Exact keyword matching domains work these days

How to use the Google Keyword Planner (instructions)

Want more traffic from Google? Then the first thing you need to do is do keyword research to understand what people are actually looking for.

Fortunately, Google has a free keyword research tool that allows you to do just that: Google Keyword Planner (formerly the Google Keyword Tool).

Google Keyword Planner received a bad image, especially since Google removed the ability to see accurate monthly search volumes. Now they only show a vague range.

Monthly search volume for “best protein powder” in the Google Keyword Planner

You can get this back, but you'll need to run an AdWords campaign. That costs money.

But don't let that put you off. Google Keyword Planner is an incredibly powerful tool and has some clear advantages. Last but not least, the fact that it suggests keyword ideas that cannot be found anywhere else. Trust me I checked it out.

The problem? Most SEOs have no idea how to get the most out of this tool.

In this post, I'll show you how to get serious SEO value from Google Keyword Planner. Who knows? There may even be a couple of hacks to restore accurate search volumes. ... free of charge. 😉

Let's start with the basics.

How to (for free) access the Google Keyword Planner receives

Google Keyword Planner is too 100% free usable. You don't have to spend a dime on AdWords ads to get access. All you need is a Google account.

But here's what sometimes happens when trying to access the tool:

You will be made aware of the need to set up a new ads campaign.

Google is so aggressive with this that it can seem like there is no way to access the tool without giving in some cash first. Well I have good news:

You can on the tool WITHOUTaccess the placement of an AdWords ad. You just have to jump through a couple of hoops.

To start, go here. Click on “Go to Keyword Planner”.

To start, go here. Click "Go to Keyword Planner."

Well here is the important part:

If you see the “What is your main target?” Screen, do not choose any of the three options. Instead, click on the little link "Experienced with Google Ads?" below.


This is another trick in the Google Keyword Planner: Google only shows the link in certain browser widths.

If you don't see the link, try making the browser window wider.

As incredible as that sounds, the link should appear.

On the next screen, click the “Create an account without a campaign” link.

Click the "Submit" button on the next page. (Don't worry; Google won't ask for credit card information.)

You should then see this screen:

Click the “Search your account” link.

Then click on the “Tools” link in the menu bar and click on “Switch to expert mode”.

Follow the prompt to confirm the change.

Lastly, click the "Tools" link in the menu again, and you should see a link to the Keyword Planner.

You have access now! There's no need to enter billing information or run an AdWords ad.

Now let's learn how to deal with it.

How to use the Google Keyword Planner

Google Keyword Planner gives you two ways to get started, namely:

  1. Discover new keywords: Get keyword ideas that can help you reach people who are interested in your product or service;
  2. Get search volume and forecasts: Find out about the search volume and other historical metrics of your keywords as well as forecasts of how they could develop in the future.

Both options lead you to the Keyword plan, but what you see varies slightly depending on your choice. These are not two separate stand-alone tools.

Let's take a closer look at each starting point.

"Discover new keywords"

Start here.

According to Google's instructions, all you need to do is “enter words, phrases, or a URL for your business”. Google will then come up with some keyword suggestions.

Here are the suggestions for "SEO":

There are a total of 1,106 keyword ideas.

For each suggestion, you will then see:

  • Average monthly searches;
  • Competition;
  • Bid at the top of the page (low area);
  • Start of bid (high range)

But you are not limited to single words; Phrases work too. And you can enter up to ten seed keywords / phrases at the same time.

There is also the option of using a URL or website as a seed.

Here's another trick: you can enter up to ten keywords and a url.

But whatever you do, Google will never show you more than a few thousand keyword suggestions.

Even when I entered a maximum of ten seed keywords and a URL, I still only got 4,715 suggestions.

ntered a maximum of ten seed keywords and a URL, I still only got 4,715 suggestions.

That's pretty little compared to other keyword research tools.

Ahrefs Keywords Explorer, for example, brings you 484,282 Suggestions based on the same keywords ...

… This is 102x more than what the Keyword Planner gives us.

"Get search volume and forecasts"

Do you already have a list of keywords you want to see metrics for? Start here. Just paste them in, hit Get Started, and you'll get to the section Forecasts.

There are no keyword suggestions here. It shows how many clicks and impressions you can expect if you decide to run ads for your selected keywords on Google AdWords in the next 30 days. It also shows the estimated cost, CTR and CPC.

Most of this data is clearly aimed at AdWords advertisers. But here's a quick trick:

Go to the tab "Previous measured values”And you will see an average search volume of 12 months for your keywords. These are the same areas you see when you start with the Find New Keywords option.

You don't see the added value in such areas?

Read on. You never know, maybe I have a trick up my sleeve to unlock exact search volumes. 😉

7 Google Keyword Planner Hacks (That Most SEOs Don't Know About)

Here's what happened when I asked my Facebook friends about their best Google Keyword Planner hacks and tips:

(Translation: I'll give you my secret tip on not using GKP. I know it sounds so simple, but it works great!)

