google keyword planner

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of the New Google Keyword Planner

Starting an online marketing campaign without investing a significant amount of time and money in keyword research would be like installing a roof on a house without a solid foundation (and with the new Google Keyword planner, you may be needing some help on that roof).

To profit from meaningful web content and successful campaigns, marketers and company owners need to identify, incorporate and make the most of popular keywords that are relevant to their niche, products or services and purpose in business. Hence the Google Keyword planner and SEO tools.

It’s true—the right number of well-placed keywords will repay your SEO efforts and guarantee the success of our PPC (pay-per-click) campaign. So far, Google has made our lives so much easier, by offering unlimited access to Google Adwords Keyword Tool — a valuable ally that allows marketers to make informed decisions.

The bad news? It now may become a thing of the past…and sooner than expected.

The “Focused” Google Keyword Planner, Ready to Replace Google’s old Keyword Tool

On May 20, 2013, Google introduced its replacement, the new Google Keyword Planner, hyped up as the seemingly perfect substitute. Why? It combines elements coming from two different tools: Google’s Keyword Tool and the much-needed Adwords Traffic Estimator.

But in this context, one question still remains unanswered: how will this significant change impact current online marketing strategies, from a SEO and PPC perspective?

So, what’s so special about Google Keyword Planner?

According to Search Engine Land, the Google Keyword Planner represents a more “focused” alternative to the old Google Adwords Keyword Tool. How? It displays features derived from two existing tools serving different purposes (traffic estimation and keyword search). In theory, this means that marketers might be able to create ad campaigns faster and easier than ever before.

The flip side to the shining coin? Google is no longer willing to offer people a keyword tool for free which they could use to their own advantage. Google might be trying to push users towards Adwords and constraint them to follow a simple rule: if you pay, you can make the most of valuable tools that were free just weeks ago now.

How It Works

The new Google Keyword Planner enables users to plan their new campaigns, as its name would suggest. To begin, you have to choose the way in which you want to start creating your new ad campaign. You have three options:


1)    Find appropriate keyword suggestions (look for Ad Group ideas and appropriate keywords)

By selecting this option, you’ll manage to obtain direct access to a solid keyword workbench, enabling you to identify, analyze and select the most relevant keywords and add them to your account. You can conduct your search in three different ways: by product category, by landing page or by keywords relevant to your business. The drawback? Unlike the previous tool, you can’t enter more than 50 keywords for your analysis. Some say it doesn’t even allow for 50 (it will block you after 20 or more).

2)    Upload or enter keywords to get estimates

Make the most of your very own keyword list and upload it in a CSV file to get estimates, rather than relying on keyword suggestions, provided by the keyword tool. One can either enter up to 1,000 keywords or choose to upload no less than 10,000 keywords in a CSV file.

3)    Multiply keyword lists (merge 2 or 3 keyword lists) to obtain estimates

The new tool allows users to mash-up 2 or 3 lists of keywords, in order to come up with every single keyword variation that you could possibly think of. The obvious drawback? Some variations obtained through this method don’t really make much sense and will never be typed by your potential buyers; thus, have no real value and should be eliminated.

So basically, once you identify the right keywords for your business, you can add them to your personalized “plan.” As soon as you complete this step, you can request estimates and review and your plan, until you are satisfied with the end result.

Choose your keywords wisely

According to Larry Kim from Search Engine Land, the new tool encourages marketers to be extremely picky when it comes to choosing their keywords, allowing them to select the best ones, based on different factors, such as keyword competition, average cost per click and estimated search volume.

What are the benefits offered by the new Google Keyword Planner?

The new tool introduced by Google does get bonus points for displaying search volume for particular regions (cities, towns, areas). Apparently, it fills the gap between the two different tools marketers use to make inspired decisions (Keyword Tool and Adwords Traffic Estimator). It also enables the user to choose one of the three methods of conducting keyword research anteriorly described, to upload their very own keyword list with up to 10,000 keywords in a CSV file and to make the most of the semi-useful integrated wrapper.

Why is the Google Keyword Planner far from being considered a flawless candidate?

Undoubtedly, when it comes to evaluating the overall performance of the new keyword tool, most marketers would probably say that there is still plenty of room for improvements. To highlight just a few disadvantages, while using the Keyword Planner users will have access to historical statistics just for the exact match types, and no longer for the “broad” and “phrase” types. This change is considered a big drawback by Kevin Udy from The Moz Blog, which highlights the crucial role played by phrase match data in a digital marketing campaign. There’s no getting around it—Google failed when they didn’t keep this integration.

The little secret Google wants you to find out without them telling you? It’s easier to use and you get more benefits if you start a paying Adwords campaign.

Next, the collected data generically refers to all types of devices (smartphones, tablets, PCs), as the new tool fails to help users with useful device targeting. Furthermore, if you are interested in finding more than 50 keywords, you can’t use anything but the second method of conducting keyword research (CSV upload/1,000 keywords). According to Andre Alpar from Search Engine Watch, most marketers might require a significant amount of time to get familiar with the new tool, as it appears to be rather “cumbersome.”

TIP: Trying to get started with the Keyword Planner? Start on the Support page by Google.

Analyzing Alternatives

Are you worried that the Google Keyword Planner might fail to match what you need in the SEO aspects of your life and business? Luckily, there are other options at hand, like the cost-free keyword tool from WordStream, KeywordSpy or SEMRush, which could help you conduct a more than satisfactory keyword search for free (without making you empty your pockets to run an Adword-oriented online marketing campaign).

What are your thoughts on the new Keyword Planner? We’d love to hear them (yea or nay)! Please share your feedback by leaving us a comment below.

4 replies
  1. Steve
    Steve says:

    Nice balanced and informative post Julia. My own feeling is, if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it! I guess I’ll get used to the keyword planner if I don’t run with an alternative.

    • Julia McCoy
      Julia McCoy says:

      Thank you for your input, Steve! I don’t think the Keyword Tool was broken and the improvement isn’t easy to use on the go. Best of luck getting used to the new version! 🙂


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