How to Use The Keyword Planner — The New Keyword Tool From Google AdWords

Last month, Google quietly began rolling out the AdWords Keyword Planner to select AdWords accounts last month. In typical AdWords fashion, one of the biggest overhauls of the Google Keyword Tool ever went almost unnoticed!



This new keyword tool combines elements of two existing keyword tools, the Google Keyword Tool and the AdWords Traffic Estimator, adding a more structured and integrated workflow as well as all sorts of new bells and whistles.

If you’ve ever used the Google Keyword Tool and/or AdWords Traffic Estimator in the past, take note here – the new Keyword Planner will most certainly replace both tools in the near future, and your workflow will undoubtedly change as a result.

What’s A Keyword Planner, Anyway?

The Keyword Planner is a more focused version of the Google Keyword Tool and AdWords Traffic Estimator tool, and the focus is on doing one thing only: to make it easier for advertisers to get through the process of creating new ad groups and ad campaigns, which is the key to getting your PPC accounts off to a good start.

It differs from the existing Google Keyword Tool and AdWords Traffic Estimator tools in that the old tools were more general purpose, unstructured tools. They could be used for just about anything, including Keyword Research for SEO. This new tool, on the other hand, is more like an ultimate AdWords campaign building workshop.

The Keyword Planner has a “wizard” type interface. The first step in the process is to determine how you’re going to go about creating your ad campaigns and ad groups. You’re asked to pick one of 3 possible paths:

  • Search for Keyword and Ad Group Ideas
  • Enter or Upload Keywords to get Estimates
  • Multiply keyword lists to get Estimates

Here’s what this looks like in AdWords:


Searching For Keyword & Ad Group Ideas

Most of the time when creating a new campaign in AdWords, you’ll need to rely on Google to provide you with keyword suggestions to pick from. Therefore, the primary flow through the Keyword Planner is to “Search for keyword and ad group ideas.”

Clicking on that option whisks you off to the next stage of the Keyword Planner, which provides a robust keyword workbench for researching and picking keywords to add to your AdWords account, illustrated below:


Using this interface, the Keyword Planner lets you brainstorm keywords using any or all of the following three methods:

  • By Keyword:  you can type in a word or phrase relevant to your business
  • By Landing Page: by entering a landing page on your site (or any competitor’s webpages, for that matter), the Keyword Planner will scan and infer keywords that are relevant to those pages
  • By Product Category: you can select from one of thousands of pre-defined keyword categories

Filtering Keywords From Your Keyword Plan

Additionally, the Keyword Planner provides robust filtering capabilities so you can be super picky with what keywords you choose to add to your PPC account. For example, you can filter keywords based on the following ways:

  • Average CPC: include or exclude keywords that fall above or below a desired Cost Per Click
  • Estimated Search Volume: include or exclude keywords that fall above or below a desired monthly search volume
  • Keyword Competition: you can narrow your list based on estimated advertiser competition
  • Exclude Keywords Already In Your Account:  the Keyword Planner can automatically exclude keywords that are already in your own AdWords account to avoid having duplicate keywords
  • Filter by Keyword: you can specify to include or exclude keywords containing specific terms

Setting Targeting Parameters

Because keyword research requires analyzing keyword statistics in order to determine whether or not a given keyword makes sense for your business, Google lets you customize the keyword stats and performance estimates so that they’re relevant to your campaigns. This means they let you specify targeting parameters such as language, country and search network.

List View Vs. Grouped View

One nice feature is the ability to view keywords in the Keyword Planner that appear either in list view or in grouped view – this is analogous to the concept of keyword niches and keyword lists.

Your “Keyword Plan”

As you discover promising terms looking at individual keywords or keyword groupings, you have the ability to add them to “Your Plan,” which is a temporary storage area for saving interesting-looking keywords and keyword groupings for later.

The Keyword Planner maintains state for the duration of your session – keywords that you add to “Your Plan” are saved while you’re in the process of looking for keywords.

This is a nice change — previously, when using the Google Keyword Tool and AdWords Traffic Estimator separately, there was a bit of a disjointed workflow where you had to save the results of the Google Keyword Tool, then open the file and copy/paste it as input to the AdWords Traffic Estimator. These two separate processes are now integrated into a single, seamless one.

When you’re done picking keywords and adding them into “Your Plan,” click on the Get Estimates and Review Plan button.

Getting Estimates & Reviewing Your Plan

The next stage of the Keyword Plan process involves setting a keyword bid and daily budget for your portfolio of keywords and keyword groupings.

Since keyword volume and CPC bid estimates are based on your budget, bid, location and other competitive factors, you’ll need to provide Google with some information in order to customize your estimates.

For example, you could enter a bid of $50 and a daily budget of $2,000.00 and click on the Get Detailed Estimates button — the Keyword Planner will then generate daily estimates for Clicks, Impressions, Average ad position and costs, as shown below:


Once finalized, you can download your detailed keyword plan in a variety of different formats, such as Excel or AdWords Editor CSV, as shown below:


Enter Or Upload Your Own Keyword List

Another way of running though the Keyword Plan process is to start using your own keyword list. Sometimes, when creating a new campaigns, you may be fortunate enough to already be sitting on a treasure trove of keyword data (for example, several years of Web analytics data, including valuable keyword referral data).

