How To Use Google Adwords Keyword Tool for SEO and Google Ads

Christy Walters


November 4, 2021 (Updated: May 4, 2023)

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The Google Ads program is most popular for those who want to pay for advertising within the search engine. Its additional tools and functions, like the Adwords Keyword Tool or Planner, can help you with a variety of marketing goals and campaigns, both inside and outside of Google Ads. Learning how to generate and interpret the provided data can make it easier to take the information from the program and apply it to other areas of your business.

What Is Google Ads?

Google Ads is an online advertising program for businesses to promote products and services within Google Search, YouTube, and other sites in the Google family and across the internet. Before 2018, the program operated under the names Google AdWords and Google AdWords Express. The change came as part of the company’s rebranding efforts but didn’t change the features or functionality of the program.

Google Ads allows advertisers to set goals for each of their campaigns and customize budgets and targets while having the freedom to start and stop ad viewership at any time. This program may help with your content promotion strategy.

What Is the Google Adwords Keyword Tool?

Google Keyword Tool, or Keyword Planner, helps advertisers research keywords for their Search campaigns. Search campaigns are one type of marketing available in Google Ads. They allow marketers to place ads across the Google Search Network to show ads to people actively searching for similar products and services. The tool lets marketers discover new keywords that relate to their industry or company. It also shows the estimated number of searches the keywords may appear in and the cost to target those words or phrases. Google Keyword Planner provides an alternative way to create Search campaigns.

Are Google Ads and Keyword Planner Free?

Like most other Google services, both Google Ads and Keyword Planner are free to use with a Google Account. To register, you need an email address and website for your business. You also need to create a Google account or use an existing one to log into the services. You must have a Google Ads account to use Keyword Planner.

Benefits of Using Google Ads and Keyword Planner

You can use both Google Ads and Keyword Planner for multiple purposes. These include research, metrics, and planning. Some highlights of using the tools across your marketing efforts include:

Google Ads

Benefits of using Google Ads include:

  • Cost control: There is no minimum payment to use Google Ads and you can choose how much you spend per ad, per day, or per month. You only pay when someone clicks on an ad.
  • Management: The Google Ads system makes it easy to manage all your campaigns and activities with the My Client Center (MCC) interface. It also has a free downloadable desktop application called Google Ads Editor that lets you edit all your account and campaign details offline.
  • Measurement: You can track a variety of metrics to learn if your ads are getting the kind of traffic you expect with each campaign. You can see where to invest your money and get the best return on investment.
  • Targeting: The program lets you show your ads to people within the right niche that are interested in your products and services. You can target with a variety of features, including keywords, ad location, lead demographics, days, times, and devices.

Keyword Planner

Benefits of using Keyword Planner include:

  • Campaign creation: Use keywords from your generated lists to create new campaigns within Google Ads.
  • Cost: Keyword Planner lets you see the average price range for ad space within the search engine for a certain keyword.
  • Estimated monthly searches: The program gives you an educated guess about how many searches a keyword may receive per month.
  • Keyword discovery: The program provides suggestions for new keywords related to your products, websites, and services.
  • Organization: Use this tool to learn how the keywords fit into different brand-related categories for campaign planning.

How To Register for Google Ads

There are two methods you can use to sign up for Google Ads: Smart Mode and Expert Mode. In Smart Mode, you have to create your first campaign upon registration. In Expert Mode, you can choose to set up your account with or without creating your first campaign. To use Google Keyword Planner, you must use Expert Mode. The tool is unavailable in Smart Mode. Use these steps to sign up in Expert Mode:

  1. Visit the Google Ads website.
  2. Sign in to an existing Google Account or create a new one.
  3. From the “New Campaign” page, choose “Switch to Expert Mode” at the bottom of the screen.
  4. Click “Create an account without a campaign” to skip creating your first campaign.
  5. Confirm your business information, like time zone, currency, and billing country.
  6. Click “Submit” to complete the account creation.

To switch an existing Google Ads account to Expert Mode to use Keyword Planner, follow these steps:

  1. Sign in to an existing Google Account.
  2. Click the “Tools” icon of a wrench in the top right corner.
  3. Select “Switch to Expert Mode” from the choices. If you do not have this option, your account is already in Expert Mode.

How To Use the Google Keyword Planner to Research Keywords

Google designed Keyword Planner with pay-per-click (PPC) advertisers in mind. This means that it has many features that do more than just help you research and compare keywords for your campaigns and search engine optimization (SEO) practices. Use these steps to learn how to use Keyword Planner to find keywords for more than just your PPC campaigns:

1. Access the Google Keyword Planner

Log into your Google account and click the wrench icon in the top toolbar. From the drop-down menu, choose “Keyword Planner.” There are two tools within the planner called “Discover new keywords” and “Get search volume and forecasts.” You can use either to generate ideas.

2. Choose Your Tool

Both tools in Keyword Planner can help you create a list of thousands of keywords for your campaigns and content. Let’s explore both tools in more detail:

Discover New Keywords

As the name suggests, you can use this tool to find new keywords. The search bar asks you to “Enter products or services closely related to your business.” The results you get from Keyword Planner directly relate to the information you enter. It’s important to be strategic about your input so you get the most valuable output. There are two options within this tool:

  • Start with keywords: With this option, you enter words and phrases that describe your business, like “content creation,” and Google’s internal database searches for similar keywords in a variety of industries. You can enter multiple keywords at once, separating each one by a comma and pressing Enter.
  • Start with a website: While this option may be more helpful for PPC advertisers, those looking just for keywords can generate some by pasting their company URL or a specific page URL into the box. You can choose to generate keywords based on the entire site or just the page provided.

