Google Keyword Planner: The Ultimate Guide

Google keyword plannerGoogle Keyword Tool was an excellent tool for Keyword research But Google has killed it.

So what are you going to use for your keyword research?  You can pay for a keyword research tool or use this tool instead.

This article outlines how you use the Keyword planner.  If you want to make improvements to rankings  this is an insightful tool that will help.

How do I access it?

To get access to the tool you’ll need to create a google adwords account.  You don’t have to pay for any advertising but you do need to have an account.

If you don’t have a google adwords account start here – Creating a Google adwords account.

When you set up your account  and login select the ‘Tools and Analysis’ menu option followed by ‘Keyword Planner’.


Google Keyword Planner

Select the keyword planner option


What’s the difference between Google Keyword Tool and Google Keyword Planner?

1.  You access it through your Google adwords account.  So the interface is different and it’s more targeted at advertisers.  But you don’t have to advertise to use it.

2.  With Google keyword tool the default results used to show a ‘broad match’ for average search results.  If you wanted you could change this to phrase match or exact match.   In Google keyword planner you can only view exact matches on keywords (i.e. the average number of searches will be based on people typing in those exact keywords).

3.  You used to be able to view average searches for keywords broken down by device.  You can’t distinguish between devices with the new tool.  This means the average search for keywords will appear higher.

4.  You used to able to tell Google to show closely related terms to the keywords you enter.  This is no longer an option but rumor has it they are bringing this option back.

 How does a basic search work?

When you select Keyword planner you are given 3 options as follows:


Keyword Planner Options

Select one of 3 options


a). Search for keyword and adgroup ideas – Select this option if you want to perform normal keyword research where you just enter in your keywords and Google will show you the searches based on these keywords.

Google will also show you suggested adgroups based on this keyword and some advertising information.  The adgroups will have a selection of keywords similar to your keyword.

Google is thinking about how it can encourage you advertise using more than just the keywords you enter and that is why you get the adwords suggestions.

b). Enter or upload keywords to see how they perform –  Enter keywords or upload a file with keywords and get details related to ads you could run based on these keywords.  For example, you’ll see the average cost per click, estimated clicks etc.

c). Multiple keyword lists –  This allows you to create 2 lists of keywords and Google will come up with combinations of keywords based on multiple keywords.  For example, one keyword list could have locations and the second could have activities that you can do for any location.  So instead of typing in all the combinations Google will match them up.

Option 1 – Search for Keyword and Adgroup ideas

When you select the option to ‘Search for ‘keyword and adgroup ideas’ you are presented with the following screen:


Search for Keywords

Enter in the keywords you want to report on.


Here is a breakdown of the options:

Your product or service – Enter in the keywords you want to research.  Comma separate keywords if you want to enter more than one.

Your landing page  – This is where you run advertisements and bring people to a landing page.  Google will review this landing page to find out keywords that could be relevant to your campaign.  For keyword research you’ll probably leave this blank.

Your product category – This helps Google find more keywords as it will understand more about your keywords when it understands what category they belong to.  Only select this option if you find a category that closely matches your keywords.

Targeting –   You can set up various targeting options:

  • Location –   You can select all countries or specify particular countries.   Google will search results based on the countries you select.
  • Languages – Specify what languages you are interested in for results
  • Negative Keywords –  If there are particular keywords you want to exclude from your search enter them here.

Customize Your search – The following options are available

  • Keyword Filters – One important area for keyword research in this section is that you can specify the minimum keyword search volume.  If you want to find keywords that have a reasonable search volume you can specify a value here.  The average cost per click is a value you can enter such that only keywords with a higher or lower value than what you specify is 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 the amount of impressions (ad that is displayed) for the searches based on this keyword.
  • Keyword Options – You can 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.

When the results are displayed the default screen is the Adword groups.


Adgroup Ideas

A display of Adgroup ideas based on your search


The adgroups are sorted by relevance with the most relevant displayed first.  The average monthly searches is the total average for all keywords within the adgroups.  This is a 12 monthly average based on an exact match for these particular keywords.  For keyword research it is much better focussing on the exact matches.

To do further analysis on this list you can download it (top right hand area).  If you are happy with the list you can ‘add all’ which is adding these to your adwords account for advertising purposes.

