Is Google’s new Keyword Planner better than the PPC Keyword Tool?

Monday, September 9th, 2013 by Sam Osborne

Now that the Google Keyword Tool as finally migrated fully over to the Keyword Planner within Google Adwords, I have taken a look at just what is different and what it all means for SEO…


In most new product launches with Google, appearance tends to change in some way, the Keyword Planner has followed suit and has been brought up to date.

keyword planner

It may appear a little more clunky now, as well as being less intuitive, but considering the audience this isn’t such a bad thing. There are now three main options, which ultimately lead to the same result with which you can start.

Search for a keyword and ad group ideas

Much of the keyword planner that people will recognise is down the keyword and ad group ideas funnel. Here you will see all your standard options for targeting and including / excluding certain phrases.

This option immediately throws Ad Group Ideas at us, but we can switch over to Keyword Ideas easy enough by clicking the tab at the top of the list. This is where things get a lot cooler that the old Keyword Tool. The tool still displays a relevant list of keywords at us that are based on the phrases or URL that you want, but it goes a little further in the information it provides. In the average monthly searches column there is a graph icon which shows the monthly searches for the previous 12 months. This means we can see historic data and potential trends again.

search volume graph

For this keyword in particular, I can not only see that the search volume trends but can also see that the forecasted search volumes are looking bleak. This can help you to drive your keyphrase strategy and match the right groups of keywords up with on-going events within your client’s industry.

Enter or upload keywords to see how they perform

The second option is a slight change on the first, in that you can upload your own list with any match type into the Keyword Planner. There are still targeting options but these are more phrased towards Pay Per Click.

Although the accessibility of files for the upload options is very good, there are a few helpful hints to pass on from Google’s help page. If the document just has a list of keywords, one per row, then it will upload with ease. If the document has only one column of many with the keywords you want, this column should be named “Keyword” to ensure that there are no issues with the upload (it also has to be in English).

Multiple keywords lists

The final option is an interesting one, as it allows you to save time by manually combining keywords through the multiplication of two or more lists. Let’s consider a bank with hundreds of locations. You want to quickly generate an ad group (or find out search volumes) for mortgages in each of your locations, so you can simply add all the locations into one box and the group of mortgage phrases you want to combine in the other.

The image below shows the input and output of the Multiple Keyword List option.

Multiple Keyword Lists

Multiple Keyword Lists - Output

Although a fairly useful feature, unfortunately, you will notice that it has not given me specific search volumes. It has, however, nicely grouped everything, named it and – although not shown – allowed me to automatically import this into my Adwords account, so we can tell where Google has aimed this tool. You can download the information though, which shows you the search volume details. The downside to this appears to be that it only exports keywords search volume as broad match, regardless of what the match type column states.

Final Thoughts

Personally, I find the Keyword Planner really easy to use and I quite enjoy doing so. It creates a more engaging experience than the previous tool and is not quite so ‘input keywords, export keywords’. There is a sense of reason and a rationale to those keywords that can be chosen now – and this is very cool.

In the future I would like to see more data being made available in the tools interface. For example, whether the specific keyword fits with the actual trend (which 90% of key phrases I have looked at do to a degree, but there have been some interesting outliers) is one thing. Another which I feel is of equal importance nowadays is search volume per device (Mobile / Desktop).

How have you got on with the new tool?

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About the author

Sam Osborne

Sam Osborne

Sam Osborne has worked in digital marketing for over five years and prior to joining Vertical Leap as a Campaign Delivery Manager worked as head of digital for a digital media agency.