The Google Keyword Planner

How to use Google Keyword Planner

Welcome to the 1st chapter of the ultimate guide to keyword research. If you haven’t read our previous posts make sure to check it out before reading on, or use our quick access below

In this guide we cover:

The Google Keyword Planner

How to Find Long Tail Keywords?

How to Work Out a Keyword’s Commercial Intent

How to Evaluate a Keywords Competition on Googles First Page

How to Turn Your Keywords into Great Content

Hope you enjoy!!!

Keyword research start’s with trying to guess what search query your target market will put into Google. You have to be objective and try to get in the head of the type of people you want to reach, because it’ll be like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

Luckily for us, there is some hope at the end of the tunnel and Google has given us a free tool to use to find keywords.

It’s called the Google Keyword Planner.

It sounds interesting.

That’s because it is.

Originally the tool is designed for Adwords campaigns so they will be many features in the tool that you will not have to use, like keyword bidding features.

But don’t worry, I’ll show you exactly how to get the most from the Google Keyword Planner.

Here’s how to use it.

Step #1: Get a Google Adwords account

In order to use the Google Keyword Planner you will have to have a Google Adwords account. It doesn’t take long to set up if you don’t have one.

Here’s how:

The Google Keyword Planner: keyword planner screengrab

Follow the prompts that appear, and fill in any details they require. You will need to give information about yourself and your business.

Note: You do not need an active Adwords campaign to use the GKP.

Next, login to your account.

Click on the “tools” button from the toolbar, and then click on “keyword planner”


keyword planner, tools, keyword planner

You’ll then be shown three different tools within the Google Keyword Planner (under “where would you like to start?”)

keyword planner, three differnet tools

There are only three tools that you need to use for SEO keyword research

  • Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category.
  • Get search volume data and trends.
  • Multiply keyword lists to get new keywords.

Step #2: Pick a tool

The keyword research tool has an array of different keyword research tools.

I will show you how to use all three of the tools available on the Google Keyword Planner, which will give you a great lists of keywords for your SEO campaign.

Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category

This tools is most used by SEOs, for finding new keywords.

With this tool, the keyword you generate are very similar to the keywords that you put into it. (The Google Keyword Planner doesn’t generate any new keywords ideas that you can use).

Remember this is a tool, it’s not built to think creatively, or get into the mind of your buyer.

When you are using the “search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category” tool, you’ll be presented with a menu with a list of options:

clicking on the search for new pharse, website or category tool should lead to a menue with three options

Let me explain each of the options:

Enter one or more of the following

enter one or more of the following, screengrab

This is an EXTREAMLY important option within the tool. The information you get from the planner is based on information you enter.

Here’s how to use it:

Your product or service

This is where you enter what is called your “seed keywords”. 

The aim here is to enter specific keywords, as opposed to broad keywords. This is because entering a broad keyword like “restaurants”. will result in very competitive head keywords that you’ll not be able to rank for. Instead enter 1-3 keywords more specific to your niche. For example, if you ran a health store, you’d want to enter terms like “organic supplements” and “gluten free bread” here.

Your landing page

This option is normally used by Adwords users. However, you can find good keywords here using an article on your blog, or your site’s homepage.

Your product category

This option gives you access to Google’s own database of keywords for different niches. You can find good keywords here that you might have missed out using the previous two options.

After you have entered your information into one, or all three of the options, it’s now the time to choose your “targeting” options.


Get search volume data and trends, targeting

Targeting is where you enter information about the location you’re targeting. You have to choose your country, language and the search engines that you will be targeting.

As Google is based in USA, the options are automatically set to English speaking people in the US using Google. If your’re an American reading this then you should leave options as they are.


What if you’re not based in the US?

Let’s say you’re based in France. You’d wanted to change the country to “France”, and change the language to “French”.

The last option is called “negative keywords”.

Negative keywords is something you don’t have to worry about. It only applies to Adwords users; they are keywords you don’t want to advertise on.