(Translation: I haven't used this for years)

So I went deeper to understand why that is.

(Translation: because they stopped giving exact results - and I figured out how to get those back)

A good point. But Google Keyword Planner has a lot more to offer than search volume.

Here are 7 hacks to help you get the most out of it, starting with the one you've all been waiting for.

1. Unlock EXACT search volumes

Google's reluctance to show accurate search volumes is one of the most frustrating things about Keyword Planner. That's why many SEOs no longer use the tool at all.

For example, if you look at these two keywords - both have a search volume range of 10K-100K:

But if we look at these two in the Ahrefs Keywords Explorer, we see the relationship between the two search volumes much more precisely.

Here are two ways to get exact numbers ... all for free.

Method # 1: Look at the estimated impressions for max.CPC

Start by adding a few keywords to your plan. To do this, manually enter a list of keywords in the tool “Get search volumes and metrics”.

Alternatively, you can check some keywords in the Keyword Ideas view and add them to your plan. Make sure you select the "exact match" option when prompted.

Returns to view Keywords back. You should see a box at the top that looks something like this:

Press the drop-down list and make sure the max. CPC is set as high as possible. To do this, simply click on the right-hand side of the graphic:

Now pay attention to the column "Impressions”. This tells you how many impressions your ad would get over the next month if you ran it for those specific keywords.

Since you've set the maximum CPC so high, these impressions should be pretty close to the actual monthly search volume for that keyword.

Let's take a look at the Ahrefs Keywords Explorer to see how good the numbers are.

Not that far away at all. 😉

IMPORTANT: This is a very crude way of measuring search volume. It is by no means final.

Method # 2. Install Keywords Everywhere

Keywords Everywhere is a free Chorme extension that adds search volume and CPC to the websites you are already using: Google, YouTube, Amazon, etc.

This is what it looks like in use:

But here is something that lots People Don't Know: It also brings search volume to the Google Keyword Planner.

Do not you believe me? Look at it:

Cool right? The problem is that there is no easy way to export this data. But with a little XPath code and the Scraper Chrome extension is it possible.

Whichever “hack” you prefer, I recommend that you only use the numbers as a guide. To find out why, check out Tim [Soulo's] two articles below.

2. Find keyword ideas for more than ten terms at once

Here's what happens when you try to add more than ten seed keywords in Google Keyword Planner:

"No stairway, denied."

But there is a way around that. Just do one at a time. Then add these to your plan by clicking the check box at the top of the list, choosing the “select all XXX” option and choosing “add to plan”.

Let's do that for the 743 based on the keyword “SEO”.

And then you repeat for suggestions based on ten other keywords (for a total of eleven seed keywords).

If we are now under Keywords Going to the Historical Metrics tab, we see ALL the keywords we just added. And the best part is that the list was automatically removed so there are no recurring keywords.

By default, they are displayed in alphabetical order. But you can sort by search volume, competition, whatever you want.

3. Steal keyword ideas from your competitors

Google Keyword Planner can generate keyword suggestions from a URL.

Do you see what i do with it? You can spy on your competitors and steal their keywords. Just take one of their urls, paste it in, and select “Entire Site” from the drop-down list.

2,274 keyword suggestions.

If you see a lot of keywords related to the competing brand like we do here, use the filter to exclude them.

Filter> keyword text> brand name

Delete and repeat for multiple competitors to get an endless stream of new keyword ideas.

Are you looking for keyword ideas for a specific page or blog post? Instead, enable “This Page Only”.

Let's do that for a competing guide to Google Keyword Planner. (I know how meta!)

652 results.

There are some nice ideas in there too. I think I'll sprinkle a few of these in this guide - see if you can find them 😉

4. Find out the questions people are asking

Knowing what questions your audience is asking can be very useful in generating content ideas. This is probably why free keyword research tools like Answer The Public are so popular.

However, it is not necessary to use a separate tool for this. With a little hacking, you can do this in the Keyword Planner.

Filter> Keyword text> contains> enter one of the following question words: who, what, why, when, where, how (or who, what, why, when, where, how).

Repeat the process for the other five assumptions. It should look like this when you're done:

Result: 211 Questions-suggestions

There are some great content ideas, such as:

  • What is link building;
  • What is Search Engine Optimization;
  • What is the best SEO tool;
  • etc.

How about 28,848?

The Ahrefs Keywords Explorer finds just as many for the main keyword “SEO.”

It should be noted that this all also have exact search volumes. 😉

Do this process with other seed keywords as well to create a BIG list of question-based queries.

You can add the filtered results to the plan every time. You can even create an ad group specifically for these terms.

This makes it easier to filter these terms in Excel / Google Sheets when you export the plan.

5. Find lucrative keywords by looking at the suggested bids

Keyword suggestions are all well and good, but how do you know which ones are valuable to your business?

You could search through them all manually, but that's no fun, especially when you have hundreds or thousands of keyword ideas.

My recommendation? Use the column “Top placement bid (high reach)”.

