specific parts of your city, making this an ideal tool for local SEO.
Edit these settings by navigating to the Targeting panel above the graph. Here, you can access location settings, network settings, or language settings.
New Ad Groups Tab in Google Keyword Planner
Keeping with the theme of the Keyword Planner being a PPC integrated tool, the Ad groups feature aims to help PPC advertisers set up better-structured campaigns.
However, it’s actually a great tool for looking at keywords that are related by topic. Google now reports the total search volume for this group of related keywords, which may come in handy for SEO marketers coming up with a topic cluster strategy.
Filter Out Keywords Below a Set Search Volume
Don’t want to see a keyword unless it has a search volume of 100 or more? No problem.
This feature lets users filter out keywords if they fail to meet a certain threshold. What’s nice about this feature is that it allows users to cut out all of those extra terms that make it hard to assess what’s in front of you.
Find Competitive Keywords
High, medium, and low don’t cut it when it comes to defining whether or not a keyword is worth the bid. The Google Ads Keyword Planner now comes with detailed competitive rankings that bring more context into the mix.
Access this feature by opening up the column options tab in the report view. From there, you’ll simply click the box next to the word Competition and apply changes.
You’ll have the option to show competition with indexed value—which shows how competitive the placement for a particular word is. The benefit here is that if you’re a fan of bidding on low competition keywords, you’ll be able to set limits to ID those bargain terms.
Look at Volume and Trends Data with the Discovery Tool
PPC trends are another new addition to the Keyword Planner and can be used to gain deeper insights into which keywords are likely to be winners in your next campaign or are worth targeting in your organic content.
In the past, marketers hoping to get their hands on this information had to purchase a tool like SEMRush to download a list of insights. These days, Google users can download the trends report in a matter of clicks. Here, you’ll find historical data that you can use to inform your next big campaign–no CSV files required.
How to Get Exact Search Volumes
Unfortunately, Google still doesn’t publish exact search volumes, but luckily, you can follow these two simple steps to gain access to a long list of search terms with a couple of extra stats.
- Look at Estimated Impressions for Maximum CPC—Add some keywords to your campaign to get started. You can do this by manually adding keywords to the “Get search volumes and metrics” tool. Make sure that you select the exact match button to get started.
- Install the Keywords Everywhere Chrome Extension–This free tool adds CPC and search volume estimates to Google, Amazon, and YouTube, making finding keywords is as simple as searching for them. What’s more, according to Ahrefs, that functionality extends into the Keyword Planner tool. I’m not sure if Google will get wise to the hack, but in the meantime, it’s worth the download.
Size Up the Competition in Google Keyword Planner
Consider how much it costs to run PPC ads for the legal industry versus paying for your own branded search terms. Competition drives those bids up like nobody’s business. As such, high-competition keywords cost more on average per bid and it’s harder to get a top spot in the SERPs.
The Keyword Planner can help you find the words that best fit your budget by showing you how much other advertisers are paying for those terms.
Additionally, the tool will help you find keywords that better fit into your budget. Inside, you’ll find a suggested bid column, which shows how much bidders spend, on average, to rank in a top position for a particular keyword. The benefit to advertisers is, you’ll be able to see which keywords are within your budget and from there, can build your campaigns around those opportunities.
Make Sure You Consider Intent
Intent is huge in PPC—and Google ads is the perfect tool for reaching users who are actively searching for products, services, and information. Search intent refers to the reason someone is typing in a specific search—or what they’re trying to accomplish.
For example, when you search for a term like “window repair near me,” the searcher probably wants to get that problem fixed right away.
Terms like “what is the best accounting platform” are unlikely to result in an immediate purchase, but may help that user make a decision down the line.
Wrapping Up Google Ads Keyword Planner
The Keyword Planner tool is an essential piece of any search marketers toolkit, allowing users to find new ideas for ad groups, campaigns, or EAT-pleasing content.
I recommend that all Google Ads users get to know the lay of the land. Play around with the forecasting tools, use the keyword finder to ID competitor search terms, find organic content ideas, and look for low-hanging PPC fruit.