How To Use Google’s New Keyword Planner For Quick And Easy Keyword Research

With plenty of advance warning from Google, Keyword Planner has now finally replaced their Keyword Tool. If you’re like me, you probably used Keyword Tool quite a bit to do some of your keyword research for blog posts, articles, book topics, and other SEO for your business. Because I absolutely LOVE keyword research and am a bit OCD about it, I like to do “layers” of keyword research for anything I write. This is all about living by one of my writing principles which is to always write with a purpose. I never aimlessly write anything and neither should you. Your time is precious and every minute counts.

My first layer of keyword research always begins with Google’s Keyword Tool (now Keyword Planner) primarily because at first I only want to identify a variety of keyword phrases related to my topic AND I want to isolate those phrases which have decent amounts of traffic (at least over 3,000 monthly views). I’ll do my deeper research on competition for these phrases using a more robust keyword tool like the LongTailPro Keyword Research Tool. For what I want to do first though, Keyword planner will help me do it rather quickly.

1. You Need An Adwords Account To Login to Keyword Planner.

With the old version, you use to be able to directly access the tool and use a CAPTCHA if you weren’t logged into Adwords to prove that you were a human being. That is no longer the case. Everyone has to log in. Don’t worry if you don’t have an Adwords account. There is no cost to open one and there is no requirement for you to start making an ad. If you already have a Gmail address, use Google analytics or Adsense then you already have a Google account and all you need to do is log into that account and sign up for Adwords. If you don’t use any Google products, you can easily just sign up for a free account in Adwords.

Once you login you’ll see the main Google Adwords dashboard asking you to create your first ad. You will instead click on the Tools and Analysis Tab and in the dropdown menu you will see the option for keyword planner.

keyword planner

2. Search For Keywords

Next you’ll be asked what you want to do and so next you’ll want to select search for keyword and ad group ideas.

keyword ideas

3. Customize Your Search

Next is the area where you add your primary keyword or keyword phrase and set up your filter options. For example, if you want to do keyword research on clean energy just type clean energy into the first box (where the arrow is pointing).

Most of the default options are fine for a basic search but you may want to play around with some of the targeting or customized features. For instance, I add the feature of making sure that my results only show results for phrases that get at least 3,000 searches a month. Just click on keyword filters and add the number in the average monthly search box.

keyword phrases

4. Keyword Planner Uses Exact Match By Default

In the old version, you had to select whether you wanted to search for your keywords using broad, phrase, or exact match– but it used “broad match” by default. That proved to be disastrous for a whole lot of people, because using a broad search gives you skewed “inflated” results. You may think 10,000 people search for your term every month when if you did an exact search for the term you would find that actually only 2,000 people do. So one thing that the new keyword planner has gotten right is making sure that “exact match” is the default search filter. So you won’t see that option in the filter area like you use to. I love this change!

5. Get Your Keyword Results

By default the planner takes you to ad group ideas first, but we don’t really want to use that for our research purposes, so just click on the next tab named “keyword ideas”. It’s here where you’ll see average monthly searches, rate of competition (for ads), and average cost per click of an ad for that keyword. Below is how Google describes what the data in each column means.

keyword statistics

6. Save Your Keywords

If you want to save your keywords which I highly recommend so that you have an easy go-to list when doing your long tail research, it’s easy to do by simply clicking on the download ideas tab and it will save in Excel CSV format.

download google keywords

Tada! The End. Simple wasn’t it? If you have any questions or tips to share about the new version of Google’s Keyword Planner keyword tool then feel free to add your two cents in the comment section below and on Facebook and Twitter.

Google Keyword Planner Documentation:
Long Tail Keyword Tool: LongTail Pro



What I Learned About Writing & Sharing Content In 2012 (Part 1)

I’m going to take some time to share with you what I’ve learned about writing and sharing content this year.

When a year winds down, I like to take a look at what the big takeaway or area of growth was for entrepreneurs and marketers. This year I think it’s pretty clear that small business owners have realized not only the importance but the necessity of using content to market their businesses in a way that engages people and inspires them to share it.

The big kahunas have figured this out and have really stepped up their games this year. For instance, let’s take a look at Coke’s home page. Coke makes several attempts to engage visitors with content. They want you to read their @DocPemberton tweets over on Twitter, watch fun YouTube videos of drinking/sharing Coke, or read some of their updates over on Facebook where they share lots of interesting Coke related photos and fun facts.

painless content marketing coke

What I Learned About Keyword Research In 2012

The first element of making sure that your ideal clients and customers read your content is to make sure that you speak their language using terms that they search for on the web. The only way to make sure that you get this right is to do the research. There’s no way around this. If you don’t do this, you will be shooting in the dark and next thing you know a year has gone nothing has changed in your business.

Before Google Panda and Penguin, it use to be that you could create a piece of content, optimize it for the web, and if you followed a few basic SEO principles  Google would rank you highly and send you free traffic. This year some of that changed and it affected many, many sites across the web.

One of the huge things that I learned this year behind this is that it’s much more important to create a website and its content around one central theme versus spending too much time focusing on optimizing each individual piece of content. What I mean by this is that you have to get even more niche focused than before so that search engines as well as potential customers and clients recognize you as the authority in ONE specific topic that you write about. This is going to make it much easier to do your keyword research going forward.

