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The last article I wrote to kickstart your keyword research for seo was to give you a layman view of how keyword research works. The article primarily focused on the creation of an initial list of keywords without using any tools (paid/free).

I did not introduce concepts like search volume, competition, research, etc because I wanted you to take baby steps first before i taught you advanced steps of onpage SEO.

Recently, I did a few workshops where a lot of students were confused when I explained a few concepts of Digital Marketing without telling them how a website is set up.

When I decided to do a blog on keyword research, my first thought was “I will start with basics”.

And that’s what I did.

I used Google’s search bar as a base to build my initial list of keywords.

Why do we need to research more?

The only issue with the list is the lack of benchmark to evaluate how competitive the keyword is.

None of the keywords we researched there has search volume, number of visits expected, competition, etc.

Without the above set of parameters, we are hitting in the dark.

Moving forward, I am going to demonstrate how to do keyword research using the free tool of Google “Google Keyword Planner“.

Google keyword planner is one of the best free seo keyword research tools available in the market.

In this tutorial, i will teach you how to use keyword planner for keyword research for seo.

The subtopics will include:

  • How to access keyword planner in AdWords
  • How to use the result of keyword planner
  • How to see results in keyword planner

Understanding Google Keyword Planner

First and foremost, let’s understand why Google Keyword planner is important:

  1. It is Google’s own tool. Yay! At least, the data we get here will be more accurate than what others give us.
  2. The tool is free to use. In the age of “no free lunches”, this attribute makes the tool invaluable.
  3. The wide array of options to filter the data and an easy to use interface makes it a must tool for anyone learning keyword research.

Before I start, I want you to pay attention to all the steps I will list down here to use Google Keyword Planner. (I demand your attention, my lord! A failure to do so will make you a lost soul in the midst of the confusing world of SEO….Just kidding!)

In this blog you will find out:

How to access Google Keyword Planner?

How to do keyword research with google keyword planner?

How to use google keyword planner for SEO?

How does google keyword planner work?

You can only access Google Keyword planner through Google Ad-words.

To start the process, enter adwords.google.com in your browser.

Keyword Planner Login

Click on sign in. You can use your existing Gmail id to link to your Adwords account or create a new Gmail id.

google adword gmail

Once you login to Google Ad-words, you usually land up on the page which shows all your Google Ad-words campaigns, etc. The dashboard screen describes all your activities related to Google Ad-words.

google adword dashboard

We are not here to study Google Ad-words. Let’s quickly move forward to find the Google keyword planner tool.

(Note: Don’t be scared of the red colored ribbon shown just below the menu bar. The red ribbon is a notification from Google notifying you of your Ad-word account’s current status. Nothing fancy. A simple notification to let you know urgent messages related to Google Ad-words).

The keyword planner tool is under Tools -> Keyword Planner

keyword planner tool in menu

As soon as you click on keyword planner, you see the screen:

google keyword planner page

Now the above screen is the one, where the magic happens.

You should understand the use of all the options specified here.

There are two headings you see on the screen:

  1. Find new keywords and get search volume data.
  2. Plan your budget and get forecasts.

The relevant one for keyword research is the first one. This is where you can search your keyword research by using the option: “Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category”.

This is the most relevant of the 3 options available here. The option is used extensively for keyword research. Once you click on the option, it expands and gives you the option to fill in relevant information to help you with keyword research.

keyword planner keyword research

The values to fill in or select are self-explanatory.

For ex, In the first text box, you define your product or service in the box. I am continuing from the last keyword research I did earlier.

In our case, the product/service is: how to write a business plan.

The next option asks for the landing page. I do not have a landing page yet. Hence, I will keep the value as blank.

(Note: You can also use the landing page option to give landing page of your competitor to get few keyword ideas based on the keywords used by them).

Here is how you use the option to research your competitor’s page.

  1. Type your keyword in Google. In our case, the keyword is “How to write a business plan”.
  2. This is the first link on top of Google’s ranking: http://www.bplans.com/sample_business_plans.php
  3. I will enter the link in your landing page section to get keyword ideas from competitor’s website.

I am leaving the product category section as blank. You can select the relevant category as per your product/service’s category.

Targeting: I select India and United states

Languages: All languages

Search engine: Google

Negative keywords: As of now I am leaving it blank but I am going to use this option to expand my search once we reach the next section of keyword research.

