How to Use Google Keyword Planner – Avoid Bad Keywords & Wasted Ad Spend

Google Ads live on keywords. And cold cash. 

Your goal is not to mindlessly run a campaign and burn cash for every click.  

Like every business, you want to earn more profit as you run your ads. 

If you want to run a successful Google Ads campaign, you need two things: 

  • Profitable keywords – Your customers will use keywords to search for you on Google.
  • Right budget – This is obvious, but to run ads, you need cash. 

The good news is Google’s Keyword Planner is ready to help you. It has a lot of features that you can use so you’ll maximize your ad spend, cut bad keywords, and drive more sales. 

This tool is designed for pay-per-click advertisers in mind. So you’ll get a lot of benefits when you use this.  

  • Discover new keywords – Aside from the keywords you think will benefit your business, the Keyword Planner will also suggest keywords that are related to your product and services. 
  • See average monthly searches – You can see the number of searches that a specific keyword gets each month. 
  • Plan your budget – Google gives estimates on how much you need to spend for your keyword to show up on searches.

This tool is 100% free. 

If you have a business or you want your business to grow, Google Ads is the best place to put your ads on. 

  • People everywhere are using Google to buy products. And,
  • You have a much-targeted market by using keywords and specific locations for your ads. 

Tutorial Overview

I will go you through a click-by-click tutorial on how to use Google’s Keyword Planner. 

It’s very easy to use. You only need a Google Ads account. And you can already use the Keyword Planner. 

Before we dive into our tutorial, here’s a tip that you should remember. 

Your job is to find keywords that will help you make money. While Google’s keyword planner tool wants to show you everything under the sun. So it’s not a good idea to use everything that Google gives you. 

Set up

So let’s start with our tutorial. 

Log in to your Google Ads account. 

If you don’t have one yet, it’s easy to create. Just go to Google and create a free account. 

Skip the setup process so you can get straight into your dashboard. 

From your overview, click on Tools and Settings. 

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And click on the Keyword planner. 

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Now here, you’re going to have two options.

One, you can use “Discover new keywords”. Two, you can use Search Volume. 

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Search volume is helpful if you’ve already gone through the stuff we’ll go through in our tutorial. 

So, we’ll look for brand new keyword ideas for this tutorial. 

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Seeds

To start our search, we need a couple of seed keywords. 

These are 3-4 specific keywords for our product or service. 

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Here, we’ll do keyword planning for a particular service. 

Let’s say we are a digital marketing agency in Seattle who looks for new pay-per-click clients. We want to do their ad campaigns.  

You can start with 3-5 keywords to start your search. 

Here, we have “Seattle PPC management”, “Best PPC management”, “Best PPC Agency Seattle”, and “Seattle PPC agency”. We’ll just mix up a couple of these. 

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Tip: You can use the chart below to have ideas on what keywords to use. Whether you’re in e-commerce or a service-based business, you can use these formulas to create your seeds for your keyword search. 

Let’s jump back into the interface. 

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You can also do a separate search for a competitor. 

If you know of a competitor, you can copy their sales or product page. Not their whole domain or website name. And Google can give you some keyword ideas. 

You’ll go through the same process. 

Tip: It does not mean that your competitors are running the keywords that Google will show. They’re what Google thinks that fits for a particular page.

You must choose competitors that have a lot of traffic, too.  

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Click on Get Results. 

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But before we dive into keywords, ad groups, and plan overview. 

We have to deal with our dashboard for you to know which you should prioritize or ignore. 

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Location 

At the top, you can see settings. 

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Let’s start with Locations. 

Your locations should be the same as what you want with your actual campaign. 

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Your location setting will depend on the specific places you want to target. 

  • International and the entire world – it’s okay if you won’t have any location settings. 

For specific country or region:

  • Entire countries – You need to put in all the states, provinces, and territories. 
  • Local areas – You need to put in all the cities, neighborhoods, and zip codes. 

You’ll see how important this is when we go to the plan overview. But you don’t want to get too detailed. Because the data will be cut into little pieces. It will matter to you. 

