The Google Keyword Planner has been the go-to tool for years if you wanted to find the search volume for specific keywords, and it’s still widely used today. Google Keyword Planner data is intended by Google to allow users to determine how large the potential audience is that can be reached through a particular search query (keyword) before creating an AdWords ad campaign.
By displaying a search volume value Google has of course not only attracted AdWords users but especially search engine optimizers.
Benefits of the Keyword Planner
If someone has meaningful search volume values for many searches, then Google.
It can therefore be assumed that the displayed values represent one of the most extensive search volume sources available on the Internet.
When creating AdWords Search Network campaigns, you can take advantage of the Keyword Planner:
Find ideas for new keywords
You can give Google a lot of information – like your previous keywords, your own landing page, geographic and language targeting, and more.
– And Google calculates a list of search queries (keywords) for which it might be worthwhile to put ads.
Of course, this list can also be used for SEO purposes to find new and interesting keyword ideas.
Help in deciding which keywords you want to tackle
From the moment a list of potentially interesting keywords is put together, it’s always about asking, “Which of those keywords are the right ones for me, and how many people can I use?”.
This is where the search volume ad comes into play, where Google displays statistics on average monthly searches.
It is important to enjoy this data with care!
However, knowing the pitfalls, it is a good decision to decide how strong these values are incorporated into their own decision-making.
Another helpful value is the “competition” for the keywords. Here Google calculates an index value with how much competition can be expected for the keyword: low, medium or strong.
Again, one should be aware that these are suggestions based on a lot of data that, depending on the search query, is sometimes less accurate.
Two other pieces of information that Google shows in the Keyword Planner for possible keywords are “organic impression share” and “average organic position”:
For the impressions, Google calculates a percentage of the number of times your own web page was displayed for any query, divided by all searches that occur for that keyword idea.
The average position looks at the best positions of one’s own webpage for a given keyword, compared to the entries from other webpages for the same keyword.
Both values together should give the website operator a sense of how big the piece of cake search volume can be to get hold of and how good the potential position for that keyword might look.
What costs could be incurred for the ads?
Within the AdWords Keyword Planner, there’s an “Average CPC” column where Google displays a cost-per-click price that could be used for a keyword.
This allows you to set a very rough budget.
Here you can decide quite quickly whether one is willing to pay this amount for a single click (!) On the own advertisement.
Disadvantages of the Keyword Planner
The wealth of data that Google provides through the AdWords Keyword Planner is immense.
However, it is very important to look at the survey methods and pitfalls of these values in order to decide how and to what extent the data should be used.
Pitfalls “Average searches per month”
The values for the displayed search volume are unfortunately not as accurate as one would expect.
Google writes that the average searches per month “[…] for this keyword and similar variants […]” are displayed.
Due to the fact that similar variants can be included, it can happen that the search volume has a much higher value than could be achieved with the actual search query.
Just because Google considers a keyword as “similar”, which has a lot of search volume.
For example, if I am interested in the search volume for “Application Folder”, it is quite possible that the result will also include search queries for “Application Folders”, “Create Application Folder”, “Buy Application Folder” and other similar versions.
This may make it difficult to cover the exact search intent.
Another peculiarity to be aware of is the behavior of the AdWords Keyword Planner to pin the search volume values into specific areas and display only those aggregated areas.
For long-tail keywords, these ranges may be very close – for example, 50 – 70 searches per month – whereas for short-head keywords, these ranges may be from 1,000,000 to 1,250,000 (and more).
All search query values within such a range are then output as rounded values.
Last but not least, there is the question of how many visitors can I reach on a given position (eg position 6 on the first page of search results)?
Here, the most different click probabilities – the percentage of how many visitors clicked on the respective position in the Google results – play a role in different keywords.
Depending on my search query, I can expect 60% of the clicks (of the search volume) on the first position when searching for “Hamburg”.
In a search for “Hotel Hamburg” (which is a possible, “similar variant”), the expected click probability in the first position, however, is just under 25%.
Google offers an answer to this question with the value “average position in the organic search results”, but it also helps to understand which data flows into this evaluation.
Google says, “The average position is calculated by the best average position of your entries on each web search for a particular keyword” and compared to the entries of the competition.
It is therefore an evaluation of searches for the own page already has rankings, but not to an accurate evaluation of the bottom of the desired keyword for later tend to rank (and which may not yet been written).
In the “Competition” column, Google shows whether the expected competition for a specific keyword is low, medium or high.
To do this, look at how many different advertisers bid on this keyword, and compare it to the total bids across all keywords.
Unfortunately Google does not reveal the value ranges for the three possible competition values.
This is a very rough value.
What should I look for in “Share of possible organic impressions”?
Here Google looks at the Google Analytics values for the domain.
Of course, the Google Analytics account needs to be connected to the AdWords account, otherwise Google will not be able to access the data.
Once that’s done, Google will display a percentage of how often Google has shown its own web page when requesting the specific keyword.
What about “average organic position”?
Again, the Google Analytics account must be connected to AdWords for Google to show the values.
And again, you can just as well use analytics to look at the average position of your own website for a particular keyword compared to all the other websites.
What is to be considered in “Average CPC”?
The value given by Google in the line of average CPC should be used with caution for one simple reason: the quality factor of your own AdWords campaign.
The value that Google displays for keywords that have never been run on AdWords campaigns – and for which it can not use data from the account itself – is based on historical values of all accounts that bid on that keyword and “similar variants”.
Here comes the quality factor into play.
Depending on the quality that Google associates with the landing page of the ad – which may well change as the campaign progresses – it may cost more or less than the average CPC value to run your ad.
What is it about “Limited Data”?
At the end of 2016, Google posted a major change in the Keyword Planner,where low-volume AdWords accounts would only see heavily clustered search volume ranges.
For low-spend accounts, there are 7 value ranges: 0, 1 – 100, 100 – 1,000, 1,000 – 10,000, 10,000 – 100,000, 100,000 – 1,000,000, and “more than 1,000,000.”
Unfortunately, since the publication of this change, Google has not made an exact definition of “low spending.”
This makes it harder to know from which AdWords spend you will see “better” data.
Google’s AdWords Keyword Planner can give you a good first impression about the possible search volumes of different keywords.
If you keep the potential pitfalls in mind, you can easily decide how strong your own search strategy should be based on the displayed values, or not.
The whole tool is designed for AdWords and can provide important campaign planning information for this online marketing channel.
It can also be used for SEO, but it should be used wisely.
The keyword Planner can also be used in combination with Google Trends to set the available comparison values in a search volume frame.