If you’re in this enviable position, it may make sense to start the campaign creation process using your own keyword list rather than the generic keyword suggestions you get from the Keyword Suggestion Tool.  Here’s what that looks like:


When you press the Get Estimates button, you’ll be taken through the rest of the Keyword Plan process as described above — the only difference is that you’ll be looking at your own keyword list rather than the generic keywords suggested via the Google Keyword Tool.

Multiplying Keyword Lists Using Keyword Planner

A third and final way to work thorough the Keyword Planner is to mash-up and multiply keyword lists. For example, you might want to multiply a bunch of names of products with colors and word modifiers to come up with every imaginable keyword permutations, as shown below:


Note that you can have up to three lists to mash up, and clicking on the Get Estimates button brings you to the next stage of the Keyword Planner. The only difference between this and the other two methods is that you’ll be looking at your own keyword list based on the mash-up of the lists you provided.

I personally don’t like this option very much because your mashed-up keyword lists may bear little or no resemblance to how people naturally search for those words, though perhaps you could use this method if you absolutely don’t want to miss any possible keyword permutation.


The new Keyword Planner tool supports various workflows for building ad groups and campaigns either starting from scratch, or based on your existing lists, and provides more cohesive user experience by integrating the keyword selection, grouping, analysis and filtering aspects of the keyword selection workflow.

If you’re lucky, you can find the Keyword Planner tool in your AdWords account today. According to my contacts at Google, as of two weeks ago, it was enabled in only 5% of accounts. At that time, it took me 67 tries to finally find an account with the Keyword Planner; but as of today, I’m finding it in roughly one out of every 5 accounts. It appears that Google is opening up Keyword Planner access to a greater number of accounts over time, so hopefully you’ll see it in your account soon!

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: B2B Search Marketing Column | Channel: SEM | Google: AdWords


About The Author: is founder and CTO of WordStream, provider of the AdWords Grader and 20 Minute PPC Work Week.

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  • Todd Lohenry

    I see no such tool in adwords. What am I missing?

  • Larry Kim

    it’s being rolled out in beta. it’s in around 10-20% of accounts. the number is increasing over time. see last sentence of article.

  • Kevin

    If this tool does indeed replace the keyword tool sometime soon, it’s going to take some getting used to. It seems I can still pull out similar keyword data, but it takes longer, and I am not sure what it might be missing (I’ve only been playing with the tool for a few minutes this morning). So far, I can’t find a way to get search volume numbers for phrase or exact match keywords in the “search” tool.

    I guess the keyword tool API may still be available, even if the keyword tool goes away?

  • Jagadish

    Thanks Larry for such a great update, as of now the rolling is not update on my account, but looking forward to explore this tool.


  • Todd Lohenry

    Maybe it should be in the first sentence considering the length of the article…

  • Larry Kim

    ha ha. this was my longest article ever. something like 1400 words.

  • Larry Kim

    if you have other adwords accounts, try looking in those accounts. it’s popping up in more and more accounts over time.

  • Larry Kim

    hi kevin, i suspect the keyword tool api will be less available in future.

    The way to get the numbers for phrase and exact is to enter the keywords using the match type mark-up on the keyword when you search for it. So for example, “Ice Cream” or [Ice Cream].

  • Todd Lohenry

    Don’t get me wrong, it’s great content but you had me heading to Adwords after the first paragraph…

  • Kevin

    Hi Larry, thanks for the reply. In my test I input these 3 keywords:

    flowers, “flowers”, [flowers]

    The “historical stats” results show the same search volume for each of the 3 keywords, and the displaying table does not have the quote or bracket styles – maybe I am missing something?

    The question mark tooltip next to “Avg. monthly searches” explains that the number is showing exact match numbers only. Oddly enough, when compared to the exact match number being supplied in the keyword tool, they do not match (450,000 for the old tool, 673,000 for the new tool).

  • Nikhil Raj. R

    I used this new tool just 2 days before and it is a nice tool. The best thing is that it shows the Average CPC for each keyword without going to SEMrush or Wordstream ;)

  • Rob Bunting

    Thanks for the great rundown Larry, the screen shots and detailed wlak-throguh are very helpful. This looks like a nice improvement in terms of building a more comprehensive set of data to estimate fututre AdWords results.

    I have been using the (now old) Keyword Tool for a long time for both SEO and PPC purposes and demonstrating it in my basic SEO class for keyword research so non-AdWords advertisers can use it externally (outside of AdWords) for SEO purposes. Any idea if this will be able to be used by people outside of AdWords as well?

  • Larry Kim


  • Larry Kim

    I believe there will be an external facing URL for the tool. I think it will be located here:
    so i think that it should be accessible to people outside of adwords.

  • Rob Bunting

    Yes, that link seems to work. Thanks Larry.

  • Larry Kim

    when i click “modify search” it says: Enter Keywords, one per line or separated by commas.

