Google Keyword Planner: How to Use It and Which Gotchas Does It Hide

Google Keyword Planner: How to Use It and Which Gotchas Does It Hide

Keyword research and keyword search volume are two essential parameters for SEO. Keyword search volume can sometimes significantly influence the direction of the strategy and how it will be implemented. To determine these key parameters, SEO specialists use various tools, including Google Planner. We will learn how to work with this tool, as well as how effective it is for keyword research and for working with Keyword search volume analysis.

What Is Google Keyword Planner?

Google Keyword Planner, which is also known as Google Keyword Planner Tool, is a tool for selecting keywords when creating advertising campaigns in the Google Ads service. It is primarily intended for PPCs but it is also an effective free service that can be used for SEO. With Google Keyword Planner, you can do the following:

  1. Research keywords focusing on the target audience and objectives.
  2. Evaluate keyword search volume, analyze statistics for past periods, and make forecasts for keywords based on the results.

In order to access the Google planner, you need to have a Google Ads (Google AdWords) account, which will provide paid advertising campaigns in PPC format. This will allow you to get full access to all services of the tool, including monthly data on keyword search volume.

When you use Google AdWords, you will need to formally set the software up and pay the minimum cost set by the service. This can be regarded as a token payment for subsequent access to the Google planner service.

When registering a Google Ads account, the system asks for the website address and company details. To register an account according to a simplified scheme, you can use an Instagram account created specifically for this purpose instead of the site address. The system will review it and verify after the registration and payment take place without problems.

But there is another free way to install the service where you do not need to form an imaginary advertising campaign. At the same time you can easily access the service and work with the Google Keyword Planner for free. Considering that the entire arsenal of Google planner is not needed to solve SEO tasks, this option can be called the optimal use of the tool.

How to Use Google Keyword Planner?

In order to access Google Planner for free, you need a Google account. To avoid Google’s insistent suggestions to launch an advertising campaign, you need to immediately follow the link under the image and then go directly to the Google planner:

Google Ads

Next, you need to activate your Google Ads account:

After that, your account will be registered in the Google Ads system without paying:

Now, you should bypass the suggestions to start an advertising campaign and go straight to work with the Google Keyword Tool through the Tools and Settings section located on the top panel:

In the opened menu, choose Keyword Planner:

Your instrument is now ready for use. Google Adwords key planner works in two main modes: discover new keywords and get search volume and forecasts.

Since this service was originally developed for marketers and focused on working with advertising campaigns, a significant part of its tools will not be effective for SEO research.

The most relevant functionality is the selection of keywords and ideas for content, analysis of search volume, and assessment of keywords/google keyword estimator.

Google Key Planner for the Best Keywords for SEO

To work on the selection of keywords in the Discover new keywords section, two functions are provided:

  1. Start with keywords. You should enter words and phrases that describe your business, project, etc.
  2. Start with the website. This feature is intended for Google Ads users but it can also be used for SEO. This aspect will be discussed separately.

To start searching for keywords, you should enter the main keywords that will be used in the search:

Let’s use a keyword search for digital marketing as an example. GKP proposed 547 options, for each of which the following data were presented:

  1. Average monthly searches.
  2. Competition.
  3. Top of page bid (low range).
  4. Top of page bid (high range).

Page bid metrics indicate the minimum and maximum price advertisers have paid to be at the top of the page.

In order to get a more effective result spot for ideas in the Google ads words tool, you should enter different variations of words related to the niche and phrases, listing them in the input line, separated by commas.

In this case, Google planner offered 2,597 options:

In addition to entering keywords, you can specify a site in the search bar such as someone from competitors that occupy high positions in the SERP:


In this case, the number of proposed keyword options was not affected in any way. SEO experts point out that, on average, Google Keyword Planner offers several thousand search options (on average, from 2.5 to 5k). This gives much less results than what you can get using SEO services:


For example, SEMrush Keyword Magic Tools offers 119,040 keyword suggestions and phrases for digital marketing. This is nearly 46 times more than Google’s. Because Google’ keyword planner is a free service, it will be useful to learn how to make the most of its capabilities.

In addition to specifying certain keywords and/or the site, the service provides the ability to configure a number of parameters located on the top panel:

  1. Locations: By default, the settings are set to the United States but if you need information for another country, you can change it.
  2. Language: The default language is English. You can select and change the language and country
  3. Search Networks: By default, this is Google but there is also a Google and search partners option in case the client wants to advertise on other search engines or on YouTube. SEO experts recommend choosing the Google option.
  4. Last 12 months: This time period is set by default and can be changed to the last month, the last 24 months, or any available time from 2016 to 2020.

