How to use Google Keyword Planner for SEO

Google Keyword Planner can be extremely useful for SEO when developing your keyword strategy. Find out how.

You are reading: How to use Google Keyword Planner for SEO

Last week we ran through the differences between Google Keyword Planner and the Keyword Tool. All in all Keyword Planner should provide you with a more accurate overview of search volumes and related terms, so how can you harness this for the benefit of SEO? Read on…

In short there are three key ways in which Keyword Planner can bolster your SEO efforts, these are;

1. Keyword ideas
2. Comparing keywords
3. Competitor research

In order to drive quality traffic to your site it is essential to have a firm understanding of what information your target audience are looking for and the keywords they are using to find it.

Therefore, keywords are the backbone of a well thought-out SEO strategy and each of the above are useful ways of finding those keywords.

Let’s run through each in more detail.

As mentioned in my previous post it is now essential to have an AdWords account in order to use the Keyword Planner, but remember you don’t need active campaigns to get going.

For this post I will be using my favourite ‘go to’ example for keyword research, ‘cycling shorts’ (I’m not sure why). Although this is a retail based example the process is transferable to other sectors.

So, head to Keyword Planner under Tools and Analysis in the main menu bar on the Google Adwords dashboard.

1.Keyword ideas

You’ll be greeted with three options, for this example click on ‘Search for keyword and ad group ideas’ and enter your seed term, e.g. ‘cycling shorts’ and click Get Ideas.

The next page will default to an Ad Group ideas tab, which goes some way towards showing different themes based on your original seed term. Instead, click on the second tab, Keyword ideas, to view recommended keywords.

You will be presented with a list of keywords related to your seed term, showing Average Search Volume, Competition and Average CPC, all useful metrics for understanding the value of different keywords.

Keyword Planner - Cycling Shorts
Keyword research for SEO is all about discovering terms that your audience are looking for. And with Average Search Volume now based on exact match (previously broad match) you are able to see a more accurate representation of how many people are searching for specific terms.

Google being Google will undoubtedly return terms that do not include your seed term. A useful feature here is the Include/Exclude option on the left menu, where you can amend results to only show keywords including your seed term. You can also use the Targeting option to select specific locations if needed.

Use the remaining keyword ideas to inform your decision making process for page titles, H1’s, meta descriptions and on-page content.

2. Comparing keywords

Keyword research can open up a can of worms, suddenly you’re presented with a plethora of terms making it difficult to know which ones will ultimately return the most value for SEO.

As with most of marketing the trick is to find a healthy balance between data and good old fashioned gut instinct. And Keyword Planner can help with the data aspect when it comes to comparing keywords.

To help you focus on the right terms, use Keyword Planner to compare volume and value. In my example above I can see users are searching for specific types of cycling shorts, by gender and the best on the market. Immediately I can use this information to determine whether I should be considering different terms. Do I offer padded cycling shorts? Does my site have a page for mens cycling shorts? Are the brands I sell well known for being the best on the market?

Taking each of these terms I can asses volume over value and determine what is more likely to drive users to my site and complete an action (i.e. a sale). For example, say my site has a page offering a range of padded cycling shorts, although volume is lower for ‘padded cycling shorts’ it makes sense to optimise my page around this term as it fulfills a more direct search query and is more likely to result in better user experience, and hopefully a sale.

Keyword Planner - compare


Keyword Planner is not as proficient as the Keyword Tool and Traffic Estimator but given time, and more data, it will undoubtedly get better.

3. Competitor Research

You can also use Keyword Planner to reverse engineer the research process by using competitor urls to generate keyword ideas.

If you’re unsure of who your competitors are, Google terms you would like to appear for to establish which sites consistently appear in the results. Copy the url of landing page you would like to view related keywords for into the ‘Your landing page field’ and click Get Ideas.

Keyword Planner - Comp. URL
On the ‘Keywords ideas’ tab you’ll see a list of terms related to the page analysed. This is useful for understanding which terms may provide value and should be considered as part of your SEO activity.

Keyword Planner - Comp. Keywords


So, by using the methods above Google Keyword Planner can be extremely useful for SEO when developing your keyword strategy. I hope the above is helpful, do feel free to comment or ask questions!

Latest from the blog