Here is Google’s definition:

“Top of page bid (high range)” shows the higher reach of what advertisers have paid in the past for the top of page bid for a keyword, based on your location and the settings of the search network. The average CPC of your keywords can vary.

I know what you're thinking:

Man, it sounds like it's for AdWords ... how is that supposed to help with SEO?

Very easily. When people are ready to bid a lot on that keyword, it needs to be converted into sales. And when it comes to converting unplanned Google traffic into sales or leads, it is probably worth following and trying to rank.

To sort by this column, simply click on the column heading. Make sure it's sorted high to low as that way the most lucrative keywords will come to the top.

In nine out of ten cases, the keyword with a commercial background is discovered immediately.

Are you thinking of targeting any of these keywords? Never forget to check beforehand which companies advertise here.

You can do this by Googling the term and looking at the ads.

Does he sell the same products or services as you? Then it's probably a good keyword.

Oh, and here's a bonus tip:

Sort this column in ascending order to find informative search terms. These are often great blog post topics.

6. Know keyword volume for local regions…. up to city level

Most keyword research tools are unable to tell you how many people are searching for a term in certain states, cities, and other localized areas. They only show search volumes for the entire country.

Such volumes are somewhat useless for local SEO.

Let's say you are a plumber. With the help of the impressions → search volumes hack (# 1) we can see that the term “plumber” will receive an estimated ~ 286K impressions in the next 30 days.

But plumbers don't work all over the country. That would be impossible.

The great thing about Google Keyword Planner is that you can actually see the estimated impressions for a lot more local areas. Also for certain cities.

Let's just start typing a location into the location filter above. Let's try Los Angeles (city).

Now we see that “plumber” has just ~ 12K monthly impressions. Pretty neat, right?

Now we see that “Plumber” only has ~ 12K monthly impressions. Pretty neat, right?

Just add a keyword (or many) to your plan - I'll go for “Hendersons Relish”.

Now switch to the Plan Overview, select “All Locations” in the location filter and scroll down to the Locations field. You will see a list of the most important countries from which the keyword is searched.

You can see that for “hendersons relish” 94.5% of all impressions come from Great Britain. No wonder, because it's a British spice.

But you can go deeper.Knowing that most searches come from the UK, we can use UK as a location in the Location filter establish. Now you can see more localized areas in the Locations box.

93.1% of all searches take place in England. Let's use the drop-down menu and narrow it down further ... to the districts.

17.1% in South Yorkshire, but also 8.7% in London - seems to be popular among Londoners too (for some reason).

Now let's look at the cities.

8% in Sheffield. Again, hardly surprising - that's where it's made. 🙂

You can also use this feature to find out who you should be creating content for.

For example, 3.9% of all searches for “luxury cars” come from the city of Los Angeles.

If you run a luxury car rental company, it might be worth creating content that would appeal to the Los Angeles people ... even if it wasn't entirely car-related. This would be a great way to get on the prospect's list of interests.

Good idea? The people of Rentalcars.com seem to believe that.

Note. I have no connection to rentalcars.com. It's just an example.

Recommended reading: Local SEO: A Simple (But Complete) Guide

7.Learn what devices people are using (and which ones to optimize for)

People use many types of devices to surf the Internet these days, namely smartphones, laptops, and tablets. Each of them have very different screen sizes, which means that it is difficult to optimize your website perfectly for everyone.

To illustrate this, here is a section with the Free Keyword Research Tools Post on the desktop ...

... and on a mobile device:

While the text is fully legible, some of the numbers on the screenshot are quite difficult to read on a small screen size. This does not lead to an optimal user experience.

But here's the thing: I know that most of the people reading this document will be doing it on the desktop.

How? I checked the Google Keyword Planner.

To do this, add a keyword to your plan and go into the Plan Overview. Check out the section Devices on, namely the impression bar. If you move the mouse over it, you will see the percentage of the Impressions come from each device category.

You can see that for the keyword "free keyword research tools", 92% of the impressions are from large-screen computing devices.

Therefore, it makes perfect sense to put the desktop user experience above all others.

For some keywords it will be the other way around. Take, for example, “best restaurants near me”.

91.4% of all impressions come from mobile devices.

That makes sense. People who googling this are most likely just looking for a good restaurant for lunch / dinner while out and about.


Google Keyword Planner is clearly a powerful tool. I recommend incorporating it into your keyword research workflow. It's packed with valuable insights that cannot be obtained from other keyword research tools.

But it has its limitations as the lack of accurate search volume is a problem.

Fortunately, other keyword research tools like Ahrefs Keywords Explorer can solve this. Such tools combine data from Google Keyword Planner with clickstream data to generate accurate estimates of search volume and more.

Some keyword metrics from Ahrefs Keywords Explorer

Try the Ahrefs Keywords Explorer for 7 days here. Or check out our complete guide on how to do keyword research. You can find it here.

Translated by Seybold.de, SEO agency from Stuttgart with over 20 years of experience