Below is the Broaden your search function. It offers suggestions for searches that you can enter into the search bar. For vegan food keywords, Google suggested additional options:

Another function of Google planner is Add Filter:

With its help, you can configure specific parameters of the search for keywords. Let’s see how it works.

  • Keywords: With its help, you can set up a search that will be targeted to a given keyword. For example, for the main key vegan food, you can set up an additional search filter with the words gluten-free:

As a result, Google picked 13 ideas for keywords out of 956 suggestions previously suggested:

  • Competition: This filter allows you to customize the search by competition parameters: low, medium, high. It is important to remember that since Google Planner is a Google AdWords advertising tool, it is about advertising competition, not about how effective a keyword will be in terms of SEO. Therefore, you should not use this filter for solving SEO problems.
  • Ad impression share is purely an advertising tool that should also be left aside.
  • Top of page bid (low/high range) is an indicator showing the cost per ad at the top of the page. For SEO, it can be used indirectly to find keywords with a particularly high sales potential. If you set up a search by the lowest cost, you can filter out the words with a low commercial query level.
  • Exclude keywords in my account/exclude keywords in my plan: These are features for AdWords users that you can use to exclude words already used in advertising before.
  • Exclude adult ideas: Eliminate ideas that include age restrictions.
  • Organic Impression Share: The function shows how often the site will be shown in organic search results for each keyword. In order to work with this tool, you need to link an account in the Google Console and Google AdWords. For more information, read What is Google Search Console?
  • Organic average position: Shows how the site will rank on average based on queries for each keyword. This feature also requires the synchronization of Google Search Console and Google AdWord.

When you already have a list of keywords, it is important to decide what keywords should I use. To do this, you should use the Get search volume and forecasts tool. The search box contains the entire list of keywords and phrases that will be used for promotion:

This tool will not offer suggestions and ideas for keywords but it can be used to define the search volume. It shows how many clicks and impressions can be obtained using the specified keywords. It also shows the cost per click and average budget when launching an advertising campaign in AdWords. This is essential data for advertisers and marketers:

If you go to the Historical metrics section, data on the average search volume for the specified keywords for the last 12 months will be presented. However, this is the same data that was shown using the discover new keywords tool, and it is not indicative.

Which Gotchas Does Google Planner Tool Have?

Google planner is a very popular tool among Internet marketers and SEO specialists. However, it still has a number of disadvantages, especially when using the free version of the service without launching an advertising campaign in Google AdWords. Let’s consider some of the specifics of this tool and learn how to avoid mistakes while working with it.

  1. Keyword Bucket. Google Keyword planner selects keywords based on traffic volume and groups them into keyword buckets. The traffic volume value that the service demonstrates for certain words may differ significantly from their real traffic volume and the number of requests per month and per year. The words in the keyword bucket can often demonstrate general indicators of the “basket”, which in turn is estimated in relation to another with more or less traffic. Also, keyword buckets can distort long-tail keywords, showing a result of several dozen searches. Short keywords can deliver hundreds of thousands of searches per month. Read the related article – Long Tail Keywords.
  2. Rounding of Average Monthly Search Volume Data. Since GKT uses 12 months as the main period for measuring search volume, it can lead to severe distortion of average monthly and seasonal data. This will in turn lead to errors in planning campaigns, especially short-term. The most common examples are the seasonal surge in requests related to holidays or popular sporting events. A spike in searches during a particular month can create a false impression of the search volume of words that can be associated with the most popular seasonal and event searches.
  3. Incorrect and Strange Recommendations. The algorithm of the Google Keywords Tool service works not only by choosing words based on the query but also by using the algorithms of the search engine. As a result, you can often get very strange variations for keywords. Some of them will not be related to the original query or subject at all. For example, with the keywords event and event organization, the service suggested the name of the 1986 youth comedy Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and the phrase force majeure:

Therefore, when working with keywords in Google Keyword Tools, you need to be especially careful and check everything that the program selects for your request before starting an advertising campaign or SEO-promotion using these recommendations.

How to Use Google Keyword Planner to Get Best Results?

One of the main disadvantages of GKP is that search volume data for keywords is only available to those who run an AdWord ad campaign. In other cases, the Avg.monthly searches field looks like this:

Let’s see how to work with GKT to get more meaningful data.

  • Using the free version of GKT to access the search volume. First, you need to enter the words of your search into the keywords search tool. For a vegan food searcj, the metric would be expected to look like this:

In comparison, when using the SEMrush SEO service, the keyword data includes specific information about the search volume.