After choosing one of these options and entering the required information, click “Get Results” to retrieve your list of keywords.

Get Search Volume and Forecasts

This feature is most useful if you have a long list of keywords to source and investigate their search volume. It doesn’t generate any new keyword ideas. To use it, copy and paste your list of keywords in the box. Separate individual terms by comma or put them on different lines. You can also upload a file with your keywords. Click “Get Started” to retrieve the average monthly searches, competition, and search forecast for the terms you entered.

3. Filter and Sort the Results

No matter which tool or form you choose, they all lead you to the Keywords Result page. This is the page where you can filter the list into smaller groups for better analysis. Understanding the information available to you on this page can help you decide how and where to filter your results to get the best keywords for your content. The fields and data include:

  • Ad impression share: This field shows the number of impressions an ad for this keyword receives in relation to the total number of potential impressions for all ads. It applies only to those engaging in PPC advertising.
  • Add filter: This function lets you further filter the keyword list with a collection of options. For example, the “Keyword” option lets you find specific words within the list.
  • Average monthly searches: This feature helps you determine the search volume for each term. Clicking on the header for this column lets you sort the keywords from lowest to highest or the reverse.
  • Broaden your search: This feature shows keywords related to the terms you input. You can click the plus sign next to one to add it to your list.
  • Competition: This section tells you how many other Google Ads users are competing for viewership with the same keywords.
  • Date range: This feature shows the review period for keyword data.
  • Keyword (by relevance): This is the list of keywords Google Ads chose as most relevant to the input information or website URL.
  • Language: This section shows the language or languages of the keywords on your results page.
  • Locations: This section shows the country or countries where you intend to market your content.
  • Organic average position: This section shows your average ranking for each keyword in Google organic search. You must connect your Google Search Console account to Google Ads to get this information.
  • Organic impression share: This feature shows how often your site appears in organic search results for each keyword. You must connect your Google Search Console account to Google Ads to get this information.
  • Refine keywords: This filter allows you to further refine the keyword results by removing mentions of specific brands, platforms, services, or other items that may be too specific to meet your advertising and marketing needs. This new feature is in beta testing.
  • Search networks: In this section, you can choose where you intend to target your content, either just in Google Search or with both Google Search and partners like YouTube.
  • Top of page bid: These columns tell how much money you can expect to pay for your ad to appear at the top of the search engine results page (SERP) for a specific keyword, with a range from low to high.

4. Choose a Keyword

Now that you have a comprehensive list with a lot of information, you can choose which keywords to use to optimize your content, ad campaigns, and other marketing projects. If you’re using the tool simply to generate content topics for SEO, consider focusing on information from the search volume, competition, and organic impressions and positioning when analyzing data.

High search volume means more people look for that information online, and there’s a good chance they can find you through keyword targeting. Medium search volume may also be helpful because people are searching for those terms, but there might be lower competition to help your content stand out. Organic information can tell you how well you might target these areas without paying for additional space.

3 Tips and Hacks For Using Google Keyword Planner

Use these tips to help you make the most out of your experience with Google Ads and Keyword Planner:

1. Mind Seasonal Keywords

When you’re looking at the average monthly search data, keep in mind that seasonal keywords may skew at different times of the year. For example, there may be a high search volume for the keyword “Halloween infographic” in October, but a low one in June. It’s important to watch this because it can affect the average result. If you’re looking for seasonal keywords, consider adjusting the date range to get a better idea of how it performs at different times of the year rather than through all 12 months.

2. Get Exact Keyword Search Volume Data

In the default version of the keyword spreadsheet, you can only see a range for the average monthly search volume. While this gives you an idea of which keywords are most popular, with ranges like 10-100 and 100-1K, you might want a more specific number to help choose your list. To get a more accurate number, use these steps:

  1. Click the check box next to the keyword for which you want the exact search volume number.
  2. Choose “Add keyword” or “Add keyword to create plan” from the blue bar that appears at the top of the form.
  3. Choose “Saved keywords” from the left menu panel.
  4. Click the blue “Create Campaign” button.
  5. Name your campaign and choose a daily budget, or leave the default amount.
  6. Click “Save.”

The forecasting panel on the next page tells you the exact number of impressions per month instead of a range.

3. Analyze Competitor Websites

Using the “Start with a website” option under Discover New Keywords and searching for a competitor’s site may give you a brand new set of keywords that you never thought to include in your campaigns. This can help you get around some of Keyword Planner’s flaws, which include providing only the most closely related suggestions to what you enter or the same keyword pool as all other similar users. Because you can use any URL for this function, you have a variety of sources to choose from to pull new keywords, including:

  • Bios and “About” pages
  • Blog posts
  • Conference agendas
  • News stories
  • Podcast or video transcripts
  • Press releases
  • Wikipedia pages

Keyword Planner through Google Ads gives you another option for free keyword generation and planning. This can help your content marketing and allow you to reach more customers and create more conversions with less strain on your budget.

Author Image - Christy Walters
Christy Walters

CopyPress writer

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