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The first step in getting the results you desire from your search engine optimization (SEO) campaigns is choosing the best keywords for your business, and that means you need to do keyword research to make sure you know the exact words and phrases your audience uses when searching for information that your company has a solution for. Luckily, Google has a free tool that can help you find the information you need for your keyword research to be successful.

Knowing how to access and use the Google Keyword Planner can help your company conduct keyword research like a marketing pro to choose the keywords that can help you be successful in reaching your target audience. Read on to learn about the features of the Google Keyword Planner and how to use it to maximize your SEO campaign strategies.

What Is Google Keyword Planner?

The Google Keyword Planner is a free tool that allows you to find the best keywords for your industry and business and research how well your keyword list may perform. It can also help you create your Google Ads budget by giving you the data you need to choose competitive bids for each of your campaigns. Knowing which keywords will perform best for your business is important because search engines are the core of every content marketing strategy.

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Image via Google Ads Keyword Planner

How to Use the Google Keyword Planner

The following steps provide detailed instructions on how to use the Google Keyword Planner tool to help you build a strong foundation for each of your marketing campaigns:

1. Sign In to Your Google Ads Account

You must sign in to a Google Ads account to access and use the Google Keyword Planner. Begin on the Google Ads Keyword Planner page. Once there, click on the blue button that says “Go to Keyword Planner.” This button has a link that will direct you to one of three pages:

Verify Your Account Page

The “Go to Keyword Planner” link directs you to this page if you already have a Google Ads account and you are signed into the primary Google account associated with your Google Ads account. This page asks you to enter your password to verify your account. Use the same password you use to sign in to your primary Google account.

Create a New Account Page

The “Go to Keyword Planner” link directs you to this page if Google thinks you don’t have an existing Google Ads account. If you don’t have one, choose the option that says “New Google Ads Account” to create one. But the link also directs you to this page when you have a Google Ads account and need to sign into the primary Google account associated with it. If this happens, select the option that says “Switch Google Account” and sign into the primary Google account associated with your Google Ads account.

Google Ads Campaign Page

Sometimes, the “Go to Keyword Planner” link directs you to a page that makes it look like you need to create a Google Ads campaign to access the Google Keyword Planner. This page asks “What’s your main advertising goal?” and gives you three options to choose from. Instead of choosing one of the three options, bypass this page by clicking the small blue link underneath the options that says “Experienced with Google Ads?” On the next page, choose the small blue link that switches you to “Expert Mode,” verify your business information, and hit  “Submit.”

2. Locate the Keyword Planner Tool

After successfully signing in to your Google Ads account, find the “Tools and Settings” menu tab in the gray menu bar near the upper right-hand corner of the page and click to open the drop-down menu. Then, find the planning section on the left side of the drop-down menu and click on “Keyword Planner.” This opens the Google Ads Keyword Planner home page. Google divides this page into three separate sections:

  • Discover new keywords section: Clicking on this section will take you to the area of the tool that helps you find new keywords. This section helps you find new keywords to add to your campaigns that can help you reach the people who are most interested in the products, services, and solutions your company has to offer.
  • Get search volume and forecasts section: Clicking on this section will take you to the area of the tool that shows historical keyword metrics and future forecasts for specific keywords. Use this section if you want to determine how well you can expect specific keywords to perform and to help you set competitive bids and plan your campaign budgets.
  • Your plans section: This section shows the keyword plans you have searched in the past. If this is your first time using the Google Keyword Planner, this section will be empty. Use this section if you want to access the keyword plan results from your prior keyword planning searches.

3. Find Keywords With Google Keyword Planner

Clicking on the box that says “discover new keywords” opens the area of the tool that allows you to search for new keywords. The results you get from this section of the tool gives you a list of suggested keyword ideas and the average number of monthly searches, competition, and the high and low range for the top of page bid for each keyword suggestion. The keyword planner tool gives you two options to begin your search with:

Start With Keywords

The “start with keywords” option allows you to enter up to ten words or phrases related to your business for Google to use to make keyword suggestions. Google suggests using words or phrases closely related to the products or services your business offers without being too specific or too general. There is also a space to enter a domain below your keyword list to use as a filter. Google suggests entering your own domain so they can use it to filter out the products, services, or brands your business doesn’t offer.

