When you’re into digital marketing as much as we are it can be a little tough to get help and support with finding the most useful ongoing trends and popular keywords to target. A lot of the time we rely on word of mouth, current trends, and taking a look at what the market is doing – i.e. using our best judgement to figure out how to make useful or popular content. It all comes down to our experiences and the ways we can figure out how to get ahead of the curve, and it’s useful up to a point.

However, the human brain isn’t like Google – which serves users up to 5.6 billion queries per day. Regular people don’t have this constant never ending stream of information at our disposal, as well as the memory and processing power of the site. For us our decisions are usually partially instinctive and often need to be countered with some concrete, machine-generated statistics. This is why we also advocate the use of the Google Keyword Planner, a feature of Google Ads. It’s extremely simple to get access to, costs no money, and can offer a pretty hefty portion of insight in very little time.

What is the Google Keyword Planner?

The keyword planner is one of the more useful ends of Google Ads, but also a really great intro to the kind of tools you use to help improve your SEO and keyword marketing skills. It’s not even the most sophisticated example of a keyword planner out there, but the thing that makes it a good recommendation in our opinion is that it’s free and easy to access.

Features of the planner that stand out include its ability to help users find new keywords and related keywords, as well as gauging how their potential ‘ad campaign’ (in our case it’s usually a single keyword or string of keywords) will fare in ongoing forecasts. The great thing about the Google Keyword Planner is the way it can, potentially, offer some insight into the future search volumes for keywords you want to target. This means that whether you’re writing a blog article, making web content, or simply looking at what keywords to target next, the planner has your interests covered.

Users can easily create a Google Ads account on the registration page – after registering, the keyword planner should be available.

Getting Started

A few simple steps can get you straight onto the Keyword Planner – let’s review them quickly.

  1. Go to ads.google.com/home and sign in using an existing Gmail account or by creating a new one. You may need to input additional info but usually this is an easy step.
  2. Once you get in, you should see a small suite of icons in the top right corner – hit the spanner or wrench icon that looks like the one on the right.
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  3. This should reveal a drop down menu with a lot of options, you’re going to want to hit the ‘planning’ option which will reveal the keyword planner shortcut.

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4. Now you have the planner open you should be given the option to select one of the two functions below. Let’s go  into these in more detail.

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Find New Keywords 

Now you have sorted out how to access the planner, let’s review the two main features that give you more insight into keywords and forecasts. The first feature is the keyword explorer, which allows you to input keywords and offers insights into similar or topical keywords that match the ones you have already put in.

Through this screen you choose the keywords you want, and press ‘get results’. The best way to do this is to include a small yet very relevant range of keywords which will generate a modest, but useful range of results. For our quick example here, we’ll include the phrases ‘seo’ and ‘marketing’ in the box…

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After you hit the button you will then receive a useful output of a lot of relevant keywords on the next page, keywords which would also have an impact on a potential Google Ads campaign in the future. These should also be useful to target together in an article or blog post elsewhere.

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Note the price ranges to the right – this is how much it would cost to ‘bid’ using google ads to reach the top of the page. You can find out more about how Google Ads works in an article we wrote previously about marketing for accountants.

Reviewing Keyword Search Volumes

The second tool we can use gives a similar set of results, but there’s also one very useful output that makes it worth taking a look at. Return to the screen with the two main options on it and hit the Get Search Volume And Forecasts button, and you should be presented with another keyword input box. Here we’ve included the same keywords again, but don’t be afraid to use more relevant or useful ones when you test it out for yourself.

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The output for this tool changes the results page slightly, showing the cost per clicks and how many clicks Google thinks you will get for those keywords for a certain price. Again, this is bound up in Google Ads, but what is interesting about the forecasts page is what you can learn from it – namely how popular a keyword is going to be moving forward. Hit the ‘plan overview’ tab on the left and it should bring up this very useful window.

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This is arguably what we came here to see – it’s a detailed graph of how these keywords will (potentially) perform over the next year. It’s not a fully accurate way to predict the future, but since it’s a Google generated one it’s maybe the second, or third best thing. These results can help you with just about any SEO or keyword based project, and generating them is free, so the planner can be used for much much more than just generating ads.

What To Do Next

Now you’ve learned the basics of accessing and using the keyword planner, here are some additional ideas, steps, and tips you can put into action right away.

  • Experiment with the Google Keyword Planner and familiarise yourself with the many features, output modes, and ways of sorting the data it can generate.
  • Input the relevant keywords from your next blog post or marketing idea and see what the stats say about the data you’ve inputted.
  • Find more relevant keywords and build a better keyword plan for your next project.
  • Read up more on Google Ads, CPC and SEM, and how they work, to better understand what the planner is talking about.

As always if you get stuck you can refer to our companion book for this blog series, Digital Marketing For Professionals by Nick Bagga, and also you can contact us through the link above for any queries or enquiries about what we do.