A Guide to Using Google Keyword Planner

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Keyword research is an important part of the bidding process and is also helpful when you’re planning for the type of content you want to create. Luckily, Google has a keyword tool called Google Keyword Planner which gives you valuable knowledge about what people are searching for.

Google Keyword Planner, at its core, is a keyword research tool that provides keyword ideas and traffic estimates to help you build a Search Network campaign. But, the power of Keyword Planner goes far beyond that. The tool can be a valuable resource when researching content ideas and determining which keywords your content should rank for.

How to Access Google Keyword Planner

To access Google Keyword Planner, it requires a Google Ads account. If you don’t already have an account, you can set one up in a few minutes by entering some information about you and your business. You may be asked to create a Google Ads campaign but you don’t have to run one, you can just set one up and you’ll be ready to start using Keyword Planner.

Once you have your account set up, you can sign in to Google Ads. At the upper right corner click the “Tools & Settings” icon. Then under “Planning” select “Keyword Planner”.

Keyword Planner setup: First click "Tools & Settings” icon then under “Planning” select “Keyword Planner”.

Next, you will see two different tools under Keyword Planner: “Discover new keywords” and “Get search volume and forecasts”.

Keyword Planner: Two options show are "Discover new keywords" and "Get search volume and forecasts".

If you want to research to find keywords, you would choose “Discover new keywords” but if you have a keyword in mind and want to explore the metrics for it, you can choose “Get search volume and forecasts”.

How to Use Google Keyword Planner

Google Keyword Planner is a tool designed mostly for PPC advertising. There are many features the tool offers that focus on optimizing your bids for search campaigns you create. But, by using the same features, the tool also provides opportunities to optimize your content by discovering keywords.

Find Keywords

To discover new keywords, you can search for keywords and ad group ideas based on terms that describe your product or service, your website, or a product category related to what you are advertising.

In this section of Keyword Planner, you can search for keywords by either adding a keyword or phrase or by entering a URL. If you’re starting with keywords, you want to enter keywords that describe your business. For example, if you’re running an ecommerce site that sells cakes, you may want to enter words like “gluten free cakes”.

A search bar to discover new keywords

Another option you have for finding keywords is by entering a URL. The URL you enter can be from your own website’s homepage or another page from your website, like from a blog post.

A search bar to enter a website URL

Pro tip: You can also look at what keywords your competitor is using by entering a URL from their website that is relevant to your business.

This will give you a good idea about the type of keywords your competition is using and what you want to rank for, either in an ad campaign or within a piece of content you want to create.

Find Search Volume and Forecasts

The “Get search volumes and forecasts” feature is helpful if you already have a list of keywords in mind. This tool won’t provide you with any keyword ideas, but it will give you important metrics like search volume data and future forecasts.

Search volume data can help you decide which keywords to use for a new or existing campaign. Forecasts, like predicted clicks and estimated conversions, can give you an idea of how your list of keywords might perform depending on a specific bid or budget. These forecasts can also help guide your decision on how much to set your budget.

This tool also allows you to get historical statistics, like the average number of times people have searched for a keyword along with the low and high range advertisers have paid for the top of page bid.

Filter and Sort Results

You can filter your results to get a better understanding of the potential success of specific keyword ideas. To start, at the top of the page, there are three options: Locations, Language, and Search networks.

“Location” is the country that you are advertising to. Depending on where your business is located or where you provide products and services, you can add multiple areas.

For “Language”, this is the language of the keywords you want to see information on. English will always be set as the default language. But, if your target audience doesn’t speak English or you’re located in a country where English is not the primary language, you would want to change it.

When selecting “Search networks”, you will have to decide if you want to advertise only on Google Search or on Google and their search partners. Search partner sites are other Google sites like Maps, Google Images, Shopping, and YouTube.

You can also filter your results by keyword text, average monthly searches, top of page bid (low range), top of page bid (high range), competition, organic impression share, ad impression share, or exclude keywords already in your account.

Average Monthly Searches

This metric helps organize keywords with high and low search volume. The keywords with high search volume are mostly more competitive than the low search keywords. You also might want to avoid the keywords with low monthly searches as they may not attract enough impressions or clicks.

Pro tip: If you want to see the exact search volume data rather than a broad range, you just need to select a keyword and add it to your plan by clicking “Add Keywords”.

Once you have added it to your plan, click on “Plan overview” on the left-side menu. You will see the keyword you have added along with important metrics like impressions, clicks, cost, and CTR.

Next, you should adjust the maximum CPC and you can do this by clicking the drop-down and adjusting it to the highest amount. You can do this by clicking on the right-hand side of the graph.

“Impressions”, in this case, represent how many people search for that keyword every month. Now you have an accurate representation of search volume data for your keyword.


When it comes to the actual keyword ideas, you can have Keyword Planner show keywords with “Low”, “Medium”, and “High” competition. It’s important to know that because Keyword Planner is designed for advertisers, the competition of keywords doesn’t mean that the keyword will be difficult to rank for. The level of competition refers to the number of advertisers bidding on each keyword.

Even though the competition level in Keyword Planner will not give you a good sense of how hard a keyword will be to rank for, it does offer insight into another metric. In most cases, the higher the competition of a keyword, the more commercial intent it has. Since many advertisers are fighting for those keywords, it’s probably a good indication that the keywords have some commercial intent attached.

Top of Page Bid

Top of Page Bid is an estimate of how much you need to spend per click for your ad to show on the top of the first page of search results when a search query exactly matches your keyword. Like the “Competition” metric, “Top of page bid” is also an indicator of commercial intent.

If we have a look at a keyword example “seo tools”, we can see about a $2 to $4 difference between keywords like “seo check” and “free keyword tool” compared to  “moz pro”, “google seo tools” and “semrush pricing”.

This is because these words are associated with brands or specific products. Someone that is searching “seo check” or “seo analysis” may be very early in the buying cycle. But, someone searching product keywords tend to show that people have started their consideration phase of choosing products. Also, if advertisers are paying higher CPC on a keyword, it most likely has higher commercial intent.

Choosing a Keyword

When choosing a keyword, you want one that is broad but also can describe a product, service or a topic for content. You want to analyze keywords based on its search volume, commercial intent and competition. If the keyword has a higher search volume and higher competition the more traffic that keyword can get you leading to more chances to convert that traffic into conversions. You also should look at the websites that are ranking on the first page for your keyword and figure out if you can outrank them.

Use Negative Keywords

Negative keywords are an important part when building a keyword list and optimizing your search campaign. Negative keywords are keywords that you want to exclude from triggering your ad. For example, if you’re creating an ad for red t-shirts you offer, you don’t want your ad to be shown when someone searches for “blue t-shirts”. Using negative keywords can reduce wasted ad spend by removing keywords that won’t help you convert customers.

To add negative keywords, click on “Add Filter” below your keyword search. The filter itself is called “Keyword text” and this is where you can add negative keywords and filter your keyword ideas list.

Once you hit “Apply”, you will be given an updated keyword ideas list excluding all keywords added to the filter. You can also do the same if you want to add a keyword that must be included in your original keyword search.

Final Thoughts

Google Keyword Planner is a valuable tool that supports building ad campaigns and creating content by providing keyword research. It provides in-depth insights and better forecasts to give you more information into how each keyword might affect your campaign and content. If you’re looking to start a new ad campaign or looking to create content, focus on finding the right keywords for your business by starting with understanding search intent, strategy and serving the right page to each query.

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