Date range, keyword filter, keyword option, keywords to include are all set to default as I am just looking for a 12-month keyword data presently. I don’t want to apply filters until I see the first list of keywords. Keyword options: I set the option to show adult content as off for obvious reasons ???? (I stay in a country where pornography and adult stuff is illegal and I am not teaching anyone to write business plan for a porn website. In future, I might switch the option on where priorities change).

Moving forward, Keywords to include is an option I don’t want to touch till I see my first list of keywords suggested by Google keyword planner.

Here is our screen with all options set to get us keyword ideas:

keyword research

Click on get ideas and wait for the magic to happen.

And here we are at our initial screen of keyword research:

keyword research updated

If you recall, we had a list of 21 keywords from the last keyword list we researched using Google auto suggest and related keywords.

  1. How to write a business plan
  2. Writing a business plan
  3. Business plan explained for entrepreneurs
  4. Business plan for startups
  5. Simple business plan
  6. Sample business plans
  7. how to write a business plan step by step
  8. example of a business plan
  9. simple business plan
  10. simple business plan example
  11. business plan template
  12. business plan sample
  13. business plan for a startup
  14. write a business plan template
  15. Business plan sections explained
  16. Sample business plan for startup
  17. business plan startup template
  18. business plan startup
  19. business plan samples for new business
  20. Free business plan
  21. business plan examples for students

I have just used one keyword from the list. Let’s add the other 20 keywords too to the search box.

Now our search box has all 21 keywords in it:

google keyword planner explained

Again, click on get ideas.

And we can see a simple analysis of all the 21 keywords in the first section of our screen:

keyword estimated traffic

Let’s quickly understand the meaning of all Google keyword planner lingo here.

  1. Search terms: Lists the keyword
  2. Average monthly searches: Average monthly searches for the keyword
  3. Competition: Don’t confuse the competition here with competition for your keyword to rank for the first position in Google. This column barely tells us what is the competition from companies to get featured on top position in Google for this keyword. It does tell you the popularity of keyword and how valuable it is for companies but using it as a parameter to judge the keyword difficulty is a mistake.
  4. Suggested bid: The option is only of use to you if you are planning to run a PPC campaign else you do not have to worry about this particular column.

All the other options we saw on the page previous to the keyword ideas page are now aligned one after another (top to bottom) on the left-hand side of the page:

keyword planner options

The second section of the get ideas screen comprises of the suggested keywords from Google.

KW Planner

As you can see the word search terms has been replaced with the keyword (by relevance).

Rest everything else remains the same as the top section.

Now we start with a process which will be an ongoing process until we finalized a list of keywords for our blog.

To start with, let’s start adding the relevant keywords to plan by clicking on add to plan button at the end of each row.

keyword planner add to plan

The button highlights once you mouse hover on the same.

As you start adding keywords to plan, the right column start showing few numbers related to AdWords for running a PPC campaign.

budget adwords

Again, none of them is relevant to you as we are focused on keyword research, not PPC campaign.

I initially selected 20 keywords to the list (the ones from our easier list) and now I am going to add few more from the new suggested list of keywords from Google keyword planner.

I can keep repeating the above steps till we get the final set of keyword we think are right for our website. i.e, you add to plan -> copy keywords from there and paste the values in the search box to get the relevant results.

We keep repeating the steps till we get the relevant keywords.

I will take another approach to get the keywords for the blog by exporting all keywords suggested by google to a spreadsheet..fast forward a little

We at present have 720 keywords suggested by Google keyword planner tool.

I need to trim the list. (cut the flab).

Let’s start by using our filter option on the left-hand side.

I can see a lot of keywords using words which are not at all related to what we are searching for.

Here are few of them: Proposal (used in how to write a business proposal, business proposal template, etc), Restaurant (used in restaurant business plan, business plan for a restaurant), Sales (used in sales plan template), Business case (used in business case template), Website (used in Website business plan), Coffees shop, Retail.

We will select negative keyword options and enter the above words to the list of negative keywords:

keyword planner - negative keywords

Another filter I am going to add is to only include keywords which have a business plan word used in them. There are a lot of unwanted keywords like marketing plan, etc which are a part of the keyword research.

To get rid of them, we will apply the filter by updating the “keywords to include” option.

I have also selected: show broadly related ideas.