    To specify a match type, add punctuation:
    * Broad Match: New York Hotels
    * Phrase Match: “New York Hotels”
    * Exact Match: [New York Hotels]

    however when i do this, the numbers are all wrong. so i guess it is still buggy.

  • Larry Kim

    does this external link work for you:

  • Todd Lohenry

    That was kind of you to try, but no; Sorry, you don’t have access to this page.

  • Aaron Mai

    Thanks Larry, I cant stand trying it out but looks like I have to wait for awhile. heizzzz. Is there anyway that we can ask to enable the tool in our account sooner?

  • Larry Kim

    it’s not like the other adwords betas. it just seems to show up randomly in your accounts over time!

  • Derek Ostler

    It was all buggy for me to. Please let me know if you get it to work. I us exact and phrase more the broad match.

  • Andy Kuiper – SEO Analyst

    Awesome tutorial Larry :-) btw, I don’t see it here in Canada on any of my accounts… yet

  • Larry Kim

    if you have multiple accounts check them all

  • J D

    Good article. I use the planner almost every day, and yes, it gives me immediate insights into which keywords I want to utilize for myself, and for my customers. Some SEO’s think other keyword tools are “better”, and maybe so, but I think that smart keywords and intelligent on-site optimization scores the most points w Google. I wrote an article on SEO that entered the SERPs at 189, rose to 107 in three days, then 39 the next day, and for a very competitive kw. Zero backlinks, N/A PR and boom… Six different IPs from Google examined that page one morning, then it immediately fell to <200. So I think I hit the sweetspot with the on-page seo. When we rise fast or enter the top ten, human beings at Google get involved.

  • SnarkyOne

    ” … one of the biggest overhauls of the Google Keyword Tool ever went almost unnoticed!”

    Google adds features and drops them just as quickly. I gave up being excited – or rushing to incorporate – many of Google’s “new features” since they have a habit of ending them just as suddenly. I’ve gown weary of Google’s thrashing around and calling it innovation.

  • getspread

    check this new site for all latest information n can even submit ur url on

  • Jason Clark

    Great article on a roll-out that definitely flew under the radar. Merging the Keyword Tool and Traffic Estimator makes a lot of sense. However, I’m not crazy about the UI and hope the old tools don’t go away anytime soon.

  • David K Anderson

    Looks like you’ve got a couple months with the old tools, fixme.

  • fixmedinner

    Thanks, David. Has Google announced that the old tools will be going away? Any documentation on this?

  • Kevin

    Hi Larry – because they’ve “launched” the tool and announced the “sunset” on the old tool, I came back and tried to use it again today; I am still seeing this same problem (the same volume numbers for broad, phrase, & exact). Also, the number is WAY different than the one given in the current keyword tool (720 vs 33100 impressions for one test keyword).

    This “bug”, and the disparity between the numbers coming out of the two tools really worry me. Have you had any chance to further investigate why we can’t seem to get different numbers for broad, phrase, & exact?


  • shiva ohm
  • CandleForex

    Dunno about you Larry, but we HATE the new Google keyword tool interface and it seems some info that would previously have been available, is now gone.

    An option to stick to the old interface, like in the past had better be coming soon.

  • Sharla Laurin

    This may be great for planning PPC campaigns, but I’ve always used keyword tool effectively for seeking out long tail keywords, and I am so frustrated with the loss. This keyword planner does nothing for a content creator! Instead of a couple hundred suggestions which I can organize by competition levels, I get a few suggestions for each subject, and I’m not able to even find the low competition options with this. I am so tired of Google playing dance monkey dance. I know there are other tools out there for long tail research, but a lot of them aren’t free, and many are less broad based effective.

  • Rohan Ayyar

    Sharla, there are quite a few free tools such as Ubersuggest, (which you must already be using, albeit in a slightly different way) and WordStream (trial) that I’m sure you’ll find useful in your content creation strategy. Here’s a list for you:

  • Kevin

    Larry, did you ever get a solution to this? I’m experiencing the same issue.

  • Anthony Baisi

    It’s actually in the first sentence @livingbusiness:disqus : “Last month, Google quietly began rolling out the AdWords Keyword Planner to select AdWords accounts last month.”
    See, select accounts.
    Great article @larry_kim:disqus

  • Amber Rose

    Now Google has made my keyword search very difficult, I can’t get upto 800 keyword suggestions in a new keyword planner, so now it needs more brainstorming.

    Anyone have an idea how i can get the same keyword ideas as of keyword tool, as google will be closing keyword tool in near future and it’s a demand of a time to learn some new things.

  • Fraser Wood

    Hi guys, I’m with Kevin on this one – without the ability to differentiate between Exact, Phrase and Broad match numbers; this tool is unusable.

    Tbh just knowing which one of the three types the data comes from would be a start.

    Has anyone got an answer on this?

  • WonderfulWorld2


  • αmjαth

    Hi Larry,

    what did you mean by ‘outside of adwords’? It does requires an adwords account and you to be logged in to access the tool.

    Am I missing anything here?



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