Google Keyword Planner is much easier to access in 2018. It no longer requires going through the process below to set up an account. I’ve left the documentation up for reference on authentication issues. You only need to create a free account through Google AdWords, then access it here. To skip to the setup section, click here.
Google Keyword Planner is a fantastic way to search out keywords to write about. It gives you an idea of the search volume for various keywords. You’ll never have to wonder about what to write again. Searching a single keyword will return related results and show how much people search for them. Using this, you can grab about 10-15 keywords, save them to a list, and plan out your content for the next month or so.
Guide to Google Keyword Planner
Google’s Keyword Planner is actually part of Google AdWords. You have to sign up for an account with AdWords, but don’t have to pay for a campaign to access the tool we’ll be using. Accessing Keyword Planner is free. However, it can sometimes be a little tricky to get to due to some known technical issues. Typically, after you’re able to access it once, there won’t be any problems with it after that.
Create a New Account
The easiest way to access Google Keyword Planner is to sign up for a new account with AdWords. I have a separate Gmail account purely for keyword research. My reports, updates, and any other related activity go to that account, which is tied to AdWords. If absolutely necessary, you can use an existing AdWords account, which I’ll cover below.
1. Go to Google Keyword Planner and sign up for a new account.
This will prompt you to log in. Select “Create an account”on the top right of the screen.
2. Do NOT enter any information here. Click “Skip the guided setup.”
This is what can lock you into creating a campaign, often leaving you unable to bypass the payment screen. Google has confirmed the issue, but they only offer support to paid accounts.
3. Enter the email you would like to use for AdWords and your timezone. Save and continue.
Here, you can proceed as usual and it should allow you to access your AdWords dashboard. You can find Google Keyword Planner under the Tools menu, shown below.
If You Have an Existing Account
If you have already proceeded to create a campaign and are unable to continue to the AdWords dashboard, you have a few options.
Clear your browser cache.
In your link, you should have something that looks like this:
u=0000000000&__c=0000000000&authuser=0 (The zeros will be a bunch of different numbers.)
If you change the 0 after the authuser= to a 1, sometimes this will allow you to bypass campaign creation. You will have to do this every time you access AdWords from now on until you actually set up a campaign.
Create a new account as shown above or contact support! They can be reached at 866-246-6453, 9 AM to 8 PM EST. I don’t know how much help they provide for accounts that have not paid for a campaign, as on the forums they typically state that they are aware of the problem for free accounts, but will assist customers that have already paid for a campaign.
The other option is to run a 30-day campaign for $.02 a day, which also gives you access to the AdWords dashboard. (However, Google has stated that it does make Google Keyword Planner available without having to pay for it.)
There are three ways to find keywords with Google Keyword Planner: by a phrase, a website, or a product category. Usually, we’ll want to search using a phrase or website.
In this example, I’m only going to use a handful of keywords centered around a topic. However, it’s a good idea to include a few extra keywords related to your topic. You might want to even do a few separate searches. Everything we need will be under the “Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category” drop-down in the keyword planner.
Search by Phrase
Starting off, we’ll mostly want to search by phrase. Since I want to write about aromatherapy, I’ll just type aromatherapy in the first field and click “Get ideas.”
When you search a keyword, it also brings up tons of related keywords. So the more topics you enter, the more results you get. For instance, if you also want to write about specific kinds of essential oils, you might do something like this: aromatherapy, essential oils, lavender essential oil, benefits of essential oil. (Oil will come up as a search result, but we don’t want to target just “oil.” Look for specific keywords.)
The only two fields we really want to pay attention to right now are “Avg. monthly searches” and “Competition.” Right now, we mostly want to pay attention to search terms that have a high amount of searches and low to medium competition. However, these are just the search terms you put in, or something close to them. Below what we searched for, we’ll find a separate section with hundreds of related keywords.
