How to use Google Keyword Planner for PPC

No matter what you’re advertising or what keyword research strategy you’re going to use, most of your time searching for new PPC keywords will be spent in Google Keyword Planner.

Google Keyword Planner gives you everything you need to make informed decisions, such as search volumes, average cost per click, and level of competition, so that you’re able to make accurate projections.

In this guide I’m going to show you how to get the most out of Google’s Keyword Planner.

Here’s how to use the tool.

Where to find Google Keyword Planner

Google Keyword Planner is accessible through your AdWords account.

Once you have logged into your AdWords account, click “Tools” in the top menu bar, and then select “Keyword Planner” from the drop-down menu as shown below.

You will then be presented with the 5 different tools that Google Keyword Planner offers.

Three are geared towards finding new keyword opportunities:

  • Search for new keywords use a phrase, website, or category
  • Get search volume data and trends
  • Multiply keyword lists to get new keywords

Two are geared towards planning your budgets and getting forecasts:

  • Enter or upload a list of keywords to get forecasts
  • Get forecasts for campaigns or keywords from your account

Now it’s time to drill down further into the 5 different tools, and see how you can use each one of them to find new keyword opportunities and make accurate projections.

Search for new keywords using a phrase, website, or category

This is the go-to tool for finding new keyword opportunities using the Google Keyword Planner.

It allows you to enter a ‘seed’ keyword, and then it will find several different variations of the keyword for you to use.

There are three different ways that you can search for new keyword opportunities: 

  1. Your product or service. This is where you enter seed keywords that are closely related to what you advertise. For example, if you ran a website selling phone cases, you would want to add specific terms relating to products such as “iPhone 4 cases” as opposed to generic terms like “phone cases”.
  2. Your landing page. This allows you to generate keyword suggestions based on the landing page that users will visit. This can sometimes yield some gems, however it’s generally not as effective as entering seed keywords.
  3. Your product category. This allows you to find keywords by searching Google’s internal databases of keywords relating to specific topics. This is a good option to explore if you have already exhausted the first two options.

Once you’ve settled on a search method, you need to choose your targeting options.

A. Targeting Options 

The Targeting Options are country, language, and search engine (search engine with search partners).

This is very intuitive; for example if you’re targeting ads at the UK, you would select the location “United Kingdom” and then select the language “English”.

There’s also the option to add ‘negative keywords’. These are the keywords for which you don’t want your ads to appear.

B. Search Options 

Search Options allows you to refine your results and find the most appropriate keywords faster.

There are three tools which you can use: 

i. Keyword Filters

ii. Keyword Options

iii. Keywords To Include

I will now walk you through all of these options individually.

i. Keyword Filters

The Keyword Filters tool allows you to filter your keywords to find those that, for example, have more than 10 searches per month, or only have low competition.

As a PPC advertiser, you’ll want to stick to using the three different options down the left-hand side, and the completion metrics at the bottom.

This is useful if, for example, you want to find the keywords which have a high commercial intent (i.e. if lots of people are bidding on this keyword, it’s highly likely to be profitable).

ii. Keyword Options 

Keyword Options is one of my favourite tools, as it allows you to find lots of very closely-matched variations of keywords, which saves you a huge amount of time trawling through different keyword ideas.

It also allows you to show keywords which are already in your account or plan, and if you sell adult-related products or services, it allows you to view adult ideas.

iii. Keywords To Include 

This is another great tool for finding closely-matched keyword variations. For example if I add the keyword term “ppc management”, it will only show me keyword results that contain the term “ppc management”.

Get Search Volume data and trends

If you already have a list of keywords and you want to see how many searches they get in a certain geographic area, then this tool will be useful for you. (However note that this is not useful for finding new keyword ideas.)

STEP 1. Simply paste a list of keywords into the tool, or upload a CSV file containing the keywords.

STEP 2. Select the geographic area and language that you want to get search volumes data for.

STEP 3. Finally, click the ‘Get search volume’ button, and you will be shown the projections.

Multiply keyword lists to get new keywords

The ‘Keyword Multiplier’ tool allows you to add several lists of keywords and multiply them together, creating hundreds (or even thousands) of keyword combinations.

This tool works particularly well for e-commerce websites, because it lets you multiply different brands, colours, and sizes of products together, allowing you to identify pretty much every possible combination that users could search for.

