The following blog post is provided by the courtesy of Chris Sparks. Chris is an online marketing and content strategist at iSpionage, building awareness and engagement within target markets. Connect with Chris on Google+ or on Twitter.

For better or worse, Google does not always seem to live by its “don’t be evil” motto. Case in point: Google’s recent release of the new Keyword Planner tool, which replaces the old—and arguably much beloved—Keyword Tool. (And yes, we know that the name similarities between “Keyword Tool” and “Keyword Planner” make telling them apart even more confusing.) As of August 27, Google’s Keyword Tool was officially dead and replaced by its Keyword Planner.

If you regularly used the old Keyword Tool for keyword research, you may already have noticed this change. However, if your business only occasionally uses the keyword research tool, you may be unaware of the switch or curious about how the swap will impact your keyword research.

Confused about the changes? Wondering how to best integrate Keyword Planner into your current SEO and PPC strategy? We’re here to help! In this post, we’ll explain the ins and outs of the new Keyword Planner, including how to make the most of its new geographic search feature.

RIP, Google Keyword Tool

With the death of Keyword Tool, SEO and PPC managers lost a few key features. For starters, users must now log in to their Google AdWords account in order to access the Keyword Planner. In the past, users could access the Keyword Tool without being logged into their AdWords account, which made Keyword Tool ideal for general SEO keyword research.

Secondly, the Keyword Planner does not match data for search volume, device targeting, local versus global monthly searches, or have the ability to filter by “closely related” search terms. Google did announce, however, that it will be rolling out a feature similar to Keyword Tool’s “closely related” option in the coming weeks and additional features are expected in the future.

Benefits of Keyword Planner

While some features have been lost with the introduction of Keyword Planner, the new features certainly offset these losses. New features, such as the ability to bundle geographic regions together along with enhanced geographic segmentation, will prove especially useful for analyzing keyword search volume data on a city-by-city level.

Additionally, users will notice an increase in search volume data with Keyword Planner. By default, the Keyword Tool only showed average search volume for desktop and laptop computers. Now, the Keyword Planner will be showing search volume for all computers, as well as tablets and mobile phones.

Keyword Planner, unlike its generalized predecessor, is far more focused and structured. While this does mean a loss in general SEO research functionality, it also means that the new tool is the ultimate weapon for building an effective PPC campaign. Most importantly, Keyword Planner provides enhanced insight into keywords, ad groups, bidding, and budgets:

  • Keyword research made easy – Search for keywords and ad group ideas based on terms relevant to your product or service.
  • Check historical statistics/traffic estimates – Statistics such as search volume will make it easier to decide which keywords to include in a new campaign. Estimated click data also makes it easier to decide on bids and budgets.

Meet Keyword Planner

Google’s new Keyword Planner is a combination of the old Keyword Tool and the AdWords Traffic Estimator tool. The Keyword Planner is designed to make it easier for advertisers to create new ad groups and ad campaigns, which are keys to PPC success. To get started, you’ll need to be signed into your AdWords account. Next, from the Tools and Analysis menu bar, select Keyword Planner.

Select Keyword Planner

Select Keyword Planner from the drop-down menu.

After selecting Keyword Planner, you can choose from three paths:

  • Search for keyword and ad group ideas
  • Enter or upload keywords to get estimates
  • Multiply keyword lists to get estimates
Keyword Planner - Select Action

Select what action to take next.

The majority of users will select the first option: search for keyword and ad group ideas. Selecting this option will activate Google’s robust keyword planning tool. Using this interface, Keyword Planner allows you to brainstorm ideas through three key methods:

  1. Keyword: Type in a keyword or phrase relevant to your business.
  2. Landing Page: Enter a landing page on your site (or a competitor’s site) and Keyword Planner will scan the page and infer keywords that are relevant to the landing page.
  3. Product Category: Select from thousands of pre-defined keyword categories.

One of the major benefits of the new Keyword Planner is the ability to be extra picky about which keywords to include or exclude. These robust filtering capabilities are a significant improvement over Google’s old Keyword Tool. You can now filter keywords using the following:

  • Average CPC – Include/exclude keywords that fall above/below a desired cost-per-click.
  • Estimated Search Volume – Include/exclude keywords that fall above/below a desired monthly search volume.
  • Exclude Keywords Already in Your Account – Avoid duplication by automatically excluding keywords that are already part of your account.
  • Filter by Keyword – Include/exclude keywords containing specific search terms.
  • Keyword Competition – Narrow your keyword research list based on estimated advertiser competition.