As you can see, most of these are high competition and might not be something you want to start off with. However, the next page shows some keywords that are low to medium competition with about 1-10k monthly searches: best essential oil companies, aromatherapy benefits, what is essential oil. These are all things our target audience wants to know about so we can use some of these keywords as the topics for some of our posts. You might write a collection of reviews on the various essential oil companies. Come up with a few lists of the benefits of aromatherapy or specific essential oil.
A Note on Competition
The competition field in Keyword Planner is specific to Google advertising. If you want a more accurate example of how much competition you’ll have in ranking, check out MozBar.
After you install MozBar, go to Google.com and search for the keyword you want to rank for. Visit the sites in the first few pages and check out their PA/DA rankings (page authority and domain authority). If the search results are packed with tons of high-authority sites, it’s going to be difficult to rank. However, if most of them aren’t ranked very well, you’ve got a good chance of ranking above them with a little work.
The next search feature we can use is the option to pull up keywords with a website link. So let’s say I know of a site that covers a lot of aromatherapy content. (In this case, I’m going to use AromaWeb.) You can either go back to the Keyword Planner under the tools tab, or you can click “Modify search” at the top, by your search bar.
In the example below, you’ll see that our results are much better. Already, we have more variety in the keywords that show up, more specific keywords, and they have a good range of low to medium keywords, with only a few high competition ones. In my results, I got about 640 keywords. Note that only a handful of those may be relevant to your content. However, you can go through the list and jot down keywords to your heart’s content. There are content ideas aplenty on this list!
The last option we have is to search by product category. I highly suggest using this in combination with another search method, as it has a tendency to return very broad results. Our goal with the keyword planner is to get more ideas on what to write our content about. Searching by product has results all over the place. Below, I’ve selected the Aromatherapy & Essential Oils product category. Then I sorted by “Avg. monthly searches.”
As you can see, there’s a lot of one-word keywords, which isn’t what we want to target. We want keywords that are broad enough to write a lot of content on, but not so broad that it could start branching into unrelated topics.
As you can see in this result, there’s a lot of keywords that include “Young Living.” It doesn’t get better if you go further into the results, either. If my primary focus is to do company reviews and let people know where they can get their essential oils, this would be great. But if you’re just looking to write about information on aromatherapy and essential oils, you may not want to write about a specific company. Again, we want to be as specific as possible, so using two search methods at the same time to filter your keywords isn’t a bad idea. If you want to use my AromaWeb example, then add a product category to your search, that will return much more relevant results.
The great thing about Google Keyword Planner is that it also allows you to filter your search even further with the ability to omit specific keywords from the result. For instance, if we wanted to try searching just by product category again, we could do that and filter out things like “young living” and “youngliving” and maybe “doterra.” This would leave us with some of the smaller companies, so if we did want to do something on where to buy essential oils, our results are much more varied.
On the right, there are some other options you have to create even more specific filters for your keywords.
I don’t recommend using the first option too much unless what you’re searching for includes thousands of results. You can use it to target average monthly searches and competition for that keyword. The other two are irrelevant to us right now unless you plan on setting up a campaign in AdWords.
In the second option, we mostly want to look at “Only show ideas closely related to my search terms.” This lets us narrow it down if the search results are returning too many keywords that are irrelevant.
The third option you can use to only include specific keywords. This is a good idea when you know what keywords you want to target and just want to see search volume and competition.
And there we have it! There is a lot more functionality to this tool if you’re using it for campaigns, but for a little keyword research, it works perfectly. I’ll also cover some other tools you can use to get keyword and content ideas in upcoming posts, but spend some time playing around with Google Keyword Planner. When you know how to use it and what to look for, it can really be a powerful tool (for free!).
If you have any questions about keyword research, feel free to leave a comment below. I’ll cover some more tools later on, so if you have any that you want me to try out and write about, feel free to suggest it!
I’d also like to know what everyone else is using. If you have any insights, I’d love to hear from you. Let me know in the comments.