How to Use and Get the Most Out of Google Keyword Planner in 2021

Google Keyword Planner is probably the first and most well-known keyword research tool to date. Although every SEO professional has used Google Keyword Planner at some point in their career, nowadays there’s a lot of SEO experts that opt for other keyword research tools. Continue reading to figure out why it is so and how to use and get the most out of Google Keyword Planner in 2021.

In this article you’ll learn:

  1. What is Google keyword planner
  2. How much does Google keyword planner cost
  3. How to use Google keyword planner
  4. How to discover new keywords with Google keyword planner
  5. How to get search volume and forecasts
  6. How to get exact search volume from Google Keyword Planner
  7. How to estimate the traffic value of a keyword
  8. Which is the best keyword research tool
  9. How to do keyword research using Wincher

What Is Google Keyword Planner

Well, I guess the name gives away most of it. Google Keyword Planner is a research tool, but not for SEO but for Google’s own advertising network called Google Ads. Google Keyword Planner has never been and will never be an SEO tool. The sole purpose of Google Keyword Planner is to help advertisers build, optimize and decide the focus of their advertising campaigns. 

Back in the days, probably being the one and only proper tool for keyword research it quickly became a widely used tool for SEOs around the world. But as you probably know by now, Google’s mission has never been to help SEOs in their line of work. 

How Much does Google Keyword Planner Cost 

Google Keyword Planner is totally free to use for anyone. However, only users who are paying and running ad campaigns through Google Ads get the most detailed data compared to non-advertisers. Because it’s been modified to give away as little data as possible, it’s become harder and harder to get useful data from Google Keyword Planner over the years.

But there are still tricks to get fairly detailed data from Google Keyword Planner, which I’ll soon walk you through in this hands-on guide on how to use Google Keyword Planner in 2021. But first, let’s have a look at how to get started.

how to start using keyword planner

How to Use Google Keyword Planner

To get started you will need a Google account and then just head over to Google Ads. If you haven’t advertised with Google you will probably be asked to set up a new ad campaign. As I’ve mentioned before, Google doesn’t really want SEO people to use their tool for keyword research so for a non-advertiser it might be a bit tricky to find the tool.

So whilst Google is trying their best to make you set up and run a Google Ads campaign, you can just click here and you will end up in the right place to get started. The start page of Google Keyword Planner should look something like below.

Google Keyword Planner Startpage
Screenshot from Google Keyword Planner

Google’s keyword tool will show you two options, Discover new keywords and Get search volume and forecasts.

Google Keyword Planner Choose Where to Start
Screenshot from Google Keyword Planner

You can choose either to get started, they both kind of take you to the same tool, but with different views.

Discover New Keywords

Basically, the first option will help you with finding new keyword ideas based on the keywords you put in.

Google Keyword Planner Discover New Keywords
Screenshot from Google Keyword Planner

It will ask for the URL of your website, but this is optional and doesn’t really make a difference if you are just researching keywords and wish to find out search volume.

Google Keyword Planner Keyword Ideas
Screenshot from Google Keyword Planner

You will get suggestions on related keywords based on the keywords and search phrases you added in the previous step. Usually, this is where I start, but not always.

Get Search Volume and Forecasts

The second option will show you estimates on clicks, impressions, and cost, but only on the keywords that you’ve put in. This is also the view where you can find quite an accurate search volume data, which I will explain in the next part of this article.

As you can see the average monthly searches presented on the first view are not very detailed. It’s actually a very rough estimate and leaves a lot to wish for. As you can see on the screenshot below, data used to be a lot more detailed in 2018 compared to 2021. It wasn’t super accurate back then, but still a lot better.

Google Keyword Planner 2018 vs 2020

This is probably the main reason why so many SEOs choose to go with keyword research tools that are specifically designed for SEO. But what a lot of people are missing though, is that very detailed and precise data is still waiting for them, but just a few clicks away. As I’ve promised earlier, I will show you how you can get detailed keyword data out of Google Keyword Planner without spending a single cent.

How to Get Exact Search Volume from Google Keyword Planner

If you have followed the steps so far, it’s time for you to choose the keywords you are interested in. Actually, the more the merrier, you might be surprised to see which keywords are actually the best. 

Choose either Broad match, Phrase match, or Exact match. Ten years ago I would definitely have gone for the Exact match. Since Google is very good at understanding synonyms these days and bundling search terms together, I would go for Broad match in most cases. Or why not do both?