STEP 1. Add a list of keywords to ‘List 1’ and then a second list to ‘List 2’ that will be multiplied together.

STEP 2. If you want to multiply more than two sets of keywords together,  click the large X on the right-hand side of the page, and add a list of keywords to ‘List 3’.

STEP 3. Once you’ve done this, click the ‘Get search volume’ button at the bottom of the page as shown below.

Enter or upload a list of keywords to get forecasts

The Forecast tool is useful for giving you projections on how your keywords will perform. The tool looks like this:

You have the option of either uploading a CSV file with your keywords or directly pasting them into the box at the top.

This tool gives you the ability to specify which match type you’d like your keywords to be in.

You have the choice of:

  • Broad Match: New York Hotels
  • Phrase Match: “New York Hotels”
  • Exact Match: [New York Hotels]

As with the other tools that Google Keyword Planner offers, you are able to target by location, language, and search engine platform. You also have the option of being able to add negative keywords.

When it comes to the date range for your projections, Google Keyword Planner allow you to get forecasts based on the next 7 days (or if you prefer, you can get them based on a custom time-frame).

Get forecasts for campaigns or keywords from your account

This option allows you to get forecasts based on your current campaigns. To use this feature you must already have a campaign running on Google Adwords.

Simply select a campaign (or several) for which you want to get forecasts, and then click ‘Get forecasts’.

Using the keyword results page

Once you have clicked the ‘get ideas’ button, you will then be shown the keyword results page, providing several keyword ideas.

Here’s a breakdown of the different elements of the page.

The first thing you’ll see is ‘Search volume trends’, showing you how search volume has varied month-to-month.

Down the right-hand side of the page, you have a sidebar that allows you to edit your search results without having to navigate back to the first page.

Below the ‘Search volume trends’ graph there are two tabs; ‘Ad group ideas’ and ‘Keyword ideas’. Both of these allow you to find a good number of keyword opportunities.

When you click on the ‘Keyword ideas’ tab, you’ll be shown an interface that looks like the one below.

There are 4 main different columns that you need to know about:

‘Keyword (by relevance)’ column. This contains your keyword suggestions that Google deems to be relevant to the seed keywords that you entered.

‘Avg. monthly searches’ column. This is the average number of monthly searchers for the keyword.

‘Competition’ column. This indicates how many other advertisers are bidding on this term. ‘High’ competition means that several others are bidding on it, whilst ‘Low’ competition means that very few advertisers are bidding on it.

‘Suggested bid’ column. This column gives you a suggested bid based on what other advertisers are paying to appear for that keyword.

When you click on the ‘Ad group ideas’ tab, you’ll see an interface that looks like the one below.

Google provides pre-made ad groups of similar keywords that allows you to quickly find relevant keywords.

You can view which keywords are in each ad group by clicking on them.

Once again, you have the same columns as in the ‘Keyword ideas’ tab to help you evaluate the keyword.

How to get Exact Data Projections

One limitation of the Google Keyword Planners results page is that they only provide you with a rough average search volume, which is only partially helpful.

There is, however, an option that allows you to get more accurate search volume projections.

To access this tool, you first need to add the keywords that you want to target to your plan. This can be done by clicking the two arrows on the right-hand side of the row.

Once you’ve done this, click the ‘Review plan’ button found in the right-hand side menu.

Once you’ve done this, the next page prompts you to provide a bid and a daily budget.

At this point, enter your accurate daily budget alongside a rough bid (you’ll see why in the next step).

Google will then give you much more accurate projections on what you can expect in terms of number of impressions, clicks, and conversions.

If you look at the number of impressions, you’ll see how many people search for the term each day.

You can move the bar in the middle of the graph backwards or forwards to set different bids, which will give you projections of how many impressions and clicks you will get with that particular bid.

For example, if I move the bar along to the left so that the max CPC bid is set to £10.05, I can see that I would generate 4.03 clicks and 227 impressions per day, at a cost of £18.78 (see below).

When using this tool, be careful when looking at conversion volume, because this can vary quite widely depending on your landing page.

If you have a high-quality landing page that converts at around 10%, then the estimates should be reasonably accurate; however, if you’re routing the traffic to a website with a conversion rate of 2-3%, the estimates will likely be a long way off.

Alternative forecasts

Take your keyword research and apply them to my make Google Ad projections sheet. I’ve found it a very reliable tool over the years, often more reliable than the Google forecasts themselves.