Google Keyword Planner Guide

How to use Google’s KW planner tool to find the right keywords and CPCs for your business

This is a short guide to show you how to do some basic keyword research to understand what keywords you should target for your business and what the average CPC (cost per click) is for you business.

This is intended as a simplified guide to help someone who is not familiar with running google ads, as opposed to a full training guide that covers all the nuances of keyword research.

We will break the process down into some logical steps

  1. Keyword Ideas
  2. Accessing Google KW Planning Tool
  3. Creating your keyword plan
  4. Understanding the search volumes and CPCs

Keyword ideas – selecting relevant keywords

Before jumping into the keyword planner itself the first step in the process is to compile a list of keywords that you think people will search for when looking for the products or services that your company offers. 

Think about how you search when you are looking online, it is often helpful to think as a consumer and reflect on the last time you searched for something unrelated to your business. Think of a product or service that you are ready to buy, what would you type into Google? 

When selecting keywords try and make sure they pass the following tests:

  • Specific – be as specific as possible, try and avoid generic keywords like Hotel, instead be more specific – family friendly hotel in southwark
  • Commercially relevant – We typically want users who are ready to take action, who are not researching. For example if you are were a fencing company you wouldnt want research terms like how to put up a fence, or fencing jobs. You would want searches that indicate a commercial intent, like fencing company near me.

Here are some tips to help you build a basic list (remember we are not looking for in depth keyword research here, just a quick process to help understand the likely CPC’s for your industry.)

  • Ask a friend or family member what they would search to find a business that offers your service. For example lets say you were looking for a plumber to replace a boiler, think about what you would search for. You may search for things like, plumber near me, boiler replacement services, cost of a boiler replacement, boiler installation specialist in your location. 
  • Another way to get additional keywords if you are struggling with coming up with ideas is to start to type one in google and you will often see a list of related keyword suggestions based on what other people have searched for, this can be a great way of finding relevant keywords (see image below)
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  • There are also some great tools. We love Answer the public this is a great tool to see how users are searching for a specific topic. 
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As you can see Keyword research is quite an in depth process and we have only touched on it briefly here. 

Accessing Google Keyword planner

Googles keyword planner is a great resource and it is free to use, however the catch is you will need a google ads account to use it. 

We have a step by step video on how to create an account here: https://youtu.be/HV16yD4W10g it is quick and easy to do and will only take a few minutes.

Once you have your account set-up you just need to click on the Tools & Setting Icon in the top menu

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Then choose Keyword Planner from the drop down menu as shown below

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And thats it, you should have access now!

Creating your keyword plan

Once you have created your account and have access to the keyword planner you should arrive here:

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As you can see you are presented with two options, Discover new keywords or Get search volume and forecasts. 

Both options will eventually lead to exactly the same place. The first option, discover new keywords is designed to help you choose your keywords, this helps suggest keywords you may be interested in, whereas get search volume and forecasts is the one to use if you already know what keywords you are interested in. 

Lets look at both options

Discover new keywords

When selecting this option you can start by entering one or more keywords into the search box, or you can you opt to start with a website, which can either be your own website or that of a competitor. We always recommend using the start with keywords approach, however it can be useful to try the start with a website option to see what other keyword ideas google suggests. 

Let’s go through the options.

Start with keywords:

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You can enter up to 10 keywords here, simply hit enter after each keyword or separate them with commas. Again try and make these as specific as possible so they are relevant to your business using the lessons outlined in the previous keyword guide.

Also if you add your website in the box below this will help google filter out irrelevant keywords. It will do this by crawling your site and google will try and understand from your website content which keywords are relevant to your business.

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Start with a website

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If you want Google to suggest some keywords based on your own website, or a competitors simply put your website address in the box and on the next step Google will suggest relevant keywords.

If you are looking for a campaign for a specific service you offer, rather than your whole business you may want to select Use on this page. For example if you have 10 services on your website and you want to focus on marketing one of them, you will get more relevant suggestions if you restrict google to just the specific page on your website that promotes this page. 

