There are so many different options available for keyword research, ranging from free tools with basic capabilities to sophisticated solutions with a high price tag. Somewhere in between is Google’s Keyword Planner, a tool that replaced Google Keyword Tool a few years ago and changed the way SEOs and marketers use Google’s services for keyword research.
Unlike its predecessor, Keyword Planner is a part of the AdWords platform and it’s mainly targeted towards advertisers who use it to research keywords for their PPC campaigns. But don’t worry, you can still use Keyword Planner even if you don’t have active campaigns running on AdWords.
In this article, I’ll show you how to use this tool to find the right keywords for your blog posts and articles and improve your Google search rankings.
How to Access and Use Google AdWords Keyword Tool
To get access to the tool you’ll need to create a Google AdWords account. If you don’t have a google AdWords account start here – Creating a Google AdWords account.
When you set up your account and log in, click the “Tools” menu option and choose “Keyword Planner.”
You’ll see the following three options:
a) Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category – Select this option if you want to perform a standard keyword research. The tool will generate lists of keywords based on a seed keyword (or list of keywords), a landing page URL, or a product category you enter.
Google will also show you suggested ad groups and some advertising information. The ad groups will include a selection of keywords related to your entry. With these suggestions, the ad platform is encouraging you to advertise using more than just the keywords you enter.
b). Get search volume data and trends – This option lets you enter a list of keywords or upload your list in a CSV file to get search volume and trend data. It’s quite useful if you already have a list of keywords and you want to check how they would perform if you decide to run ads based on those keywords. However, it won’t help you generate new keyword ideas.
c) Multiply keyword lists to get new keywords – This option lets you create 2 lists of keywords and then Google will combine them to create new lists. Sometimes the combinations you get won’t make much sense, but Google will occasionally generate some pretty good keywords you most likely wouldn’t come up with yourself.
Here’s one way you can use this tool. You can add one list containing locations and another with activities that you can do for any location. Instead of typing in all the combinations, Google will match them up for you.
Option 1 – Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category
When you choose this tool, a menu appears with a list of options:
Let’s break down each of these options:
Your product or service – This is a very important option because here you’ll enter your seed keywords. To get the most relevant results, avoid entering broad industry terms and add in 1-3 specific niche keywords instead.
Your landing page – This option is primarily for Adwords users who are looking to run ads to bring people to a landing page. Google Keyword Planner will review the landing page to identify keywords that could be relevant to your campaign. For keyword research purposes, you’ll probably leave this blank.
Your product category – This option lets you access Google’s internal database of keywords for different product categories or industries. By understanding what category your keywords belong to, Google will generate more keywords suggestions. Only select this option if you find a category that closely matches your keywords.
Targeting – Once you’ve entered your information in one or more of the above tools, it’s time to choose your “Targeting” options.
- Location – You can select all countries or specify particular countries. Google will search results based on the countries you select.
- Languages – Here you can specify the languages you want to target with your search.
- Negative Keywords – If there are particular keywords you want to exclude from your search, enter them here.
Customize Your search – Here’s what each of these options means:
- Keyword Filters – If you want to find keywords that have a reasonable search volume you can specify a value here. You can also enter the average cost per click so that only keywords with a higher or lower value than what you specify are displayed. If you want to target keywords that are not that competitive you may specify a max value here. The ad impression share allows you to specify a threshold based on a number of impressions (ad that is displayed) for the searches based on this keyword.
- Keyword Options – Here you can specify how broad you want your results to be, disable the display of any ‘adult’ keywords and/or keywords that are already part of your AdWords account.
- Include/Exclude – You can include or exclude any particular keywords from your account.
When you’re ready, click the button ‘Get ideas’. For test purposes I selected the keywords ‘Social Media Tools’ and ‘Social Media Monitoring Tools’ and I specified that I only wanted to see keywords with at least an average of 250 search volumes per month globally.
The results will be displayed in the following screen:
As you can see, the Keyword Planner will show you search volume trends or average monthly searches for the specified period. Bellow, you’ll have the option to switch between ad group ideas and keyword ideas that Google generated based on the search parameters you’ve previously set.
The ad groups are sorted by relevance with the most relevant displayed first. The average monthly searches is the total average for all keywords within the ad groups. This is a monthly average based on the broad or closely related match (which you’ve specified previously in “keyword options” section) for those particular keywords. For keyword research, I recommend that you always focus on results that are closely related to your search term.
If you click on any ad group you’ll see the keywords within this group. As you can see all items in the group have at least 250 average searches, which is the result of the filters I’ve set.
Instead of selecting the Ad group ideas you can select Keyword ideas. This shows a breakdown by keyword only, not by ad group.
If you want to save your search, you can always add them to your advertising plan. Or, if you want to change the keyword, just click on Modify search.
Option 2 – Get search volume data and trends
Another option for doing keyword research in Google Keyword Planner is entering your own keywords or uploading your keyword list. The first option described above gives Google a chance to suggest a broad range of ad groups and keywords based on the keywords you suggest.
You can use this Keyword Planner option if you already have a list of keywords. You can either paste the list in the field or import it as CSV, TSV or plain text file. You can also use targeting and date range filters below the text field.
When you click the Get search volume button you will see the same results as using the first option except you will only see your keywords.
Option 3 – Multiple Keyword Lists
Multiple keyword lists is a quicker way of entering multiple keyword combinations. You create 2 lists with keywords as shown below.
Google combines the lists and searches for matches based on the keyword combinations. The following are the combinations that Google will use based on the list above:
Ireland Visitor Attractions, Ireland Tourism, Ireland Museums, England Visitor Attractions, England Tourism, England Museums, France Visitor Attractions, France Tourism, France Museums.
The Google keyword planner provides some really good keyword research options. You do need a Google AdWords account but that doesn’t force you to advertise.
Are you using Google Keyword Planner or a paid tool for keyword research?
We would love to hear from you!
Note: SEMRush is also good for keyword research.