If you click on any adgroup you can can see the keywords within this group.  As you can see all items in the group have at least 250 average searches which is as a result of the filters I set.


Adgroup Keywords

A list of all the keywords for a specific adgroup


Instead of selecting the Adgroup ideas you can select Keyword ideas.  This shows a breakdown by keyword only, not by adgroup.


Keyword Ideas

View a complete list of the keywords based on your search


One thing to be careful of is the keyword match types.  You can only view the average number of searches using an ‘Exact’ match.

In the right hand column there is an option to change results to Exact, Broad or Phrase, however this does not apply to search results.  This only applies to the click and cost estimates.


Keyword Match Types

These settings to not make any difference to the search volume results. These are always based on exact matches


Option 2 – Enter or upload keywords to see how they perform

Another option for doing keyword research is entering your own keyword or uploading your keywords (Ubersuggest is a good tool for finding alternative keywords).   The first option described above gives Google a chance to suggest a broad range of adgroups and keywords based on the keywords you suggest.

If you don’t want any suggestions use this option to enter in your keywords.


Google keyword planer - your keywords

You enter your own keywords


You’ve two options – Get estimates or Get search volume.  If you select get estimates this will give you an idea of the costs involved in advertising for these keywords.

If you select get search volume you will see the same results as using the ‘search for keywords and adgroups’ option except you will only see your keywords.



See the number of clicks and cost based on your budget

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.


Multiple Keyword Lists

A quicker way of writing up multiple keyword combinations


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


Although Google keyword tool is gone all is not lost!!  The keyword planner provides some really good keyword research options. You do need a Google adwords account but that doesn’t force you to advertise.

Will you use this tool or will you start investing in a paid tool for research?  How have you found this tool to use?  Have we missed anything?

Note: You should also review Google Webmaster Tools.

We would love to hear from you!

Note:  SEMRush is also good for keyword research.

photo credit: tarotastic via photopin cc

  • Sherman Smith

    Hey Ian,

    So far I like the keyword planner. I looks as though you can be more specific with your keywords as oppose to adwords keyword tool. I like your explanation here on the differences and how you can benefit from the planner. Thanks for sharing!

    • Ian Cleary

      Hey Sherman, I’m getting used to the keyword planner also and like it! Thanks so much for your feedback, it is really appreciated. Ian

  • Adam Finan

    Iv’e used Market Samurai fo rKW research. Will this be affected by the loss of the KW tool?

    • Dave Steer

      Market Samurai have issued an update to the tool to work with Keyword Planner. Works fine.

      • Ian Cleary

        Thank you Dave!

      • Adam Finan

        Cheers Dave.

      • AAshish Singh

        very nice bro

  • Bahson

    Good tool. I found your blog very interesting and focus . This is the one I have been looking for . Good job

  • az

    I tried using the keyword planner but found it very clumsy and tough to use. Keyword tool was better.

    • Ian Cleary

      It just takes a bit of time to get used to!

  • Ivaylo Kostov

    The another Google Planning Tool that I recommend is the new Google Display Planner which will provide 3 tools in only one place.

    • Ian Cleary

      He Ivaylo, thank you. I haven’t spent enough time with this but I’m going to now!!! Ian

  • Dimitris

    I am newcomer in promoting things through Google ,so I may have missed it : Among other things using Google Keyword Planner , there is a utility under the heading “billing”. How Google is paid ? Based on clicks in my site on the web ? I may be more clear : Does Google keep automatically a percentage based on total value of clicks I am getting in my web site ? Any helping hand will be greatly appreciated.
    Dimitris Minatidis

    • Ian Cleary

      Hi Dimitris, you advertise through Google adwords on a pay per click basis. If someone clicks on the ad you pay! To use the keyword planner you don’t need to advertise! Ian

  • Tiana

    But why did they take out the “match type” option. I that was a very helpful tool especially the “phrase option”. What was wrong with that?

    • Ian Cleary

      Hey Tiana, sorry no idea. Google does some odd things at times!!