Customize your search

customize your search, screengrab

This is what these options mean

Keyword filters: This allows you to filter out any keywords that don’t meet a certain criteria. For example, you may not be interested in any keywords that don’t have at least 3000 monthly searches.

Click on the “keyword filters” box and put in whatever your minimum monthly search volume is?

customize your search, average monthly searches screengrab

The principle is the same with suggested bid. This is the approximate measurement of commercial intent.

Ignore the “ad impression share” as this is only for Adwords users.

Keyword options: This lets you tell the tool how broad you want the search results to be.  It is best to leave this option as is. The other options like “show keywords in my plan” are for Adwords advertisers.

Keywords to include:  You can choose specific keywords that you want to include in your search results.

It is important to include certain keywords in the results.


Imagine you have just opened your steak restaurant. In this case you’d want to make sure the keyword “steak restaurant” appears in your keyword suggestions.

If you have a list of keywords that you want to take a look at, click on the “ Keywords to include” bottom and your chosen list in here:

keywords to include, steak restaurant example

Once you have finished click on “get ideas” and you will see the Keyword Results Page. I will talk about the Keyword Result Page later on, so keep reading!

Get search volume data and trends

Get search volume data and trends screengrab

This feature is useful if you already have a keyword list and you want to find out the search volume for those keywords. This feature will not give you any new keywords ideas.

You can input your keywords by copying and pasting them, or you can make life easier for yourself and upload a CSV file:

Get search volume data and trends, upload CSV file

You can also target your country and language.

It is exactly the same to what you did with the “search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category” tool:

Get search volume data and trends, targeting

Multiply keyword lists to get new keyword idea

This is a funny tool to use.

This tool takes keywords and combines them together into thousands of different combinations. The vast majority of the results will be nonsense, but the tool will every now and again create a zinger.

The keyword multiply tool is very good for ecommerce owners. This is because it will help you create every keyword combination people use to search for your products.

Firstly, enter a list of keywords into “List 1”:

keyword multiply tool, list 1

Add another list of keywords into “List 2”:

keyword multiply tool, list 2

You can add to the madness by adding another field by clicking on the big grey “X”:

adding a thrid feild in the multiply tool

If you do decide to add another field than input your list of keywords into  “List 3”:

third list in the multiply tool with keywords

Once you’ve finished click on “get search volume”, and you’ll be able to check out what kewyords the tool created for you.

Good luck!!!

get search volume button on the multiply keyword tool

Step #3: How to use the Keyword Results Page

All the tools I described will eventually take you to the “Keyword Results Page”, which will looks something like this:

Example of Keyoword Resluts Page

Here’s a closer look at the page:

On the left on the page you have the targeting options.

It’s the same as we saw last time

Targeting and filtering options on the keywrod results pagemm.

You’ll find that it is very useful that you have the targeting and filter option on this page, as you can change your results after the search has been performed. For example, you can filter out any keywords that don’t meet your search volume criteria.

Next, you have two tabs which you can choose form: “Ad group ideas” and “keyword ideas”:

ad group idea & keyword ideas on the keyword results page

The important note here is that you should spend a good amount of time on both the “keyword ideas” and the “Ad group ideas”.

Most people only focus on the “keyword ideas”.This will cost you, and it something you should avoid. I’ll tell you why in a minute, but you can normally find great keywords to use in the “Ad word ideas” tab.

When you do click on the “keyword ideas” tab, this is what will appear:

clciking on the keyword ideas tab

This is what the terms in this section mean

Search terms: These are the exact keywords you entered in the previous step.

Keyword (by relevance):  These keywords are what Google thinks is the most relevant to your “search term” keyword.

Avg. monthly searches: This is the amount of monthly searches for any given keyword. This is an estimate number of searches, not an exact number of monthly searches.

You also have to remember that the average monthly searches will change for seasonal keywords. Bonfire night may get 60,000 searches in November, and only 800 in July. This is a problem as the average monthly searches can be a little bit misleading.