FIRST – For example if you write about blogging, you need to get really specific about what aspect of blogging you focus on such as: making money with a blog, building a blog from scratch, WordPress blogging, Blogger blogging, etc. Get really specific and create content around only one of those topics.

SECOND – Build a list of 5 to 10 keywords around that topic only. This will take you literally about fifteen minutes if you use a robust keyword research tool (like my favs Market Samurai or SEMRush) or a bit longer if you do it old school using Google’s Adwords Keyword Tool.

THIRD – Use these keywords and related keywords (you can find related keywords when you do your search using any keyword tool) in your titles, first paragraphs, and sprinkled naturally throughout your articles.

FOURTH – Also use the keywords as anchor text when backlinking to your site BUT be sure not to use exact matches all of the time. Enclose some of your keyword phrases with other words. For example, if your keyword is “blogging basics” be sure to use longer and varied anchor text such as “blogging basics for coaches” or “easy blogging basics”. The search engines frown upon a lot of exact term anchor text, which is why a lot of sites lost many of their rankings when the Panda, Penguin and Exact Domain Match updates hit.

FIFTH – Don’t over think your keyword research. Ultimately you need to focus on creating content that your readers will read and share!

Here are a few additional articles I wrote in 2012 that discuss keyword research:

Five Reasons Why I Won’t Read Your Blog

How My Blog Traffic Increased By 33%

My Keyword Research SEMRush Review & Tutorial

Keyword Research: SEMRush Review & Tutorial

How To Use SEMRush To Conduct Keyword Research

At the foundation of every piece of carefully written content on the web is research. To be more precise, keyword research. If you are a member of my training program Articology or if you’ve followed me for a while via my newsletter, you know that I talk about keyword research quite a bit and actually offer it as a premium service in my business. It’s just that important. I do it everyday.

In previous trainings, I have talked about how to conduct keyword research using free tools as well as Wordtracker and Market Samurai, but today I want to talk about a new tool that I am using called SEMRush which is a web based keyword research and analytic tool. I am LOVING this tool for a few reasons.

FIRST – I really do prefer a web based tool because I can use it anywhere and it’s not a drain on any of my computer’s resources. This is a really robust one.

SECOND – It’s really easy to use because in one click you get a variety of search results that are pretty simple to interpret because of the explanations that SEMRush provides along the way (I’ll explain more about that later).

THIRD – There is a paid and free option enabling users at any stage in their business to use the tool and reap the rewards of major keyword research.

SEMRush keyword tool

As a little background, I became familiar with SEMRush because this tool was founded by the creators of the plugin for Firefox and Safari that so many people use called SEOQuake — so I knew that they were quite familiar with keyword analytics and looked forward to seeing what their tool had to offer. As with any new tool that I test, I am doing so for myself of course but even more importantly for my community.


SEMRush offers both free and paid research options. For our purposes, you can do everything you need to do with a free account but as with any service will benefit from more options and more query options with the paid (pro) option.

First you can start your search and get basic keyword information by typing your keyword in the top bar choosing to get either Google or Bing results. Go with the Google results as they dominate the search results.


You will get basic Google trend information, search volume, and the cost per click for the keyword using Adwords. If you don’t know what a specific term means, you can hover over the ? image and get a brief description. This is a great feature for the new user.

semrush review


The second part of your results will show something called a phrase match report. In this particular search, I researched the term “keywords” and this report includes the keyword phrases that Google found relevant to my original search term. This information opens up my options for what terms I may want to also try and rank for.

The two most important areas you need to pay attention to are the Volume numbers and the Results numbers. Volume means how many monthly searches are conducted for this keyword and Results means the number of search results (pages) that Google returned for this search term.

*So one of your goals when making a decision about what keyword is a good one is finding one that has HIGH search volume and LOW results.

If you like one of the phrase matches, feel free to click on that particular keyword to drill down your search results even further.

keyword research


The next sections of your research will show related keywords. This again is to option up options for me and shows me a variety of “synonyms” or other terms that Google believes are related to my original search term. Again you are looking for terms that make sense to your research, have high volume, and low page results.

Like with keyword phrase matches above, you can click on a particular keyword to drill down your search results even further in the related keywords section.

semrush keyword tool


This section of your report shows the top 20 results that appeared in a Google search for that term. So basically, who your competition is for that search term, which is very important to know. For example, look at my results below. Some of the websites that I’d have to compete with for the search term “keywords” are heavy hitters such as Google, Wikipedia, and Wordtracker. So chances are, I’m not going to rank well for that term. So that let me knows right off the bat, that I should look at other options.

search engine marketing tool


In conclusion, as someone who conducts keyword research on a daily basis, SEMRush is a tool that I will not only use myself but one that I feel very comfortable recommending to my community regardless of what stage you’re at in your business and keyword research experience.

Feel free to give it a whirl at: SEMRush Free Trial

Then make sure to come back to this page as I plan on digging in a little deeper on how to conduct keyword research step by step. I will post those new tutorials as I create them. Until then, feel free to ask me any questions about SEMRush or keyword research in general over on Facebook.