How to Use Google Keyword Planner: The Best Free SEO Tool To Help You Plan Website Content

Google has a secret algorithm, like a cooking recipe, that they use to decide where to rank websites when people enter certain words, called keywords, into their search engine. Building website content around this recipe is called search engine optimization (SEO). It’s a set of best practices to help Google find your website content, and rank it high in search engine results pages (SERP).

google keyword planner tool

How Do You Determine Keywords?

One of the biggest ingredients in the recipe is using relevant keywords and key phrases, which are the word or words people enter into Google’s search engine. But how do you figure out what these words are? 

One option is to just think like a potential customer. If you were to enter keywords into Google to find out something about what you sell or offer, what words would you enter? It’s helpful to ask friends and family, especially those who don’t know a lot about your business, what keywords they’d enter into Google. Then write blog posts, articles, product pages, or more using those words. 

But running a business is hard enough. If you’re too tired to do this kind of thinking, you can also use Google’s Keyword Planner tool to find phrases people frequently use to search. The best part is that Google’s Keyword Planner tool is free!

A third option is to pay for more advanced keyword planning tools like Ahrefs. These tools let you see specifically what keywords your competitors are getting a lot of traffic for. However, we don’t recommend paying for anything until you learn more about keywords using free tools. 

With Google’s Keyword Planner tool, you can create an action plan to get more of those words onto your website.  At SEO Design Chicago, we can also do keyword research and build content around these keywords for you. But if you want to start on your own, your first step should be to visit Google Keyword Planner. Then when writing, you want to use the keywords in the title, subheads (i.e. the bolded subheads like the one below), and the main text on every page.  

google keyword planning

What Is Google Keyword Planner?

Google’s Keyword Planner is one of the most popular keyword research tools out there. It’s been around the longest, and since Google runs the tool, it fits perfectly into optimizing (or building) website pages to rank high in search results.  

An Overview of Google Keyword Planner

Google Keyword Planner is a free way for digital writers, content creators, podcasters, and videographers to conduct research about what their clients might find interesting. It also tells them what Google is likely to feature on page one of their search results. This kind of traffic is called free, or organic. If you use the right words and phrases, in the right places, you’ll be featured high in SERPs. 

Google’s Keyword Planner can also be used to research what words and phrases to include in paid Google Ads. These ads cost money, of course, but the Keyword Planner gives you an estimate of how many people search for that keyword or phrase every month, and how much it will cost you to run ads using those words.  

How to Set Up a Google Keyword Planner Account

Now that you understand what the Keyword Planner can do, let’s set up an account. 

Create an Account

Like all Google products, including YouTube, you need a Google account to use the Google Keyword Planner. If you already have an account, you will need to log in.

Log In

Once you have created your new account, or if you already have one, log into Keyword Planner using your username and password.

Choose a Task

Next, click the blue box that tells you to go to Keyword Planner. It will then ask you if you want to Discover New Keywords or Get Search Volumes and Forecasts. In the next section, we’ll take a look at both of these options.

google tools

Discover New Keywords

Discovering new keywords is a great way to learn what people who are interested in things related to your business type into Google’s search engine. For example, let’s say you own a Pilates studio in Chicago. You don’t want to be too general and type in “Pilates.” That will give you results of people everywhere looking for pilates-related gear or pilates video workouts. So “pilates studio Chicago” is better. When discovering new keywords, you can type in a single word or a string of words. 

You can also use a domain’s URL to help filter out suggestions that aren’t a good match for your business. So for example, if you own a Pilates studio, you could filter out large gyms, like Equinox, that offer a variety of classes, including Pilates. 

When you click on get results, you’ll see how many people search per month for that keyword or phrase you are interested in, how much it has changed in demand year-over-year and over three months, the level of competition, and the cost per click (CPC). 

You’ll also see that the tool provides you with ideas. For example, people will often search “near me” instead of the name of a town. This helps you plan content. In the pilates example, some of your posts and pages should include titles like, “Why should I attend pilates near me instead of online?” Then you can have another post or page that says “Top Pilates Studio in Chicago.” That way, you’ll attract different potential customers who use different search terms. 

Let’s look at what each of these terms means.

Monthly Search Volume

This tells you how many people are searching for this keyword each month. The tool defaults to search volume in the United States, but you can change it to your town or state. In the case of a brick-and-mortar business, like a Pilates studio, you should narrow the location.

Demand Year-Over-Year and Over 3 Months

This tells you if the search volume for this keyword or phrase is staying the same, increasing, or decreasing. This can be important in identifying trends in the industry. For example, there’s been a 900% increase in the number of people searching for a Pilates studio over the last year. That may mean people are wanting to get back to in-person classes, after doing it from home for so long.

Competition and CPC

These terms refer to how competitive ad placement is for a keyword. This is specific to the location and Search Network targeting options that you’ve selected. The level — low, medium, or high — is determined by the number of advertisers bidding on each keyword. This factors into how much you may want to spend on these keywords if you chose to start paying for Google Ads. The CPC price is what you’ll end up paying if someone clicks on a paid Google Ad you’ve created using these keywords. At SEO Design Chicago, we often help companies figure out what keywords are worth paying a lot for, and which ones are just too costly. 

You can save keywords to see how they change over time or if you’re ready to start Google Ads, go to the next step. 

free seo tools

Search Volume And Forecasts

Your other option in the Google Keyword Planner tool is to “Get search volume and forecasts.” This looks similar but is slightly different than the option to “Discover New Keywords.”

Here, you want to take the keywords you found using the discover keywords tool and paste them into the large white box. 

From our pilates example, let’s say that we decided these keyword phrases are worth pursuing and monitoring:

  • Pilates classes Chicago
  • Reformer pilates Chicago 

But before you start paying for ads, or creating a lot of content about these topics, you may want to see if they’re really worth it. So you’ll enter or paste the phrases into the search volume and forecasts field, separated by commas.

You can stop here and simply monitor how these keywords are doing from time to time. Or you can create a Google Ad and see how it works. 

We have other posts that will walk you through the process of creating Google Ads. But if you don’t feel like reading them now, here are the basics: you click “create campaign.” You want to name it, ideally with the keywords you’re monitoring. You’ll be asked how much you want to spend per day on ads. This is where you want to factor in the CPC price. It’s OK to start small.

Saving the campaign doesn’t mean you’ve created an ad. It means you’ve started the process. You need an active Google account with money, and you need to create the ads. 

Get Help With Google Keyword Planning From SEO Design Chicago

If any of these steps sound overwhelming to you, don’t worry. SEO Design Chicago has a team of experienced SEO experts who can help you use the right keywords on your website and in your ads. For more information about our services and how we can help you optimize your digital marketing efforts, reach out to us!

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