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For language settings, I just leave this alone. 

I prefer to use locations to target the right people. You only need language if it’s critical for your business. 

For a search network, you’ll have to leave this at Google. Though they allow you to use Search partners, you just want data from Google. 

Finally, you can set the dates that you want to see the data from. This won’t affect the keywords you see. But this will affect your planning and the search data that Google gives you. 

This is especially true if you’re into a seasonal business. 

For example, if you’re selling Christmas costumes, you want to see traffic around Christmas. And not in May or June. Unless a lot of people buy this stuff in May. 

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The next part of your dashboard is the actual search term. 

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If you want to modify your search, you can still do it here. 

You can also have the same settings you had when you first set up your search. 

Or you can enter another domain if you want. 

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And don’t forget to save all your keywords before going through your planner. 

Because any changes you make here will reshuffle everything you’ll see. 

So when you want to add keywords, change settings, or add groups; even if you won’t use these groups, you have to save everything. Otherwise, you’ll lose your keywords. 

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Suggestions 

The next part is the Suggestions. 

This is where Google gives you every keyword under the sun. But you don’t need to broaden your search. 

Here, Google suggests the word “Seattle”, but there’s no reason to go after this word. Because it’s an entire city. 

Also, “best internet marketing services” and “best digital marketing services” are too broad. Because digital marketing can be SEO, conversion rate optimization, page building, and tons of other things. And have nothing to do with pay-per-click. 

Getting broader doesn’t mean you’ll get better customers, right? 

If you only have a few keywords for your specific customer base, it’s okay. And that’s where your budget should go. 

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Then, they’ll give you a couple of charts. 

These charts are for all the keywords in the suggestions. But this data isn’t helpful as the data that we’ll get through in later. 

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We have a chart to help you understand search volume traffic throughout the year. 

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You can also see breakdowns by platform, mobile, or desktop. 

You can see if your site is mobile optimized. Or if everyone uses mobile to search for these keywords. 

For this data, it’s 73% desktop. So most people search these keywords using a desktop. 

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Next, will be breakdowns by location. Because I chose the United States, Google gives me specific states. 

If I chose a specific state, then Google will give me a breakdown of areas within that state. 

That’s why you must choose which location you want. Because this will also apply to your plan. 

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Keywords

Let’s talk about the actual keywords. 

What you have to do is filter down to find the keywords that will be the most profitable for you and your products. 

The filter setting will be your best friend. 

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Click on Filter. 

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There are different filter options that you can choose from. But filter by keyword search will be the most helpful. 

So, we’ll use a keyword search. 

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We only have 14 keywords for this example. That’s few and nice. 

If you got hundreds of keywords, you can use an exclusion filter for who, what, when, where, why, free, and how. Because people who include these words in their search does not plan to buy something. 

If you want to use this tool for SEO, awesome, you can use these keywords without the exclusion filters. 

The only thing you might want to do is filter out the keywords you already have in your account or plan. 

If you’re doing multiple searches, you have to use the exclusion filters so you don’t see the same set of keywords over and over again. 

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For columns, there’s not much that you can do here. But you can turn on and off some columns. 

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The only column that I suggest that you play with is the competition column. 

And that is if you want to figure out which keywords you should go after, especially if you have a small budget. And you see that the cost per click on the first page is really high. 

So you want to have a keyword or two that you’ll be able to stretch your budget with. 

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It’s a little advance so we won’t get to that. But it’s something that you can do. 

To do this: 

You add a column. 

Then, you’ll find that the keywords are expensive. But you can still find an opportunity where you can set a smaller budget. 

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You have filtered out all those bad keywords and you have the columns you need. 

Actual Data

Monthly Searches

Now, we can look at our actual data. 

For average monthly searches, there’s a lot of complaints about this. 

As you can see with this particular account, we can see the exact numbers. But if it’s your first time doing this, you’ll see ranges instead of exact numbers. 