How to Use Keyword Planner for Keyword Research

Do you need keyword ideas for your next ad campaign? Are the keywords you’re currently using underperforming? Keyword Planner can help you find new keywords (including less competitive, higher-converting phrases known as long-tail keywords) and estimate keyword performance. When conducting your keyword research, keep in mind that Google recommends advertisers have between 5 and 20 keywords per ad group.

  1. From the Search for Keyword and Ad Group Ideas option, enter an existing keyword or phrase to describe what you’re advertising.
  2. Click Get Ideas.
  3. Review the keywords listed under the Ad Group Ideas tab, which is visible by default or the Keyword Ideas tab.
  4. Refine your search by adding additional filters, using the URL of your landing page (or the competition’s landing page), or selecting a category relevant to your product or service.
  5. The table’s historical statistics include an estimated performance indicator.
  6. To add a word or phrase to your plan, click on the double arrows.
  7. To add additional keywords to an ad group, click the pencil icon and click the double arrows next to each word.
  8. To delete a keyword from an ad group, click on the pencil icon and click the X next to the keyword you wish to delete. To delete an entire ad group, click the X next to that group.

If you already have a list of keywords, you can manually enter these keywords or upload a CSV file. Next, use the performance indicator data to learn more about how these words should perform. If your words are significantly underperforming on clickthrough rate (CTR), this may be a sign that your overall ad language is poorly worded.

Targeting for Location and Language

Keyword Planner helps users target keywords based on geographic location and language. For example, let’s say you want to advertise your Texas dude ranch to potential customers living in Paris who speak French—you’ve seen an increased interest in French citizens visiting other dude ranches and you want to take advantage of France’s sudden willingness to trade their baguettes and brie for cowboy boots. To do so, you’ll need to edit the settings on the targeting panel.

Keyword Planner - Targeting

Edit your targeting settings.

  • Location: Enter a geographic location, such as a country, territory, state, or region. Click the nearby button to get ideas of nearby locations that you may also want to include.
  • Language: Enter a language or scroll through the box for language suggestions. In this example, you’ll want to select French and English.

Once you’ve set your location and language parameters, Google will tailor its keyword ideas and historical search data to match them.

Multiplying Keyword Lists

Keyword Planner not only is a great research tool, but it also saves time by automatically combining two or more lists of keywords. Returning to our previous example of Texas dude ranches, you may have a list of geographic terms (e.g., Texas, Austin, Dallas) and a list of words that describe your dude ranch (e.g., dude ranch, horseback riding, etc.) The multiply feature will combine keywords from both lists to create new phrases such as “Dallas Dude Ranches” or “Austin, TX horseback riding.” Then, Keyword Planner will give you new traffic estimates and historical statistics for these combined words.

Keyword Planner - Combine Keyword Lists

Multiply keyword lists for new targeted keywords.

Estimating Traffic and Saving Keywords

Keyword Planner is the ultimate tool for estimating PPC traffic—it’s the perfect way to test drive your campaign and gives you a great idea for how different keywords may perform. Once you’ve entered or uploaded keyword lists and/or multiplied lists together, you can use Keyword Planner to get estimates for these lists and save the lists to your account.

Keyword Planner - Estimate Bids

Enter your bids to see performance estimates.

  1. To get started, begin with your graph that shows a range of maximum cost-per-click (CPC) bids. By default, Google will show the number of clicks per day that all keywords may get for different bids. Click the drop-down menu to switch to different metrics, such as impression or cost.
  2. For a summary of all your estimates, hover over any point on the graph.
  3. For detailed estimates in the table, enter your max CPC bid in the box above the graph or select a bid from the graph.
  4. In order to view specific estimates for bid and budget, you will need to enter both a bid and daily budget.
  5. Next to the graph, you’ll see a Targeting panel that includes the location, language, and network settings Google uses when calculating estimates. Click the pencil icon to edit these settings; doing so will update the estimates.
  6. Once you’re satisfied with your keyword research, you can save the new keywords to your account by clicking Save to Account.
  7. To add your keywords to a new campaign, enter the campaign’s name, ad group default bid, and daily budget.
  8. To add your keywords to an existing campaign, select Add as new ad group(s) or Add to an existing ad group, then choose the campaign to which you wish to add these words.

The Bottom line

The new Google Keyword Planner makes it easier than ever to build an AdWords campaign entirely from scratch or to improve an existing campaign. However, if you’re looking for a tool to conduct general SEO keyword research, you’ll need to try other keyword research tools such as iSpionage.


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