Start With a Website

The “start with a website” option allows you to enter any active domain or page URL for Google to use to make keyword suggestions. Google does not require you to own the domain or page URL that you use in this search box. You can tell the tool to use the entire site or to use only the page associated with the URL, but you can only enter one URL into the search box at a time.

4. Use the Google Keyword Planner to Complete Competitor Research

Use the “start with a website” section to complete your competitor research and spy on the keyword strategies working best for each of your competitors. Start by copying and pasting a URL from one of your competitor’s websites into the search field and select the option to “use the entire site.” Then, hit “get results” and the resulting list provides keyword suggestions based on the keywords that are working best for your competitor’s entire site.

This strategy also works for finding keyword suggestions for a specific page or blog article topic. Just copy and paste the URL for a similar page or blog article you want to recreate and select the “use only this page” option instead. Now your results list will show keyword suggestions based only on the content found on the exact URL used in the search.

Because you can only use one URL at a time, you will need to do a separate search for each different competitor website or for each specific blog article you want to compete with. Create a list of the keywords working best from each search result and then look for trends between all of the results. You can then use these results to decide which keywords you want to target to directly compete with them.

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5. Use the Filter to Narrow the Focus of Your Results

The Google Keyword Planner results filter can help you remove keyword suggestions that are not relevant to your business and find only the ones that directly relate to your industry, products, and services. Begin by clicking the button at the top of the results list that says “add filter” and then click on the “keyword text” option from the drop-down menu. The next drop-down menu gives you two options to choose from:

“Contains” Filter Option

The “keyword text contains” filter removes keyword suggestions that do not contain specific words you want your keywords to include. You can use this feature to narrow your keyword suggestions to keywords that describe a specific product or service your company offers or to find the questions your target audience is asking. After selecting the “contains” option in the drop-down menu, type in the specific word you want your keyword suggestions to include.

For example, a company that sells pet supplies may use the words “dog” or “pet” as its primary search words. But to narrow its results to keyword suggestions specifically related to dog treat products, they can add a new “keyword text contains” filter for the words “treat,” “snacks,” and “rewards.” Doing this will ensure every result includes the word “treats,” “snacks,” or “rewards.”

To find the questions your audience is asking when searching for answers or solutions that your company’s products or services provide, add a new “keyword text contains” filter for the words “who,” “what,” “when,” “where,” “why,” and “how.” When doing this, make sure you are creating a new filter for each word instead of including all words in one filter.

“Does Not Contain” Filter Option

When you use a competitor’s URL to search for keyword suggestions, the results usually include some words or phrases relevant to your competitor that are not relevant to your company. The “keyword text does not contain” filter allows you to remove the keyword suggestions that include words or phrases not relevant to your company’s products or services and to exclude keywords that include the name of your competitor. After selecting the “does not contain” option in the drop-down menu, type in the specific word or phrases you do not want any of your keyword suggestion results to include.

For example, your competitor may offer organic dog treats but none of your company’s dog treats are organic. In this case, you would add a “keyword text does not contain” filter for the word “organic.”

To remove keyword suggestions with your competitor’s name, you would add a “keyword text does not contain” filter for the name of your competitor. But, you could also still use those suggestions to find valuable keywords that you could use by replacing your competitor’s name with your company’s name.

6. Research Search Volumes and Keyword Forecasts

You can also use Google Keyword Planner to look at historical statistics and traffic forecasts for specific keywords. Clicking on the “get search volume and forecasts” section from the Google Ads Keyword Planner home page takes you to the section of the tool that provides historical data and forecasts for how specific keywords perform.

This section of the tool does not provide keyword suggestions, so you will need to have a keyword list of your own to use for the search. While the “discover new keywords” section of the tool shows a broad range of the average number of monthly searches for each keyword suggestion, this section provides more targeted data for the number of clicks, impressions, and cost you can expect with each keyword:

  • Impressions show the maximum number of people you can expect your ad to appear for as a search result option.
  • Clicks show the number of people you can expect to click through to your website or landing page from those impressions.
  • Cost shows the average overall budget you can expect to spend on each ad to achieve the shown number of impressions and clicks.

Now that you know how to use Google Keyword Planner to find the best keywords for your business, contact CopyPress to learn how our content writing services can help you achieve the goals you have for the keywords you have chosen.

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