The reason is Google is tired of their platform being abused. They only want to give this data to people who spends money with them. Because SEO people just want to use this to help rank their sites and blog posts. And don’t have plans to give Google any money. 

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Buyer 

Even if you can’t see the search volume, what’s important is you find buyer keywords. 

So don’t worry if you only see ranges and you don’t see enough traffic. It doesn’t matter. Even if you only get one or two clicks on a keyword. 

Though a keyword only gets 30 searches a month. But it’s a buyer. They’re the person who you want to go after. 

Competition

The next column we have is the competition. 

Here, Google tells you how competitive it is to go after a particular keyword. 

But our only concern is if a keyword represents a buyer. 

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The last column shows the estimated cost per click. But we can ignore this for now. Because we will use the planning tools to figure out what your average cost per click should be. 

The column here shows the general cost per click on the first page. 

I hope you find this useful so you can manipulate your data to make this work for you. 

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Keyword Plan 

Now, you can add your keywords to your plan. And I’ll show you how you can forecast the cost per click for each keyword. 

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We have to look for keywords that represent someone ready to make a purchase. In short, keywords that buyers use. 

We’ve eliminated the what, when, where, how, and free words in our keywords. Because people who use these keywords are not ready to buy yet. And most probably are not planning to buy. 

As an example, let’s add the keywords at the bottom three. These are “PPC agency Seattle”, “company Seattle”, and “management company Seattle”. These keywords have a competition level of medium, low, and nothing, respectively. 

These are very low-traffic keywords. 

For this example, we’ll go for a phrase instead of broad. 

Once we select them, a dialogue box will pop up at the top. 

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We’ll add these keywords to a plan or an existing campaign. 

Tip: I recommend adding your keywords to a plan. Because when you add them to an existing campaign, they immediately go live. And there’s a lot of mess and headache that can happen. 

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We can do two things here: 

  • Create a new ad group in our plan. 
  • Select an ad group we’ve already made. 
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If you already have ad groups saved in your plan, you’ll find them here. Then, you’ll add your new keywords here. 

For our example, we’ll create a new ad group “PPC Seattle”. 

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Then, we can choose what match type we want here. 

  • For PPC agency Seattle – phrase and exact match type. 
  • For PPC company Seattle and PPC management company Seattle – all three match types. 

You will be able to see if you’ll get a bunch of bad clicks with the bottom two keywords using the broad match. 

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Now, let’s add the keywords to our plan. 

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You’ll see the account status that the keywords are in our plan already. 

Next, let’s click on View Forecast or Keywords. 

You can see that the projected costs will be for these specific keywords given our target location and match types. 

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Negative keywords

But before we do that, I’ll show you how to add negative keywords. Because this is very important. 

For example, we’ve filtered out the keywords with who, what, when, where, why, how, and free. Then, we changed the filters to show those with phrases in them. 

Then, you’ll select the keywords that represent someone who doesn’t plan to buy. 

  • They just want to educate themselves. 
  • They look for how to do it.
  • They look for general information. 
  • They’re not ready to whip out their credit cards and do business with you. 

So you’ll select that keyword. 

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For this tutorial, we will choose the “best PPC advertising company”.  We know that this keyword is not good. 

People who use these keywords are terrible buyers. They don’t like to buy. 

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We’ll click this keyword. And classify as negative keyword, broad, exact, or phrase match. 

So when someone types in these keywords, your campaign won’t show up to them. 

Add them to your plan. And you’ll see all your negative keywords in yor plan. 

Then, we can go to the Plan section. 

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Plan selection 

We’ll click on Keywords to see the projections for the specific keywords that we’ve chosen. 

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We got zero. But this isn’t a bad thing. Because we’ll go through how to change this data. 

We’ll fix this so numbers will show up here. 

Tip: Don’t freak out when you got this result. It only means you got specific keywords. 

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Google likes to give data on broad stuff. They don’t like to give away data on juicy, specific keywords as we have. 

What you see here are estimates for the next 30 days. 

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If you want to change the time frame you can click on Next Month. 