To get data on potential impressions for keywords from Google Keyword Tools, you can use the data from estimated impressions for maximum CPC. To do this, enter the necessary words into the Discover New keywords tool, then select them from the list suggested by Google, specifying the exact match setting in the broad match section.

Then mark the selected words by clicking on Add Keywords on the same panel. Go to the Plan Overview menu section.

When you go to the Plan Overview block, data on keywords will be shown, including impressions that reflect the expected number of impressions during the month if you run an advertisement. This indicator can be considered an approximate forecast of search volume.

It is also worth making sure that the CPC is set on maximum. To do this, click on the checkmark on the right side of the table.

  • Another way to find keywords is to use competitors’ sites, blogs, articles, etc. In the Google Keywords Tool, you can enter not only words but also site URLs when searching. Also, to search for keywords through the site page, you can use the start with a website search function.

By specifying the URL of the site, you can get many variants of keywords, including long-tail keywords:

To get more options, you can use different resources. In order to get rid of the presence in the branded keywords, you should use the keyword filter described above.

  • A good option would be to select keywords for popular searches in your niche. For example, let’s ask questions about keyword research.

As a result, you can get 517 ideas with keywords and phrases.

By using different question words (what, when, who, why, where, how) you can get hundreds of keywords and ideas for content creation.

  • To get targeted or specific niche keywords, you can make a geolocation-based search by specifying the country and city in Google planer such as Seattle, Washington:

Searching for keywords for car rental in this region yielded 470 results, but most of them were related to brands of companies that already operated there. To discard unnecessary options, you should use filters. At the same time, using the location in keywords will make the content more attractive to the target audience, so it is worth keeping in mind this possibility of the GKT tool.

When using GKT, you can find out which searches are most popular in different countries and regions. To do this, we need to reuse the plan overview that we used to estimate the search volume. For example, there will be a request for healthy food. In the location settings, remove the country or city. Now, the search will be carried out for all locations.

According to the results, it can be seen that the healthy food search is the most popular in the UK (24%) and the USA (23%).

  • GKT can also be used to find out what devices are being used by people who are interested in a particular search. In the case of the healthy food example, you can see that most of the views and impressions were from mobile phones:

When optimizing, you need to take into account that the target audience will see the content from a small screen. This means that it is important to take care of the convenience for users in order to ensure a good user experience. Read the related article – Mobile Search.

Google Trip Planner for SEO

Google Maps Trip Planner is becoming more and more popular among travelers. It allows you to easily and quickly plan a trip without resorting to the services of travel agencies. It can also be classified as an effective and promising tool for marketing and SEO.

When Google announced its new Google Trips tool in 2019, the emphasis was on the complexity of the service and its help to save users’ time and resources.

Google Trips

The service works in mobile and desktop versions, and it allows you to develop a route, select tickets, and book a hotel. With its help, you can also get acquainted with ways to spend time at your destination. The service describes attractions, entertainment, options for a cultural program, cafes, and restaurants.

It basically integrates the functionality of Google Trips, Google Search, and Google Maps. Also, the tool offers popular directions, depending on the user’s geolocation.

In order to effectively use the Google Maps Trip Planner service for promotion, you should focus primarily on local SEO, including phrases such as near me in keywords. It can also be helpful to begin using the specifics of the area and the specifics of your pastime. Top Google Ranking Factors for Local Search are as follows.

  1. Relevance to the request.
  2. Distance from the user’s location.
  3. Famousness of the place, reputation, and availability of sufficient information.

At the same time, fame plays a greater role in getting into high SERP positions than distance. In its guidelines, Google advises the following for local SEO:

  1. Indicate the most complete information on the site.
  2. Specify the exact address and way to get to this place.
  3. Fill the content with photos.
  4. Actively respond to reviews, answer questions, and communicate with the target audience.

Find out more in the article – Local SEO Checklist 2020.

When working on content and selecting relevant keywords for promotion in the Google Trip Planner, it is also worth taking advantage of GKT’s capabilities, especially when analyzing popular searches in a specific area.

In summary, we can say that despite the imperfections, with limited functionality in terms of SEO and insufficiently accurate data, Google Keyword Tool is a multifunctional tool. It can be effectively used not only for advertising but also for SEO, but for searching and analyzing keywords and ideas for content. In addition, it is 100% free, making it especially attractive and relevant for small businesses and those working on low-budget projects.

About author
Leyla is a journalist with more than 15 years of experience. She also worked at marketing - PR and advertising (about 7 years). She was so interested in IT, especially SEO. Now Leyla is deep in SEO, this sphere inspires her for new issues and researches.