How to Use the Google Keyword Planner for SEO
If you’ve ever run a Google ad, you’ve probably come across the glory that is the Google Keyword Planner Tool. Easy to use and loaded with wildly useful information, learning how to use the Google Keyword Planner is pretty critical to your success in SEO.
Despite its user-friendly interface, it’s fair to say that for beginners, the tool can be a bit overwhelming. Knowing which options to use and how to use them is going to make or break the usefulness of the Keyword Planner for you. Read through this quick-start guide to get the plain-English breakdown on how it works, and what it all means to you.
How to Get Access
The first thing to note is, while the Google Keyword Planner is technically a free tool, access is not actually free. Here’s what I mean by that.
The Google Keyword Planner Tool is just one tool in the Google AdWords arsenal, and to get access, you have to first set up an account. That means creating an ad campaign – and yes, they’re going to want your credit card number for that.
If you’re not ready to create your first campaign yet, there’s actually an easy fix for that. As you begin setting up your AdWords account, just go through the motions and set up what is essentially going to be a placeholder ad.
Once that’s in place, go to your campaigns and pause the ad. Nothing gets charged, and you still have access to the AdWords suite – easy peasy. Then, when you have your list of SEO-magic-makin’ keywords, you can come back to your campaign, get it edited, and unpause the campaign.
Unfortunately, without setting up an account and at least forking over your payment information, there’s no other way to get access to the Keyword Planner Tool.
How to Use the Keyword Planner Tool
Once you’re in, just click on the ‘Tools’ menu at the top of the screen, and select ‘Keyword Planner’ from the drop down menu.
Option 1: ‘Find new keywords and get search volume data’
This is the meat and potatoes of the Keyword Planner tool, and where you get the information you need to turn a profitable, effective PPC campaign. Let’s get started.
Search for new keywords using a phrase, website, or category
This is essentially a keyword suggestion tool, and while it’s very handy for giving you ideas for new content, quite honestly, you can do the same thing over here with Text Tools, and the process is a lot simpler. For the sake of being thorough though, I’ll cover it here.
First, start with what you’re looking for keywords in relation to. In our semantic keyword analysis, this is just the keyword you start with to get the list from our software. The same works with the Google Keyword Planner Tool, so you can start with whatever your target page is all about.
Here I used ‘chicken’ as an example. From there, you can adjust the filters to make sure you’re not overwhelmed with results, from placing location restrictions on the suggestions to minimum search volume data. For the most part, this can all remain at their default settings. If you get overwhelmed with results, go back and tweak those filters then.
As you can see, I only came back with two results, but it’s a solid direction to start in.
The key difference between Text Tools and this portion of the Google Keyword Planner Tool is that Text Tools goes beyond the search string to provide keywords that are related to the term you enter. They show up often in pages containing your target term, and ultimately, this data can help you pass up the competition in the SERP results.
The main thing to note here is that this feature is a lot like the ‘People who bought this also shopped for…’ feature on Amazon. It gives you an idea of related search history, and a direction to take your content in, but it’s applications are pretty limited.
Get Search Volume Data and Trends
Ah, here we go. This is where the real meat and potatoes of the Keyword Planner are at. Using this section, you can get piles of data on your target keywords, and make determinations on any adjustments you might need to make if the numbers aren’t quite right.
Essentially what this tool helps you to do is to find focus keywords that are effective for your content, but also not so competitive that you’re drowning in the SERP results and being crippled by the cost of the keywords in PPC adverts.
To use this tool, it’s pretty simple: start looking at your content, and get together some ideas for focus keywords. You can use the option listed above to analyze the URL of an existing keyword, or you can try to lean in a fresh direction by looking up new targets.
When you get to your results, Google will provide you with the average monthly searches for those terms, the suggested bid for the term (which you can use when working your PPC campaign budget), and the competition level for the term. Use this information to determine if a keyword is worth the expense and the risk (high $ value, high competition), or if there are low competition terms you feel you can capitalize on more effectively.
From here, you can click on the tab at the top of your results labeled ‘Ad group ideas’ to explore recommended keywords for your ad set.
If you like the looks of any of this data and want to dig into it more later or share it, you can download a spreadsheet with the data, or even add it directly to your Google Drive for quick and easy access later between team members.
Multiply Keyword Lists to Get New Keywords
This is where it gets really fun. Data junkies, get ready, because this section is really going to give you your fix. Here you can multiply lists of keywords to get in-depth search figures, but you can also create a forecast for an ad campaign.
The information here is great for determining the costs to run a campaign, and optimizing that campaign for the most success. Before you choose your keywords and run to create your ad, jump in here and play around with some numbers to see where your money will best be spent.
What the Data Means
The Keyword Planner ool takes the guesswork out of optimizing your content, giving you hard figures to base the SEO work on your site on. While it’s not something that should dictate the direction of your content, it can give you a focus keyword to hang your efforts on as you optimize.
Even if you don’t plan to run a new PPC campaign, using the average monthly search volume data coupled with the competition for the keyword can show you which keywords should be popping up in your H1 text and meta descriptions.
From there, you can continue to build the SEO power of your site with semantic keyword analysis, plugging these focus keywords into the Text Tools software for a closer look at the content your competitors are putting out, and other keywords you can target.
Once you get your analysis data back from Text Tools, take it back into the Keyword Planner Tool for some search volume data, and let the process come full circle.
- Keyword research in the Google Keyword Planner Tool
- Content optimization with your new focus keywords
- Semantic keyword analysis of your current focus keywords in the Text Tools software
- Search volume research with your new keywords in Google Keywords Planner Tool
- New content creation based on the best performing keywords from your semantic keyword analysis
In short, Text Tools and the Google Keyword Planner Tool is a match made in heaven. Use one to complement the other, and your rankings will soar as you sharpen the edge on your SEO and kick the competition’s non-optimizing ass.