Click on the month up at the top. And change your estimated timeframes. 

Tip: I just leave the timeframe at a 30-day window. This helps me to understand how much I’d have to spend over each month to achieve the results that are in the graph. 

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To get your data, you can click on the graph. 

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 You’ll see there’s no data for these particular metrics. 

Let’s click on max CPC. 

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Let’s change the amount to $45. But we still get no data. 

We can say that these keywords are expensive. 

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The next thing we’ll do is assume that the search volume for these keywords is too low. 

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Now, we’ll click on the blue plus button. C:\Users\lenovo\Documents\ACT Marketing\Blog\36 M146\M146 JPEG Graphics\Copy of M146 - Keyword Planner Tutorial (58).jpg

And add a different match type version of the keyword. 

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Here I have a phrase match. But I’ll change this to a broad match. 

These were very low traffic. But they’re specific to our offer. And we want specific keywords. 

Click on Save. 

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It still gives us no data even though it’s $45 max already. 

I use this example because I want to show you that it’s okay. 

If this happens, it’s a good thing. It means that you have specific keywords. And Google has data that it doesn’t want to share with you. 

The last thing you can assume is these are low-traffic keywords. But they do represent buyers. 

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For us to get data, we’ll add in general keywords. 

Click on Save. 

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Click on the blue plus button. 

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Add keywords to your plan. 

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Now, we have results. 

Next, we’ll go through these. But I won’t use the three keywords that I added. Because they’re too broad. 

However, we need data to show you how this works. 

We need to think about our budget. Because our impressions and clicks will change based on how much we can afford to spend per click. Or how much we can spend in a month’s time. 

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So, let’s change $45 to $12. Then, let’s save our changes. 

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You can see that our budget changed from $3,000 down to $410. 

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Note: When you’re doing this in the ad group section, this only represent one ad group. 

You have to keep in mind the following: 

  • How much can you afford to spend over the first couple of months?
  • You need to make sure you don’t go after very expensive keywords. 
  •  If all your keywords are expensive, you have to decide on: 
  • Not having as many campaigns 
  • Go after 2-3 keywords per month. 

You need to get statistically significant. And it’s very important. 

If you only get 53 clicks over 30 days, it’ll be hard to optimize your ads, landing pages, and websites for conversions. 

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Now, we’ll go to the plan overview. 

You’ll see it’s the same information.

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If you scroll down, you’ll see the device data and location data for the specific keywords that we’ve chosen. 

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This will be more helpful compared to the first set of charts we went over. 

Click on Group ideas. 

This feature will help you save a lot of time, especially if you have a lot of keywords. 

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Google will put a bunch of keywords into predefined ad groups. 

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Google will sort and put things together into groups. So you can save time by using the suggestions that Google will give you. 

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Tip: I recommend you go through each keyword and make sure they represent a buyer. 

Let’s say PPC company.

We like all of these keywords. Two of these keywords are already in our plan. 

Let’s select the ad group, then add the add group and all the keywords in our plan. 

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Then, we’ll go through the planning and keywords features so we can figure out how much our budget will be to go after the keywords we want. 

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And we’re done on how to use the Google Ads Keyword Planner.

Conclusion 

Google’s Keyword Planner is a tool that every marketer should use. 

It’s not only helpful in getting on ideas about the keywords you use. But especially on the budget that you need to have to run your ads using your keywords. 

In planning for keywords, make sure that you filter the tire-kicker keywords such as who, what, when, where, how, and free. And consider all negative keywords, too. 

You have to go for buyer keywords, the ones that represent potential customers. 

Your success in the PPC campaign is a balance between keywords and budget. Plus your judgment on how to make your campaigns run for optimum profit. 

Of course, you have to get enough clicks and impressions to optimize your campaigns. 

And until the next, keep building the business you love.

Jason Whaling
 

Jason Whaling is an online marketing expert, consultant, author, and a lifelong entrepreneur. Combining a mix of dynamic business strategy, consumer psychology, and social media marketing, Jason works with people like you to build their personal brands and business.