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.
click the “Tools” menu option and under “Panning” choose “Keyword Planner.”
You’ll see the following two options:
1. Find keywords – Select this option if you want to perform a standard keyword research. The tool will generate lists of keywords based on a seed keyword, a phrase, or a landing page URL.
Google Keyword Planner will list the keywords based on relevance and show you some advertising information, including average monthly searches, competition level, and top of the page bid. With these keyword suggestions, the ad platform is encouraging you to advertise using more than just the keywords you enter.
2. Get search volume and forecasts – This option lets you enter a list of keywords to get performance forecasts for your keywords as well as the historical statistics i.e. average monthly searches. The tool will display a range, not an exact number.
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.
Option 1 – Find keywords
When you choose this tool, a search box appears where you can type in your keywords, key phrases, or a URL of a webpage or entire website (you can only search for one URL at a time).
As you type in, the Keyword Planner tool will recognize whether it’s a keyword or an URL in which case it will give you the option to choose whether you want to look for keywords relevant to the entire website or for that specific page.
It’s important to note that the value of the results you get depends on the information you type in here so you need to choose the seed keywords or URLs carefully.
The results will be displayed in the following screen:
Now, there are a few things you can do from this screen to make the keyword ideas more relevant:
- Specify the location you want to target from the top left menu and select the language and search networks
- Add filters to narrow down your results (there’s a filter icon at the top right corner) based on the keyword text, average monthly searches, competition, etc., or exclude keywords already in your plan/account.
- Specify the date range. This can be very useful if you are looking for keywords that are trending on Google Search.
When you’re done with filtering your results, Keyword Planner will show you the following data:
- Average monthly searches for the specified period. This is presented as a range e.g. 1K-10K, while in the previous version of the tool you could see the exact number of avg. monthly searches for each keyword.
- Competition. This shows how competitive ad placement is for a given keyword based on the targeting criteria you previously set.
- Top of page bid (low range). Here you can see the lower range of what other advertisers paid historically for the top of page bid for a keyword.
- Top of page bid (high range). The higher range of what advertisers paid for a keyword’s top of page bid.
If you’re happy with your search and want to save keyword ideas, just select the keywords you’re interested in and add them to your advertising plan or to a new ad group.
If you’re using Keyword Planner just for the purpose of researching keywords for your content and have no plan to advertise on Google, you can always download a CSV report with your keywords and the accompanying stats.
Option 2 – Get search volume and forecasts
Another option for doing keyword research in Google Keyword Planner is entering or pasting your own keywords. This is useful if you’ve already created a list of keywords and want to check the search volume, historical metrics, and how they may perform in the future.
When you click the Get Started button you will see the same results as using the first option except you will only see your keywords. You’ll also be able to see the historical metrics for your keywords as well as the forecast for your plan based on your default maximum CPC bid.
Here’s an example forecast for the test keywords I used:
Note: this is only relevant if you plan to run an AdWords campaign targeting the keywords on your list.
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.