    • Jeff Kingston

      So, you actually can still access the “match type” option. If you choose the “get search volume” option from the very beginning then you can use the “phrase match” and [exact match] options. You won’t get different search volume data, but the traffic estimates will vary. Hope that was helpful :)

  • Tiana

    Do anyone know any best alternatives?

    • Ian Cleary

      Hi Tiana, Longtail Pro is a good alternative.

  • Kerry Kimone

    Very useful. Thanks Ian. I use the keyword planner to get ideas for my blog posts.

    • Ian Cleary

      Thank you Kerry!

  • Andy Kuiper – SEO Analyst

    Nice tutorial Ian :-) I hadn’t know about multiple kw lists

    • Ian Cleary

      Thanks Andy!

    • AAshish Singh

      i agree with u realy very nice artical htpp://

  • Ashfak Shuman

    This useful post is the one I’ve been looking for ! Thanks Ian for your easy to understand explanation of Google Keyword Planner ! if possible write a tutorial on long tail pro too .

    • Ian Cleary

      Will to Ashfak, Sorry for the delay, i only just seen your comment!

  • Ryan Johnston

    Thanks Ian, Very helpful.

    • Ian Cleary

      Thanks Ryan, sorry only seen your comment!

  • t.b

    Me, being visual I felt your post is exceptional. I am a complete novice at all this stuff. I was very curious about Google Ad Words but you explained everything perfectly!!! 100 stars for you!
    Thank you,

    • Ian Cleary

      Thank you so much t.b. for you lovely comment. I like the step by step approach and visuals really help!

  • dean jackson

    heres a tip im using for my local biz its called day-parting. we saved a lot of money but scheduling our ads to appear during only business hours of the day. I guess theres a report (under the dimensions tab if I remember correctly) that allows you to analyze CPC and cost per conversion by hour of the day so you can just advertise during peak hours. We actually started a process of increasing our bids during those peak hours to push out our competitors during that time and we ended up reducing overall costs by doing this as well since its more targeted. Im actually having my friend simon manage our adwords account, if you want to speak with him just email him at or 302-401-4478. Tell him your friends with Dean Jackson.

  • Jane Margaret Nakiranda

    Hello Ian, thanks for this great article. It gives out all about Google Keyword Planner.

    • Ian Cleary

      Thanks Jane

  • Recreation_law

    Worthless. Create an ad words account and you can’t do anything except create an add. No money, no keywords. Try again to figure out what you are writing about.

  • AAshish Singh

    how to make my site popular can suggest any one to me also tell me wht is the problem in my site and wht need to be improvement for

  • MaxStravinsky

    Do I really have to give Google banking or cc info to set up an account and use their keyword planner?

    • MaxStravinsky

      I called their support and they told me that I do have to give that info, but to then ‘pause’ the account so I won’t be charged.

  • Juan

    I love keyword planner because it easy to use

  • TechBoozMe

    This is was the only tutorial I was searching for more than 30 minutes finally got the perfect tut. Thank you so much :)

    • Ian Cleary

      Thank you, glad it was useful!

  • Asif Rajan

    Hello, Good day,

    Very interesting !!

    i really would like to take part in this type of articles, great job in getting this together.Looking forward to hear from you



  • Larry Kim

    nice write up here!

    • Ian Cleary

      Thank you so much Larry, I love reading your articles so delighted you like this one!!

  • iAm Melissa

    Great post. The subject is very well explained. This is very good since among the keyword Research tool kweyword planner is the best for me.

  • Shahbaz Ahmed Bhatti

    Hi Dear Sir
    i am new in Google Adwords Planner, I Need som ehelp can u please help me

  • Louis Boyce

    Hi Ian, great article hope to use this to get me started on AdWords, thanks, Louis.

    • Ian Cleary

      Hi Louis, thanks for the feedback! Ian

  • Nick Convertd

    Hi Ian, great take on Keyword Planner, really clear & concise.

    Sorry to be posting links but here’s another take on Keyword Planner that you may find interesting?

    Let me know what you think, always good to be discussing & learning!

    Nice to meet you,


  • Lori

    Thanks Ian. I love the site and great tools. The Keyword planner is great and it works awesome, too. is there any other free keyword items to use?

    • Ian Cleary

      Hey Lori, thank you. is a a nice tool also.