A Step-by-Step Guide to Google Keyword Planner

The consistency of an Adword campaign’s lifecycle is enabled by new and improved keyword ideas. Whether you’re new to PPC or have been running campaigns for years, further keyword research is always welcome.

As a beginner, you need keywords to establish a basis for your campaigns.  As a veteran, you need to constantly take your keyword research a little further for the following reasons:

  1. With an increase of negative keywords over time, your account will become less efficient overtime, leaving you with less conversions and a budget excess.
  2. There might be some great opportunities lurking e.g. like the opportunity to steal away your competitor’s conversions by discovering their hottest keywords.’

Among the many keyword research tools available, Google Keyword Planner offers the most structure when planning your Search Campaign/Adwords strategy. Once the foundation has been laid, you can grow with other features such as keyword bidding, historical statistics and traffic forecast.

It’s important to note that although Keyword Planner offers immense help with keywords, a campaign’s overall execution and success is dependent on many other significant factors like the product itself, budget, customer behavior and bid implementation.

The K Word

Before we dive right into a step-by-step explanation of the Google Keyword Planner, it’s only right to breakdown a few keyword terms and all that they embody in relation to Adwords:

Keyword: A keyword is a word or set of words that you bid on to show your ad.

Keyword Planner: A Google AdWords tool that lets you to see and access different keywords based on traffic forecasts, new keyword ideas, search volume.

Keyword Matching Options: This refers to the varying options through which you can control and limit which keywords you bid on. They include: negative keywords, phrase match, broad match, broad match modified and exact match.

Keyword Diagnosis: An AdWords feature that lets you to see whether your keywords are showing or not for your ads and why they aren’t showing, if that is the case.

Keyword Mining:  This is the process of searching for new keywords to add as negative keywords or to bid on.

Keyword Mining (Broad Match Type): This is the process of using broad match keywords as a keyword mining tool – to be bid on exclusively in the future – once they are disclosed with more qualified keyword match types.

A step-by-step guide to the Keyword Planner

The first thing you need to do is create a list of words that best describe your product, service or business. To get a head-start, describe your business/service/product in the simplest terms possible, as if explaining it to someone who has no idea what it’s about. Identify the keyword in your explanation and use them to get started on a list. They should function as appropriate search queries that users type to discover your business.

Now, you can proceed with using the Keyword Planner.

If you’re using the old AdWords interface, you’ll find the Keyword Planner right under the “Tools” tab of your AdWords account.

Google Keyword Planner

In the new AdWords interface, you can access the Keyword Planner by clicking the wrench tool at the top right hand corner. You can locate the Keyword Planner button right under the “Planning” section under the wrench tool.

Below is what the Keyword Planner previously looked like.

Tab 1 – Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category.

a)  Basic Info

The information you input into the first three boxes are the most important. You can fill out just these boxes, but the results will be too broad to add any significant value to your campaign. To get results that are as tailored to your business as possible, you should input as much information as possible.

  1. Product or Service. As mentioned earlier, a list of keywords describing your business, product or service in simple, searchable terms is needed. This is where you input that list. You can add as many keywords to this box as possible to find synonyms and related keywords Avoid long-form keywords, as you’ll get fewer results than with short ones.
  2. Landing Page.  This space is for the URL of your landing page. Google will perform a scan of your landing page will provide suggested keywords that are based on its perception of your brand/products/services.  
  3. Product Category. In this box is a dropdown feature that provides a list of categories and topics that best characterize your business.

b) Targeting. 

This is where you can customize your search to certain characteristics of your business. By specifying the language and geographic location, you prompt the search engine to make your search more specific and accurate for your business.

  1. Locations. Here, you can specify certain locations that your business would like to focus on, and it would automatically adjust the location settings in your Adwords account. You can enter a specific city for more detailed results or a different country for more generalized results.
  2. Language. In this section you can change and specify the language of your search results. Adwords then adjusts and sets the language accordingly in your account.
  3. Search Engine. This option is set to Google by default, however, there are results for Google search partners such as Amazon, AOL, Ask Jeeves, Yahoo, etc.
  4. Negative Keywords. This section allows you to negate or exclude specific words that you don’t want your ads to show up for. This feature is particularly important. For example, if you are in the business of renovating homes, you may want to exclude or negate words like ’home cleaners’ ‘clean home’ or ‘how to clean your home’. These words don’t reflect your services but might make your ads show up in the search results.

c) Customize Your Search

Here you can narrow things down even further for your business. This is where you can control some of the metrics that will affect the outcome of search results. You simply don’t need every and any keyword related to your business.

