Google Keyword Planner: How to Use it Like a Pro

Google Keyword Planner_ How to Use it Like a Pro

One of the most powerful SEO tools available today is free. We’re not talking about just any random free tool, but one of the world’s best, designed by the world’s leading search engine, Google. The tool is Google Keyword Planner.

Anyone looking to optimize their website for search engines should take advantage of Google Keyword Planner. The tool provides invaluable insight into what keywords are being searched for, how competitive they are, and, most importantly, their search volume.

Moreover, Google Keyword Planner is incredibly easy to use. Simply type in a keyword or phrase related to your business or industry in the search bar and let the tool work its magic.

What’s Google Keyword Planner? Why Should You Use It?

Google Keyword Planner is a tool designed by Google to help businesses and website owners find and bid on the most relevant and effective keywords for their Google Ads campaigns. However, it’s not only useful for those looking to run ads but also for SEO enthusiasts.

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Suffice it to say, it’s one of the most underrated and underutilized tools in the SEO world. 

First, the data it brings is from Google itself, the most popular search engine globally, which makes it extremely reliable. Second, it’s simple to use, making it accessible to everyone from beginners to seasoned SEO professionals.

Here’s the Information You Can Get from Google Keyword Planner:

  • Search Volume: The number of times a keyword is searched for in a specific period.
  • How Much Advertisers are Paying: The cost per click (CPC) advertisers are paying for a particular keyword.
  • Keyword Difficulty: A numerical value that represents the competitiveness of a keyword, with a higher number indicating higher competition.
  • Related Keywords and Phrases: Suggested keywords and phrases related to your search term, along with their search volume and CPC data.
  • Local and Global Monthly Searches: The number of times a keyword is searched for in a specific geographic area or globally.

Using this information, website owners can identify the most relevant keywords to target, optimize their content and website accordingly, and improve their chances of ranking higher in search results.

Why Should You Use Google Keyword Planner?

  • It’s free: Yes, 100% free. Unlike many other SEO tools that come with a hefty price tag, Google Keyword Planner is completely free to use.
  • It’s reliable: As mentioned earlier, the data comes directly from Google, making it highly accurate and trustworthy.
  • Organize: With Google Keyword Planner, you can create and organize keyword lists, making it easier to keep track of your targeted keywords.
  • Competitive Spying: By analyzing the CPC data, you can gain valuable insights into what keywords your competitors are targeting, helping you stay ahead of the game.
  • New Keyword Ideas: The tool provides related keyword suggestions, giving you new ideas and opportunities for your SEO strategy.
  • Search Volume Trends: Get the exact search volume for a keyword and see how it has changed over time, helping you plan your content strategy more effectively.
  • Export Data: You can easily export the data from Google Keyword Planner to CSV or Google Sheets for further analysis and manipulation.

Who said SEO has to be complicated and expensive? With Google Keyword Planner, you have a reliable and accessible tool at your disposal to uncover a world of SEO opportunities.

With that said, let’s dive into some pro tips on how to use Google Keyword Planner like the pro you were meant to be.

How to Set Up Your Google Keyword Planner Tool

Step #1: Open a Google Ads Account First

To use Google Keyword Planner, you’ll need a Google Ads account. If you don’t have one already, head over to ads.google.com and create one.

Open a Google Ads Account First

Click “Start Now” and follow the instructions provided to set up your account. You’ll need to provide basic information, including your business name, website URL, and billing details (don’t worry, you won’t be charged for using Keyword Planner).

You may also be prompted to choose your main advertising goals (Get More Calls, Get More Website Sales and Leads, Get More Visitors to Your Physical Location, etc.), or Get More Views for Your Videos).

Lastly, confirm your account settings by choosing your Billing Country, Time Zone, and Currency.

Lastly, confirm your account settings by choosing your Billing Country, Time Zone, and Currency.

Once you’ve completed the steps, your Google Ads account will be set up, and you can move on to the next step.

Click “Explore Keyword Planner” to access the tool.

