What is Google’s Keyword Planner? And what is it used for?
The Keyword Planner tool is designed to help marketers discover important keywords and to find data for certain keywords like search numbers, competition, and ad pricing.
If you have just begun your search engine marketing journey, a great place to start is with keyword research. If you’re already using Google Ads (formerly called AdWords) or plan to start incorporating search ads into your marketing strategy, Google’s Keyword Planner is a great tool to get you started.
Before we dive into Keyword Planner and how it works, we will give a brief explanation of keyword research and why it is important for both organic and paid digital marketing campaigns.
What is keyword research and why is it important?
If you are new to search engine marketing, know that keyword research is arguably one of the most important steps in optimizing your website to perform better in the SERP.
Keyword research is a core task in SEO that involves identifying popular words or phrases that are relevant to your business or industry in order to figure out what to rank for. Many businesses start by making a list of keywords that are relevant to their business but once you have that list you have to begin evaluating which keywords will work best for your individual campaigns and site pages.
Keyword research helps you better understand the demand for individual keywords and how hard it would be to compete for those terms in organic and paid search results. Understanding the competition will better help you adjust your strategy and optimization efforts to rank better in the SERP.
Proper keyword research should provide you with a variety of ways searchers may be using language to find products or information in the SERP. It can also help you find new content ideas, learn more about your audience, and keep you up to date on industry jargon.
Ultimately, by doing proper keyword research, you should be able to create targeted content to help drive traffic and conversions directly to your website. While there are a number of keyword research tools available, if you are using Google Ads, Keyword Planner is a great way to begin your research and start new campaigns.
What is Google Keyword Planner?
Google’s Keyword Planner is designed to help you research keywords to use in your Search Network campaigns. It is a handy free tool that allows you to discover keywords related to your business and see the estimated monthly searches they receive as well as the costs to target them.
Google Ads Keyword Planner is used for:
- Discovering new search keywords
- Seeing average monthly search numbers for keywords
- Helping to determine costs
- Creating new search ad campaigns
Discovering New Keywords
When you begin researching possible keywords to use in your campaign, Keyword Planner can provide suggestions for related keywords. This is great if you do not really know where to start as far as finding keywords for your pages.
For example, you can begin by typing in more broad search terms such as “men’s t-shirts” or “t-shirts for men,” and Keyword Planner will show you the insights on those keywords as well as a list of related keywords.
The broader your initial keywords are, the more suggestions you will see, however it is not recommended to be too specific or too general. For example, instead of starting with “men’s t-shirt”, you could start with the style of t-shirt you are looking to sell like “men’s crew neck t-shirts.”
See Average Monthly Searches
Another benefit of using Keyword Planner is that you are able to view the estimated monthly searches for keywords. Knowing how frequently keywords in your industry are searched for is extremely important for your campaign. You wouldn’t want to target keywords that no one is using but you also don’t want to target keywords that have a ridiculously high search volume because they tend to be more competitive.
It also helps you understand what keywords or phrases people are using most frequently to discover certain products or information. Understanding the user and how they will be searching for your products is particularly important for your campaign and strategies.
Typically, the broader a keyword is, the more monthly searches it has; the more specific the fewer monthly searches it has. Depending on your strategy, you may be more focused on the more specific queries to help you reach people who are ready to buy.
Discover Costs for Keywords
The cost of keywords you wish to target is another important aspect to consider for your campaign. Luckily, Keyword Planner provides the average cost for your ad to show on searches for a keyword, so it is easier to pick and choose which keywords best suit your strategy and budget.
Typically, if the average monthly search is higher, costs are typically higher as well because there is a lot of competition for those keywords. If the average monthly search is lower the result is typically the opposite however there are exceptions depending on the industry you are in.
Remember though, the cost of your ads will be determined by a range of factors including your keywords, you budget settings, and your Quality Score.
Creating New Campaigns
Because Keyword Planner was created to use with Google Ads, it allows you to easily create new campaigns based on in-depth keyword research.
Creating a campaign allows you to select a recommended budget or enter a custom daily budget based on your own needs. Once your campaign is implemented, you can access it under the “Tools & Settings” icon in Keyword Planner making it easy to see your campaign from start to finish all in one place.
Although Keyword Planner was designed to be used with Google Ads, please note that it is still a valuable tool for SEO keyword research and planning as well. Many marketers try to make sure that their paid ad campaign and their SEO campaign are aligned so that they can optimize traffic for their best keywords across both marketing strategies.
To use Keyword Planner you need to first have a Google Ads account, and to have started the process of setting up your ad campaigns, ad groups, and the ads themselves.
