Using Google Keyword Planner For SEO Keyword Research

Google Keyword Planner can be an awesome keyword research tool in SEO, even if it was designed for AdWords.

It gives you keyword suggestions, trends, filters to help narrow down your selection, and each keyword’s # of monthly searches which indicates competition in organic results.

But I still like to start my keyword research with Google Autocomplete since as you see in the photo, it can give you a very simple list of good keywords. THEN I move to Google Keyword Planner to find phrases which didn’t appear in Autocomplete. Using both tools allows you to create a more robust keyword list and prevents you from missing anything.

Google autocomplete - plurals

That’s my spiel on Autocomplete and you can read this article for more Google Autocomplete tricks like the “fill in the blank” trick. Now let’s dive into Google Keyword Planner. You will need to sign up for a Google AdWords account to use Keyword Planner.


1. Start With A Broad Keyword

Google keyword planner search

Broad phrases give you a larger number of keyword suggestions. Then hit “Get Ideas”…

Google keyword planner interface

This pretty much sums up the gist of it.

Whatever keyword you search you will see it’s # of monthly searches. Then look below to find more keyword suggestions, so for example, since “Chicago Newborn Photographer” did not show up in Autocomplete but does show in Keyword Planner – I can now add it to my keyword list. You want to scroll the entire list to make sure you’re not missing any good phrases.


Use Filters To Narrow Down Your Selection

Once you’re done scrolling through the list, play with the filters to see if you can find other keywords you missed. I like to use the “include” filter


Use the filters to target geographic locations, include or exclude certain words, and specify a range of monthly searches (see next step to learn how many monthly searches your site should have). Go ahead and click “Get Ideas” and review the results. If you don’t see a lot of keywords you can always try tweaking the filters or starting with an even broader phrase.

Google keyword planner search


2. Learn How Many Searches Your Keywords Should Have

The higher your domain authority, the more monthly searches your keywords can have. You can check your domain authority by running your site through Open Site Explorer.

Domain authority - open site explorer

Now see this chart I borrowed from Orbit Media’s keyword research guide

Using domain authority to research keywords in google keyword tool


4. Ignore The Competition And CPC Column

Unlike Autocomplete, Keyword Planner also tells you a debatably accurate number of monthly searches for each phrase. And depending on the website’s domain authority (it’s ability to rank for competitive phrases) it clues you in on what keywords can be eliminated since they have too many monthly searches, indicating higher competition. These are the tips I will cover in my tutorial.

These are for AdWords, not SEO. While they can be used as an indicator on whether a keyword is too competitive, it definitely is NOT the best indicator in SEO.

Better keyword competition indicators in SEO are:

  • # of monthly searches
  • Whether Google’s search results include authority websites (eg. Amazon)
  • Whether Google’s search results include content that covers the topic extensively
  • Your website’s domain authority (higher authority = better chance of ranking)

5. Don’t Choose The Same Keyword Twice

6. Create Your Keyword List


2. Find Keywords People are Searching in Google

Now that you know how competitive your keywords should be, go to Google Keyword Tool and type in a broad phrase where it says “word or phrase.”

Before you hit “search” and look through the list, here’s a few things to consider when choosing keywords:

  • Each page on your website should only target 1 primary keyword
  • Always picture yourself as the searcher and think about what information they might be looking for
  • The content on a page should directly reflect it’s primary keyword, and vice versa
  • If a page’s content does not reflect a keyword, add a new page to your site or chose a new keyword
  • Pages can target multiple keywords if the keywords are similar enough
  • Your keywords can include a geographic location (eg. Chicago Patent Attorney)


Now hit search! When looking through the list, make sure you’re looking at the “Keyword ideas” tab and not “Ad group ideas (beta).”


3. Use Keyword Filters

It’s time to narrow down the results using the filters in Google Keyword Tool. Obviously the point is to setup filters that only show you the most relevant search terms according to your criteria.

Start by setting up a filter to only show keywords within your competition as described in step 1. To do this, click “Advanced Options and Filters” just above the search button on the main page. Create a filter that looks like this (follow the chart in step 1 to see what number you should put in):

How to use google keyword tool filters

There are other filters too. If you want to include or exclude specific words in your search term, you’ll see this section on the left of your screen in Google Keyword Tool. And now that you know how to use Google Keyword Tool, let’s take a look further into your competition.


4. Know Your Competition in Google

Just by searching a keyword in Google, you find out more about your competition. If larger websites like rank in the top results, you probably want to chose a different keyword. This is especially true if a large website is clearly targeting that keyword. A good indication of this is if that website uses an exact keyword match in their title tag:


How to research keywords in google

There’s no way I want to compete with these guys!


5. Finalize 1 Keyword Per Page

Yes, just one. That’s why it’s called your targeted keyword. Consider adding new pages and blog posts to your website if you want to target more.

Having a website with only a few pages also limits the amount of SEO you can do. This is because a website with 10 pages doesn’t have a lot of content in the eyes of search engines. It basically says you’re not providing your audience with enough useful information. That’s what a blog is good for.

Once you’ve finalized a few terms in Google Keyword Tool, try using them throughout your website.


If you enjoyed my article, please share it with a friend who might like it too. I would really appreciate that.



About Tom Dupuis

Tom Dupuis writes WordPress speed and SEO tutorials out of his apartment in Denver, Colorado. In his spare time, he plays Rocket League and watches murder documentaries. Read his bio to learn 50 random and disturbing things about him.

2 thoughts on “Using Google Keyword Planner For SEO Keyword Research

  1. I have been learning keyword research for last few months. I have seen hundreds of youtube videos, read dozens of articles and gone through some forums to understand every single bit of it. And now I wish to believe my journey of “learning keyword research” ends up here whit your amazing article.
    So, it’s time to jump on to work now.

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