  1. Keyword Filters.This feature allows you to set specific filters that will focus your results to find keywords that have the qualities you are looking for. Entering additional information such as the suggested bid (this is where you can adjust your bid), ad impression share percent and average monthly search, will help you get results that cater to the key traits of your business. As for the ‘competition’ section, you don’t need to worry about level
  2. Keyword Options. These are extra options that you can leave on and off. They include:
    • Showing only ideas that are closely related to my search terms
    • Show keywords in my account (It is usually ideal to keep this turned off)
    • Show keywords in my plan (This means excluding keywords that are not in your plan)
    • Show adult ideas
  • Keywords to Include. This is where you can add specific keywords that you want to see as part of your keyword results. You can add as many as you like.

    d) Date Range

With this feature you can locate search results from any date range you set. This option is great because it allows you to compare previous dates or previous periods.

Tab 2 – Getting search volume data and trends.

a) Enter Keywords.

This section functions just like the“Your Product or Service “ section (i.e. 1a). Option 1 is simply a larger input box for you to expand your list if necessary. Option 2 lets you upload your list via a CSV file.

b) Targeting & Date Range. 

This section functions just like the same-named sections under the “search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category” tab.

Tab 3Multiply keyword lists to get new keywords.

a) List 1 & List 2.

This is an additional research feature that allows you to mix and match keywords to get many combinations. For example, if you’re researching for your home renovation company, you can use this feature to get more unique keyword ideas. You could input ‘décor’, ‘homes’ and ‘renovation’ in the box for list 1, and input ‘deals’, ‘services’ and ‘renewals’ in the box for list 2. The result will be a list of combinations that mix and match these words.

b) Targeting.

This section also functions just like the same-named sections under the “search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category” tab.

Tab 4 – Upload a list of keywords to get forecasts.

This feature functions just like the aforementioned researching features. You are required to enter your list of keywords, and narrow it down with the targeting option, and input a date range for comparison. What differentiates this feature is that one can see a prediction of upcoming trends in the future. If your business is characterized by seasonal variations, this can be a useful tool.

Interpreting Reports and Data

When you understand your options for extensive research, you can then proceed to learn how to interpret the results.

Bar Graph

This data shows up automatically on the results page. It displays average monthly searches using the keywords you inputted and your selected date range. If you linger your cursor on top of the bars, you can see the exact average of each month. There is a drop-down tab at the top left, that gives you more options to do your research on.

Google Keyword Planner

Mobile Trends

From the bar graph below, the average monthly searches on mobile are identified as purple, right beside the total monthly searches in your selected date range.

Breakdown by Device

To decide what devices to target, take your cue from this metric. For instance, it shows here that mobile devices are winning. So it would be a smart move to target mobile devices more.

Breakdown by Location

This metric lets you see what cities, countries and states have the biggest demand for your product and services, so that you can target accordingly in the future. Regardless of what locations you choose to target, this metric provides some direction.

Keyword Ideas

This feature is located under all the graphs in the Keyword Planner interface. It uses the keywords you have provided previously to suggest brand new keyword ideas.

As shown above, Google uses the metrics and you have chosen to find the keywords most important to your business. This feature offers you the chosen metrics, from which you can decide which keywords you want to add to your account.

 Average Monthly Searches

With regards to how often a keyword is being searched, this metric shows you just how relevant a keyword can be to your ads. It shows you the average number of monthly searches on a keyword. It would not be wise to choose keywords that have very low search volumes.


Competitors tend to bid more on keywords with high search volumes, so in terms of competition, the more popular a search term is, the higher the competition.

Suggested Bid

Google collates and analyzes previous data to suggest an ideal amount to set as your highest bid.
Ad Impression Share

This feature only shows results after your ads have popped up for a specific keyword. It shows you the recent impressions for that search term.

Add to Plan

With this feature you can save and add specific keywords and certain ads to your Adwords account, using the arrows to ‘add to your plan. You can view your additions on the right side of the results dashboard. You can also activate them in your account with the ‘Saving To Your Account.’ Button.

This part of the keyword planner does not provide keyword ideas but will provide a graph that shows you forecasts. These are metrics that still aid your keyword research immensely. To get a clue of your average CPA, you can use ‘location’ or ‘device’ to narrow down your results.

It’s a Wrap!

We hope that this guide was helpful and has helped you better understand how to extend your keyword research and add new valuable keywords to your Adwords account. Not only can Google keyword planner help you discover new opportunities supported by statistics and data but taking steps to use this tool will help you bring a stronger basis for your campaigns.

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