How to get Exact Search Volume from Google Keyword Planner
Screenshot from Google Keyword Planner

Then click Add keywords.

A small pop-up will show at the bottom of the screen, click View forecast or click the Keyword view in the sidebar. This will show the same view that “Get search volume and forecasts” would have taken you to, the second of the two options at the beginning remember?

Google Keyword Planner Show Forecast
Screenshot from Google Keyword Planner

Now enter the highest possible CPC (my Google Ads account is currently billed in SEK, Swedish Kronor, and SEK 999 is equal to approximately USD 110 or EUR 100). For an advertiser, this would give you an estimate of how much traffic, or clicks, you can expect to get for your money.

Google Keyword Planner set Max CPC
Screenshot from Google Keyword Planner

But for you as an SEO the number of clicks is not that interesting. First of all, because the CTR on ads and organic search is different. But also because right now we are interested in search volume. So the column of data that is much more important to us is the Impressions.

Google Keyword Planner showing Impressions and Exact Search Volume

So if we take another look at the initial view it looks like agency and marketing agency are equally good keywords in terms of search volume, whilst SEO marketing isn’t even in the same league.

After digging deeper we can now see that agency as a keyword is actually not even close to a marketing agency, and SEO marketing is actually a better keyword than an agency.

Estimate the Traffic Value of a Keyword

Another great feature in Google’s keyword research tool is the estimated CPC (Cost per Click). Whilst this is supposed to reflect the cost of a click on a Google ad, it will also give you a good idea of the value of a visitor and the overall traffic from that keyword.

Just take the estimated number of impressions and multiple it with the CPC. This metric will in no way reflect how much money you would potentially earn ranking number one, but it’s a quite good metric when comparing keywords to each other.

traffic equals to impressions multiplied by cpc

Does knowing these little tricks make Google Keyword Planner the best keyword research tool out there? Well, personally I wouldn’t say so. It’s still a great tool for search volume and to some extent keyword discovery, but designated keyword research tools still have a lot to offer. 

So, Which Is the Best Keyword Research Tool? 

There are a lot of great keyword tools out there. Most of them offer a freemium version with limited features, which is great if you want to try them out for free before actually investing money in them. 

Personally, I don’t have a single one that meets all my requirements, but I am using a few different ones depending on what kind of keyword research I’m doing or what stage of the research I am in. 

One quite unique keyword research tool, in my opinion, is Wincher. What makes it unique is that you can find keywords that you are already ranking for, import them directly from your Google Search Console, or explore unlimited possibilities by typing in any seed word or phrase. This tool is super easy to use and what is even more fascinating is that a keyword research module is fully integrated into the Wincher rank tracker. This way it’s extremely easy to monitor your keywords’ performance and get notified when any changes come up in order to react as soon as possible.

How to Do Keyword Research Using Wincher

To research keywords using Wincher, just go to one of your domains and click on the Keyword Research tab. 

Screenshot from Wincher Rank Tracker

At this point you have three options to choose from (or use all of them): get suggestions, explore related keywords by seed words, or import from GSC. Suggestions will provide you with a generated list of keywords specifically for your domain to help you explore what keywords you’re already ranking for but not tracking or using them yet. Researching keywords by seed words as well as import from Google Search Console will help you find worthwhile opportunities you might be missing. 

Got overwhelmed with the number of suggestions? Filter them out to narrow your search pool. 

Screenshot from Wincher Keyword Research Tool

On the screenshot above you can see an example of what this tool looks like from the inside. Along with suggestions, you get relevant data such as the current position your website is ranking for a keyword, estimated traffic you can get based on your rankings, search volumes, competition for advertising for this keyword in Google AdWords, and CPC data. 

We have a separate article that will help you figure out how to find the best keywords for your domain using the WWincher keyword research tool. After this step-by-step guide, you’ll be able to get the most relevant keywords for your business in just a few clicks with no prior SEO experience required. New to Wincher? Grab a free 14-day trial and try it yourself or let us assist you if you need help. 

Final thoughts

Keyword research is one of the foundations of SEO. Without proper keyword research, you will be searching in the dark. Even though Google Keyword Planner has been around the longest time and can provide you with data for free, I wouldn’t settle just for Google Keyword Planner if I wanted to thrive online and get noticeable results faster. 

Which keyword research tool is your favorite? Do you still use Google Keyword Planner from time to time? Please share in the comment section below!

How to Use and Get the Most Out of Google Keyword Planner in 2021

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