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. Probably every single SEO expert, or beginner, has used Google Keyword Planner at some point in their career. Nowadays there’s a lot of SEO experts that have opted for other keyword research tools though. We will soon explain why that is and why you should give Keyword Planner another go.

First and foremost let’s talk a little about what Google Keyword Planner is. Well, I guess the name gives away most of it. Google Keyword Planner is a research tool, but not for SEO but their own advertising network 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.  

Over the years it’s been harder and harder to get useful data from Google Keyword Planner, it’s kind of like it’s been modified to give away as little data as possible. Whilst Google Keyword Planner is still free to use for anyone, users who are paying and running ad campaigns through Google Ads get more detailed data than non-advertisers.

But there are still tricks to get fairly detailed data from Google Keyword Planner, which we’ll soon go through in this hands-on guide of how to use Google Keyword Planner in 2020. But first, let’s have a look at how you get started.

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 we 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

Google’s keyword tool will show you two options, Discover new keywords and Get search volume and forecasts. You can choose either to get started, they both kind of take you the same tool, but different views. 

Google Keyword Planner Choose Where to Start

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

They 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 search volume.

Google Keyword Planner Keyword Ideas

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

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

But 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 in the picture below, there used to be a lot more detailed just two years ago. It was still not super accurate, but still a lot better. 

Google Keyword Planner 2018 vs 2020

This is probably the main reason so many SEOs choose to go with keyword research tools that are actually designed for SEO. What a lot of people have missed though, is that very detailed data is still waiting for you, just a few clicks away. As promised earlier, we will show you have to get detailed keyword data out of Google Keyword Planner without spending a single cent. 

How to get exact search volume from Google Keyword Planner

So if you have followed the steps so far, 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

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

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 spend as much money as possible on your campaign.

Google Keyword Planner set Max CPC

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 interesting for 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. 

Knowing these little tricks, is Google Keyword Planner actually 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’s 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. 

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 in what stage of the research I am in. 

One quite unique keyword research tool is our own here at Wincher. What makes it unique is that we can find keywords that you are already ranking for, as long as it is in the top 100 of Google. Just go to one of your domains and click the Keyword Research tab, and you will find keywords that you are already ranking for. 

You will also see relevant data such as search volume, traffic value and estimated amount of visitors based on your rankings.

To me, keyword research is one of the foundations of SEO. Without proper keyword research, you will reach in the dark. Even though Google Keyword Planner has been around for the longest, and still is very useful knowing the ways around it, I wouldn’t settle just Google Keyword Planner.

Which keyword research tool is your favourite? 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

What are you waiting for?

Try Wincher for free

Let’s get going