Now we have 711 keywords which incidentally hasn’t reduced our initial list of keywords in terms of numbers but I am assuming, the list is more relevant now.

Next step is to download all keywords to a spreadsheet.

Here is the file for you to download a review the initial list of keywords.

I have removed columns which are of no use to us.

Time to use the filter option in the spreadsheet to get the relevant keywords. Here are few steps for you to quickly filter the relevant keywords:

  • Select the filter from option and select the link of your competitor to get all keyword ideas from your competitor’s website

keyword research spreadsheet

  • Find long tail keywords with less competition i.e, keywords where PPC advertisers are not interested in spending money on.

My new filtered list now has some 160 keywords now. I am filtering it further to find the ones which are long tail and have a decent search volume.

(Note: I usually start with long tail keywords as they are easy to rank and get specific traffic for searched keywords).

I have marked the keywords I selected in grey.

keyword research planner_updated

Now I will go back to the spreadsheet and find some keywords which have not been extracted from my competitor’s website. Again, I will look for long tail keywords.

Here is what I have filtered:

keyword planner

The finalization of keywords from the final list is based on factors:

  1. Relevancy of keyword to the topic you plan to write
  2. Competitor’s keywords
  3. Length of keyword
  4. Average Monthly traffic

And Common sense, which unfortunately is not provided by Google 😀

The final list of keywords which I have can be downloaded from here

The list still has 37 keywords. We still must filter the list to get it under 10 keywords.

This is where you should do some manual research on google to check the competition and searches on Google.

Here are the final steps to lead you to the final list of keywords:

(Note: Use Google search Operators For keyword Competition)

  • First Search In Title using -> intitle:“Keyword”. The syntax searches for all websites which have exactly used the keyword in their title. For ex, your keyword is “business plan for startup”. The search will generate a list of websites which have exactly use the keyword “business plan for startup” in the same order in their website’s title.

The keywords which get less than 100 results are the ideal ones for you to target. ” (Competition<100 Results)

  • Then Use Exact Search by typing exact-match- “Keyword”. This search generates the list of websites which use the keyword anywhere in the content. It could be in title or body of the website.

Any keyword which gets less than 1000 results is an ideal keyword. (Competition<10,000 Results)

  • Lastly, search using All in Title search by typing allintitle:Keywords. The list generated here is the list of websites which use the keywords given by you in the title not necessarily in the same order or not all the keywords. i.e, if you are searching for ‘business plan for startup’ websites with title “business plan” or “startup business” can also show in the result.

The keywords with competition less than 500 results are perfect for you.(Competition<500 Results)

Let me give you an example to demonstrate what I wrote above. If I have to check keyword: sample business plan example.

  1. Intitle:“sample business plan”: About 47,900 results
  2. “sample business plan” : About 13,90,000 results
  3. allintitle:sample business plan : About 2,18,000 results

I would not use the above keyword.

How about trying another keyword free business plan template for small business

  1. Intitle:”free business plan template for small business”: 5 results
  2. “free business plan template for small business”: About 1,69,000 results.
  3. allintitle: sample business plan: About 704 results

The keyword is a good keyword for your campaign. It ticks two out of 3 check boxes for eligibility.

You can now select keywords which you can use in combination with this keyword or pick short keywords from the above keyword to finalize the keyword for your website and write a keyword title around the keywords selected.

You must perform the above 3 steps for all your keywords.

The best keywords are the ones which match all the 3 criteria defined above.

I know what I have written is a time-consuming job and will take you a day if not less to do a keyword research for a single page.

Still, it is the best and the simplest way to do keyword research without using any third-party tools.

The other alternatives to keyword research include searching keywords using free or paid third party tools which provide you with all relevant information like keyword difficulty in the tool itself.

The next article will list free and paid tools you can use for keyword research. The tools will cut down your keyword research time drastically and help you focus on other aspects of SEO.

Seriously! Is it possible? Why didn’t you tell this before?

Oh Yes. It is possible and i kept this news at the end of blog else you would never have learned the fundamentals of keyword research 🙂


Learner at The Sharp Brain
Jasmeet is one of the brains behind The Sharp Brain. Although, not the sharpest brain amongst the team he gets to lead the team because of the "founder" designation next to his surname.

He shares his startup experiences at http://lessonsatstartup.com
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