Step #2: How to Use Google Keyword Planner

Now that you have your Keyword Planner open, the next step is to get familiar with how it works. Here’s a quick rundown of how you can use it:

Use it to Generate Keyword Ideas and Organize Them

First, click “Discover New Keywords” to generate new keyword ideas.

First, click _Discover New Keywords_ to generate new keyword ideas.

A modal popup will appear prompting you to enter a keyword or phrase related to your business or industry. You can enter as many as ten keywords at once, separated by commas.

For example, if your business is a digital marketing agency, you can enter “digital marketing,” “SEO services,” “content marketing,” and so on.

Next, enter your site’s URL to filter out the services, products, and content that you don’t offer.

Next, enter your site's URL to filter out the services, products, and content that you don't offer.

That way, Google will scan your website and only suggest keywords relevant to your business.

Click “Get Results” to view your keyword ideas.

On the next page, you’ll see a list of keywords related to your search term, along with their respective search volume, CPC data, and competition level. Use this information to select the most relevant and effective keywords for your business.

You can even download the list by clicking on the “Download Keyword Ideas” link at the top-right corner of the page.

You can download the list as Google Sheets or CSV, where you can further manipulate and analyze the data.

You can select the keywords that make the most sense for your business by checking the box before each keyword. Once you’ve made your selections, you can proceed to download the list.

Here’s what your data will look like:

You can select the keywords that make the most sense for your business by checking the box before each keyword. Once you've made your selections, you can proceed to download the list.

Targeting Option

As you can see, you have a long list of keyword suggestions to choose from, each with its search volume, CPC, and competition level. 

You want to narrow down your options and focus on the keywords that align with your business goals and target audience. So, if you want to rank in Singapore, for example, you can filter the results by targeting Singapore as your location. That way, you’ll only see keywords with search volume and CPC data specific to Singapore.

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Just click on the location icon at the top of the page, and a modal will appear where you can enter your desired location.

Just click on the location icon at the top of the page, and a modal will appear where you can enter your desired location.

Once you’ve selected a location, the data will automatically update to show only keywords that are relevant to your chosen area.

Once you've selected a location, the data will automatically update to show only keywords that are relevant to your chosen area.

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Click “Save” to apply your location filter.

You can also refine your search results by other factors like language, date range, and keyword text include or exclude.

Customize and Filter Your Search

You can customize your search and filter your results even further by playing around with the different filter options.  First, you can broaden your search by adding more relevant keywords. Simple, just click on any keyword you find relevant next to “Broaden your search” to add it.

First, you can broaden your search by adding more relevant keywords. Simple, just click on any keyword you find relevant next to _Broaden your search_ to add it.

Click on “Get Results” once you’ve made your selection. 

To narrow down your search, you can filter by:

  • Keyword Text Include (The keywords you add under “Broaden Your Search”): Show results that include a specific word or phrase.
  • Keyword Text Exclude: Exclude a specific word or phrase from the results shown, the words you do not want to see in your results. 
  • Average Monthly Searches: Filter results to show only keywords with a certain number of average monthly searches.
  • Three Months Change: Filter results based on search volume trends over the past three months. It compares the average monthly searches for that keyword over the last three months to the same period in the previous year. You can see if a keyword is trending up or down based on this data. It will indicate 0% if there hasn’t been any change in search volume over the past three months.
  • YoY Change: Filter results based on search volume trends over the past year. It compares average monthly searches for that keyword in the last year to the previous year, indicating if a keyword is trending up or down.
  • Competition: Filter results based on competition level. You can choose between Low, Medium, and High.
  • Ad Impression Share: If you’re already running ads on Google, you can filter results based on your Ad Impression Share. This metric shows the percentage of views your ad received compared to the estimated number of times it could have been shown.
  • Top of Page Bid (Low Range): Filter results based on the lower range bid for keywords that appear at the top of Google’s search result page.

Organizing Your Keyword Ideas

Once you’ve narrowed down your keyword list, it’s time to organize them into ad groups. Ad groups are categories of related keywords that you can use to create targeted ad campaigns or topic clusters on your website.

To do this, click on the Keyword View drop-down icon next to Columns and select Group View.

To do this, click on the Keyword View drop-down icon next to Columns and select Group View.