Competition: This indicates the number of advertisers making bids on that specific keyword.

Suggested bid: Basically, the higher the suggested bid is, the more profitable the traffic.

Step #4: Find amazing keywords

Now you know how to use all the tools within the Google Keyword Planner, it’s finally time to actual pick amazing keywords which you can to base your content on.

To demonstrate how to find amazing keywords, I’m going to use the “search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category” tool, because it is the best tool available in the Google Keyword Planner for finding new keywords.

search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category, highlighted

First things first, you have to come up with a keyword that is broad, but yet also describes the service, product, or content idea specifically.

If you created a list of niche topics from the introduction, this is where you’d want to use them.

For example let’s pretend that you own an ecommerce site that sells different flavoured tea bags.

If you wanted create an article on your blog about the negative impact of tea on your body, you would avoid the term “tea”, which is way too broad, or “health implications of drinking green tea”, which is too narrow.

Picking a keyword like “effects of drinking tea” would be great.

Put the keyword you have chosen in the “product or service” section:

effects of drinking tea as a product

And then click on “get ideas”

click on the get ideas button

I hope you like my drawing!!!

Before anything, take a good look at some of the Ad group names that will be listed:

click on Ad words ideas listed in the search

You can find amazing niche topics of great keyword ideas from the name of the Ad groups that appear

Now, click on one of the Ad groups:

click on one of the Ad groups

And see what keywords this Ad group is made up of:

ad group, oolong tea

That is one place to find great keywords. The other place to find great keywords is the “keyword ideas” tab.

Take notes of any keywords that may seem like they will work well with your article piece.

Click on the “keyword ideas” tab:

after you've finished on the ad word ideas click on the keyword ideas button

Then take a look at the keywords that come up:

clciking on the keyword ideas tab

What keywords will you choose?

There are so many factors you could take into consideration when trying to pick a good keyword, but base your keywords on the following three criteria:

Search volume: The higher the search volume, the better.

Commercial intent: Trying to figure out the monetization potential of any given keyword is more difficult than it may appear. As a rule of thumb, the higher the competition and suggested bid, the easier it ‘should’ be to convert traffic into well paying customers… ‘should’.

Organic SEO competition: Similar to commercial intent, trying to find out a keyword’s competition in Google’s organic search results takes more time to find out.

Step #5 (which is optional): Get exact volume search volume data

There is only one way to find the exact search volume, which is by actually having an active Adwords campaign.

Like I mentioned earlier, the Google keyword planner will only show you an estimated range:

an estimated search volume

The search volume you see is actually pretty good as keyword volume fluctuates, so the monthly searches that you see will be an estimate of the average monthly searches anyway. So all in all, it’s not that bad.

But there is a little trick you can use to get the exact monthly search volume, without needing an Adwords campaign running.

First thing you have to do is to find a keyword from the list of suggestions that the GKP spat out:

how to find the exact search volume without needing an active Adwords Campagin

Then click on the “add to plan” button:

adding grean tea for weight loss to the plan

On the right hand side you will see “review plan”, click on it:

reviewing your plan

When you are on the page, enter an insanely high bid for your chosen keyword, £300 +.

putting in a huge bid £300

You have to put a huge bid because Google will assume that your ad will appear for every single search term for your chosen keyword.

Take a look at the number of impressions you’d get.

take a look at the number of impressions

The number of impressions shown will give you the exact number of people searching for that keyword every day. Now all we have to do is multiply that number by 30 to find out the exact number of monthly searches.

So there it is, the complete guide in how to use the Google Keyword Planner. Hopefully after you’ve read this guide, you will have a huge list of great keywords.

Next, I’m going to show you how to find the best long tail keywords for your SEO campaign.

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Tahir Miah

Tahir Miah is an entrepreneur, digital marketer and SEO enthusiast. He is the founder of Serpjump, a Bedford link building agency. Tahir currently advises companies on the best way to increase revenue and brand awareness through SEO, content marketing and link building. He can be found on @serpjump

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