Next you can look for keyword ideas by typing them in directly to Keyword Planner, or adding a URL.
Once you’ve found the keywords you want to use, you can ad them to your plan by clicking the “+” sign next to the keywords ad them to your ad groups.
How to use Keyword Planner
One of the greatest benefits of using Keyword Planner is that it is free to use, however when you try to access the tool it asks you to set up a Google Ads campaign first. If you’re already planning on using Keyword Planner for your paid search ads, then setting up a campaign shouldn’t be a big deal, however even if you don’t plan on using it for ads, Google still asks you to set up a campaign.
There are simple ways to bypass this create-a-campaign prompt but let us assume you are using Keyword Planner for your paid ads because that is what the tool is intended for. Once you have access to keyword planner you have two options to get started:
- “Find Keywords”
- “Get Search Volume and Forecasts”
Find keywords allows you to enter your keyword ideas and discover similar keywords that help you reach people interested in your products or services. Get search volume and forecasts allows you to see the search volume and historical metrics for your desired keywords as well as forecasts for future performance.
In find keywords, Google instructs you to enter words, phrases or URLs related to your business and the it responds with your entered keywords as well as keyword suggestions. Each suggestion includes information on the average monthly searches, competition, and the high and low costs for the top of the page bid that we mentioned before.
This tool is also great for scoping out your competitions keyword strategies as well. If you enter a URL instead of a keyword or phrase, you can spy on your competitors and steal keywords that they use often on their site. All you have to do switch over to start with a website and paste in the URL to see all the keywords that are targeted on that website.
In the search volume and forecasts option, there are not any keyword suggestions. Instead, it shows how many clicks and impressions you can expect if you decide to run an ad for your chosen keywords on Google Ads. You will also see the estimated costs, the click-through-rate and the cost-per-click.
This feature is really helpful if you have a long list of keywords and want to check their search volume. It does not, however, offer ideas for keywords. All you have to do is copy and paste your list of keywords into the search field and select “Get Started.”
Both tools show the same Keywords Results Page, the information on them is just slightly different depending on which you choose.
Utilizing the Keywords Results Page
Once you arrive at the Keywords Results Page, you can then filter and sort the results to get the most out of the Keyword Planner tool.
At the top of the Keyword Results Page there are four targeting options: Locations, Language, Search networks and Date range.
Location allows you to select the country or countries that you wish to market to. Most of the time you can leave these options alone unless you want to start targeting users outside the default demographics.
Language is the language of the keywords you want information on. The default for the United States is automatically English, so in most cases you will be leaving these options alone. Search networks refers to whether you only want to advertise on Google or one of their search partners. The date range is typically set at 12 months, and it is typically recommended to leave it as is.
The next most important feature is the Add Filter option that appears above your suggested keywords. There are several filtering options available including keyword text, exclude keywords, exclude adult ideas, average monthly searches, competition, Ad impression share and top of page bid.
Organic impression share and organic average position are also two features available in keyword planner, however, in order to use these features, you will need to connect your Google Search Console Account to your Google Ads account.
Among the most important of these filters for your general keyword research are keyword text (included or excluded), average monthly searches, competition and the top of page big filters.
The keyword text option can help you search for keywords that exclusively contain or exclude specific words or phrases. This is helpful for finding more specific keywords or phrases like a specific shirt color or style. You can also use this filter to exclude things like brand names to help you find keywords that your competition is using like the example we mentioned earlier or use it to filter for question type words like the 5 W’s (Who, What, When, Where, Why).
The average monthly search option allows you to filter out keywords with high search volumes or low search volumes. Again, if the search volume is extremely high there is typically more competition, so it is unlikely you will want to target these. Similarly, if the search volume is extremely low you might not feel that it’s worth it to target those keywords.
Competition is usually listed at low, medium or high, and you can filter these results as well. It is important to remember though that Keyword Planner was designed exclusively for Google Ads. So, if you are using it for SEO, these results are not accurate, and it is recommended that you leave this option blank.
Lastly are the top of page bid options. For this filter you actually have two options: low range and high range. Essentially these options show how much you can expect to pay for your ad to appear at the top of the page for that keyword. If you have a low ad budget, these filters will help you find the keywords that best fit your strategy.
Now that you know how to filter and use the many tools available in Keyword Planner, you can better analyze the keywords in the ideas section and find the best options for your campaign strategy. Whether you are using Keyword Planner for paid ads or SEO, it is a really great tool for discovering new ways to reach users and potential customers.
This article was originally published on RaddInteractive.