You’ll see a list of groups that Google has already created for you. Clicking on the drop-down icon on each group will show you the keywords in that specific group.

Selecting Your Preferred Keywords and Adding Them to Your Plan

Now that you have a list of keywords and ad groups, it’s time to add them to your plan.

First, tick the box next to the keyword you want to add. A new menu (in blue) will pop up, allowing you to add the keyword to your plan. 

Column #1

First, tick the box next to the keyword you want to add. A new menu (in blue) will pop up, allowing you to add the keyword to your plan.

Plan: This option adds the keyword to your master list of saved keywords. You can access this list by clicking on the “Keyword Planner” tab at the top of the page.

Existing Campaign: If you’ve already created an ad campaign, you can add the keyword to that specific campaign.

Column #2

Column #2

You have three options:

Add As Grouped: With this option, you can add the keyword to the auto-generated group, as it appears on the list.

My Business: Add the keyword to a custom group that you’ve created under “My Business”.

Create Ad Group: This option allows you to create a new custom group and add the keyword to it. 

Column #3

Column #3

You have three options:

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  • Broad Match: This option allows your ad to appear when a user searches for any phrase or keyword related to your target keywords, in any order.
  • Phrase Match: This option allows your ad to appear when a user searches for the exact phrase you’ve specified, with additional words before or after it.
  • Exact Match: This option only shows your ad when someone searches for the exact keyword or phrase, without any additional words before or after it.

We suggest you go with Exact Match for more targeted and relevant results. Pick as many relevant keywords as you want and add them to your plan using the steps above.

 How to Generate More Keyword Ideas

The keywords Google generates are based on relevance. Google is all about relevance, after all. So, once you’ve added a keyword, it generates similar or related keywords that you can use. For example, if you include the keyword “Doctor in Singapore”, the keyword planner will generate additional keywords like “Family doctor in Singapore” or “Singapore general practitioner”.

It isn’t very creative, but it’s effective. However, sometimes you may want to generate more unique and creative keyword ideas. Here are a few tips for doing so:

  • Think like your target audience: Consider what phrases or words your potential customers would use when searching for your product or service.
  • Use Google Suggest: Type in a relevant keyword on Google Search and see what related keywords are suggested in the drop-down menu.
  • Look at your competition: See what keywords your competitors are using for their ads or website content. This can give you insight into what keywords are effective in your industry.
  • Use keyword research tools: There are many online tools available that can help generate keyword ideas and provide data on search volume and competition for each keyword.
  • Be specific: Sometimes, niche or long-tail keywords can be more effective than broad keywords. Be specific in your keyword selections to narrow down and target your audience more effectively.
  • Use Google’s People Also `Ask feature: This feature appears at the bottom of Google’s search results and shows related questions that people are searching for. These can provide ideas for long-tail keywords or related topics to target.
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How to Sort the Generated Keyword Ideas by Volume

Google no longer gives the exact search volume for keywords in the keyword planner. Instead, it provides a range (0 – 10, 10 -100, 100 – 1K, etc.). 

Google no longer gives the exact search volume for keywords in the keyword planner. Instead, it provides a range (0 - 10, 10 -100, 100 - 1K, etc.).

To sort the generated keyword ideas by volume, click on the Avg. Monthly Searches column header.

This will organize the keywords from highest to lowest search volume, helping you identify which keywords have a higher potential for reaching a larger audience.

Keep in mind that high search volume doesn’t necessarily indicate higher competition or effectiveness. You’ll have to analyse other metrics, such as competition level and ad impression share, to determine the best keywords for your campaign.

Competition

You can make Google Keyword Planner only show you ‘Low’, ‘Medium’, or ‘High’ competition Keywords. This is a great feature to use if you want to focus on less competitive keywords and potentially have a higher chance of ranking for them.

Remember Google Keyword Planner was designed 100% for ads, not SEO. This means that the competition data you see for keywords may not always be accurate for organic search results.

Additionally, you can also use the “Competition” filter when generating keyword ideas to only show keywords with a specific level of competition. This can help narrow down your options and focus on keywords that align with your SEO goals and strategy.