Whichever approach you choose the next screen will be the same, this is where things get interesting and you start to see some real data.

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Here are a few important things to consider:

  1. Location – the data shown will default to the whole of the UK. If you click on the location you can choose specific towns or cities, and remove the UK. This is useful if your business serves a specific location or territory and you want to see the demand in your areas. If you have a business that services the whole country leave this set to the UK.
  2. The graph at the top shows the monthly search volume for all of the keywords returned and the amount of these searches that occur on a mobile device. 
  3. The list of keywords will contain the keywords you provided and a list of what google things are similar or relevant keywords. So be aware that not all keywords displayed will be those you are interested in
  4. If you tick the checkbox next to keywords you can add them into a plan, so you start building up relevant lists. You can also choose to group your saved keywords into Ad groups which helps you build out a more organised list of keywords. For example if you wanted to understand searches relating to Estate Agent and Property Valuation you would group the keywords into those two different categories. This option will become available when you click save – see below
  5. The columns displayed as standard are:
    1. Keywords – this is just the keyword text e.g. estate agency;
    2. Avg monthly searches – the average monthly searches based on the last 12 months (the small graph shows how demand has fluctuated by month, helping you see the seasonality of the keyword);
    3. Three month and Year on Year change – this shows whether the volumes are increasing or decreasing over the specified period;
    4. Competition – this is useful, generally the higher the competition the more valuable the keyword is. You can see this as a proxy for value;
    5. Impression share – this will be blank unless you are already running a campaign with this keyword in;
    6. Top of page bid (low range & high range) – This shows historically how much people have paid per click to get their advert showing in one of the top 4 ads at the top of the search page. This will differ a lot based on time of day, level of competition, impression share etc. We would recommend basing your estimated CPC on the high range so you take a realistic approach to your planning.

Using this method means you will need to select which keywords you want to use in your plan and then you will need to save these keywords in order to get an accurate forecast. If you started with a keyword list you will skip this step.

Filtering and choosing your keywords

Google will often show you a long list of keywords, so using the available filters will help you select the most relevant keywords. Lets look at the filters available. You can use multiple filters at the same time

First, click ‘Add filter’:

image 9

You will then be presented with a list of filters:

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Here are a few of the quick ways to filter:

Volume – you can choose to include only keywords with more than a certain number of monthly searches.

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Keyword includes certain words that you want to target, e.g. if you add near it would only show keywords that include that word within them.

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Now you only see keywords that contain the word near. 

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Once you identify keywords that you want to target, tick the checkbox on the left hand side and add them to the plan. 

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Once you have added all your keywords you can then click on the forecast tab, this will also be where you end up if you started by uploading your list of keywords, lets look at the method now.

Starting with your keyword list

If you have already got a list of keywords and just want to understand the search volumes and CPC you can just paste your list into this box and skip the google suggestions.

Simply paste them in the box either separated by commas or one keyword to a line. You can also upload a list if you have a compatible csv list.

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As you can see you end up on the same screen, the only difference is, if you take this approach you only see the data for the keywords you added. Google will not add its suggestions to the list.

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As you have told google which keywords you are interested in you can now see a forecast of your plan.

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Click on Forecast and this will show you the data for all of your chosed keywords. Important for this to be accurate you will need to edit the location from National to the area you are looking to target, in this example birmingham. 

You do this be clicking on the location pin

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Then click on the X to remove United kingdom, and add the specific location you want to target with your campaign, in this case Birmingham UK.

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Understanding the search volumes and CPCs

For the purposes of the [PPC Calculator] you could just take the Average of the CPCs from the top of page bid for your chosen keywords. This will give you a sensible idea of the correct CPC to use for your campaign. 

Or you can take the average of all the keywords you have chosen from your plan estimate. To make this effective make sure you have set the location correctly:

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You now know that the average CPC for your chosen keywords is £6.47. So you can head back to the PPC calculator and get your tailored estimate.

Andy - Founder

Andy has extensive commercial experience at companies including Autotrader, Zoopla, and MNA Media. As a digital specialist he has over 25 years of experience in digital transformation and marketing.

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