Google’s Keyword Planner, formerly known as Keyword Tool, lets you assemble comprehensive lists of keywords for your PPC campaigns. Even if you’re not ready to launch a paid campaign, Keyword Planner is invaluable for determining the best keywords to attract traffic to your website. Read on to learn the basics of Keyword Planner and how to assemble your most powerful keyword list.

How Does Keyword Planner Work? A Step-by-Step Guide

Google collects massive amounts of data from its billions of users. With Keyword Planner, you can access that data to see which keywords generate the most traffic for the topic at hand. It takes a bit of diligence, but once you start researching your keywords, you’ll have a valuable list of keyphrases for both SEO and PPC efforts.

Essentially, the Google Keyword Planner Tool compiles related searches and allows you to see which keywords were most often used for those searches. This data gives you a firsthand look at what users are seeking. From there, you can identify the keywords preferred by your target audience.

Step 1. Start Generating Keyword Suggestions

You can access the Keyword Planner from a free Google Adwords account. Simply click the wrench icon labeled “Tools” and select “Keyword Planner.” There are two ways to use the tool:

Discover new keywords

You can find the keywords Google users prefer by entering your own keywords or letting Google analyze a site.

For the first method, select “Start with Keywords”, then enter one or more keywords/keyphrases associated with your business. The tool will show related keywords you’ll want to consider.

Get search volume and forecasts

If you already have a keyword list prepared, you can use Google Keyword Planner to see which keywords will be the most cost-effective. For each resulting keyword or key phrase, you will see the average estimated clicks and impressions, the cost-per-click, and the clickthrough rate.

This functionality is primarily geared toward PPC marketers, but your results also suggest which of your relevant keywords may generate the most traffic.

Step 2. Filter Your Keywords Results

Once you’ve generated your results, you’ll be able to narrow down your list by five factors:

Location: Set this to the geographic region you want to reach. If you’re marketing to multiple countries, you may want to compile separate lists for each location.

Language: As with Location, set this according to your target audience(s).

Search Networks: By default, this is set to Google, but you can also expand it to include other Google search engines (e.g. YouTube). For PPC planning purposes, stick to Google only. General SEO research may benefit from including the Google search partners as well.

Date Range: The default setting covers the latest 12 months, which is usually suitable for your research, In the rare occasion that you only want to see results for the past few months (e.g. a keyword has gained new meaning), you can adjust it accordingly.

Negative Keywords: This is where you can enter any keywords you don’t want to see in your results. For example, if your business sells pet toys and supplies but not food, you could enter “food” as a negative keyword.

Step 3. Narrow In On Your Best Opportunities

Some of your keyword results will have an extremely high volume, meaning lots of people are searching for them. This doesn’t necessarily mean you should target them: high volume means high competition. By using Google Keyword Planner’s Avg. Monthly Searches, Suggested Bid, and Competition metrics, you can filter out keyword results that aren’t worth your time or budget.

The Suggested Bid reflects the cost-per-click that other advertisers are using for your target audience. Make sure the suggested bid is lower than the potential value you’d generate from each click.

Then, Look for keywords with a decent volume (more than 10,000 searches per month but less than 1 million) and low to medium competition. Of course, if you’re researching for SEO, note that “competition” here only refers to paid-ad bidders, not the actual number of sites competing for that keyword. Overall, your relevant high-volume/low-competition keywords will be the most cost-effective for your PPC campaigns. And if there’s a lot of commercial interest in those keywords, they’re likely good target keywords for your SEO strategy as well.

Step 4. Analyze Your Site’s Performance In Your Target Keywords

If your website is connected to Google Search Console, you can compare your own rankings to your recommended keywords. In your keyword results, this will activate the “Organic Impression Share” and “Organic Average Position” metrics, which show how many times your site appears in the keyword’s search results and at what rank, respectively.

Step 5. Refine Your Keyword List

Remember, quality is always better than quantity, especially for PPC campaigns. Which would you prefer:

  1. Pay $2 per month for a keyword that will place you #1 in front of 300 users per month.
  2. Pay $1 per month for a keyword that will place you #5 in front of 600 users per month.

More often than not, the first option is better, as you’ll gain more clicks and therefore more conversions, even if your overall reach is smaller. Because a higher percentage of those 300 users convert, your ROI is higher.

Therefore, your ideal keyword mix favors the queries that help you outrank your competitors and drive the most qualified traffic to your site. Instead of bidding on every relevant keyword under the sun, focus on a few top-performers that appear to more of your target audience. For example, if your pet supply company’s optimal keywords revolve around “eco-friendly chew toys,” there’s rarely a point in spending money on the generic “dog toys” even if that volume is technically higher.

Wrapping Up

Google’s Keyword Planner tool is ultimately just that — a tool. Consider it a source of data that helps you craft a more effective PPC and SEO strategy. Remember, Google’s users and their queries change every month, so don’t get stuck on one keyword list! However, regular keyword research can help you develop ad campaigns with a higher ROI. Plus, it provides guidance for your SEO content and keyword optimization strategies.

In short, Google makes it easy to do your homework. Take some time to explore Google’s Keyword Planner and see which keywords best fit your business and target market. It’s your secret weapon for standing out among a crowd of competitors!