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Ad Impression Share

Ad Impression Share

This metric only applies if you already have an ad campaign running. It shows the percentage of impressions your ad received in relation to the total number of eligible impressions for that keyword.

This can be a helpful metric to consider when selecting keywords, as it can give insight into how competitive a keyword is and whether or not your ads are getting enough exposure for that keyword. If your ad impression share is low, it may be worth considering targeting a different keyword with less competition. 

Since we’re only focusing on SEO here, ad impression share may not be as relevant. However, it can still provide useful information on the potential competition for a keyword and help you make decisions when selecting keywords for your SEO strategy.

Top of Page Bid (low range)

This metric shows the lowest estimated cost-per-click bid needed to place your ad at the top of the search results page for that keyword. This can give you an idea of how much competition there is for that keyword and what other advertisers are willing to pay to advertise for it.

Again, this may not be as relevant for SEO purposes, but it can still provide insight into the competition for a keyword and help you make decisions when selecting keywords for your SEO efforts.

Top of Page Bid (high range)

Similar to the low range, this metric shows the highest estimated cost-per-click bid needed to place your ad at the top of the search results page for that keyword. 

The amount shown in the high range is usually higher than the low range, indicating that there may be more competition for that keyword and a higher cost to advertise for it. 

Ideally, you would want to target keywords with a lower top-of-page bid range to reduce competition and potentially lower your advertising costs. However, keep in mind that higher-bidding advertisers may still be able to outbid you for that keyword.

Should You Build Your Content Clusters Around These Keywords?

The best content that ranks highly in search engines is not created around specific keywords but rather provides valuable and comprehensive information on a particular topic or theme. This means that you should not solely rely on keyword research to guide your content strategy.

Instead, use the keyword ideas generated by the planner as a starting point to identify topics and trends related to your business. Then, focus on creating high-quality and informative content that addresses these topics and provides value to your audience. 

For example, if your business is in the fitness industry and you find that “weight loss” is a highly searched keyword with low competition, don’t just create content targeting that keyword. Instead, consider creating a series of articles on different aspects of weight loss, such as nutrition, exercise, and mental health.

Break down these topics into smaller, long-tail keywords to use throughout your content and make it more specific and targeted.

How to Make the Most of Google Keyword Planner

While Google Keyword Planner is a valuable tool for keyword research, it’s important to remember that it should not be your only source of your keyword ideas. 

There are many other tools and methods you can use to supplement your research and ensure you’re targeting the best keywords for your business. These include:

  • Google Trends: Use this tool to identify trending topics and see how search interest for certain keywords changes over time.
  • Keyword research tools such as SEMrush, Ahrefs, or Moz: These tools offer more comprehensive keyword data and can provide additional metrics to help you analyse the competition, user intent, and potential for ranking.
  • Online communities and forums: Look for discussions and questions related to your industry or niche to get ideas for relevant keywords.
  • Your own website analytics: Review the search terms that are driving traffic to your website and consider using those keywords in your content strategy.

Ultimately, effective keyword research requires a combination of tools and methods, as well as a deep understanding of your target audience and industry.

It’s a Wrap

There you have it – a comprehensive guide on using Google Keyword Planner to conduct keyword research for your business. Keep in mind that while this tool can be immensely helpful, it should not be the only factor influencing your content and SEO strategy.

Make use of the features and tips discussed in this guide to identify valuable keywords, analyze competition, and make informed decisions for your content and overall SEO efforts. Experiment with different strategies and regularly review and update your keywords to stay relevant and competitive in the ever-changing landscape of search engine optimization.

About the Author

Tom Koh

Tom is the CEO and Principal Consultant of MediaOne, a leading digital marketing agency. He has consulted for MNCs like Canon, Maybank, Capitaland, SingTel, ST Engineering, WWF, Cambridge University, as well as Government organisations like Enterprise Singapore, Ministry of Law, National Galleries, NTUC, e2i, SingHealth. His articles are published and referenced in CNA, Straits Times, MoneyFM, Financial Times, Yahoo! Finance, Hubspot, Zendesk, CIO Advisor.

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