Now that Google has officially limited access to Keyword Planner from just anyone or any bot that wanted some good search volume data, the team behind the tool is aiming to inform advertisers how to use it more effectively for campaign planning.
I’m sure there are Keyword Planner power users out there, but I’d like to think I use the tool the way most people do. That is, I get keyword ideas and a sense of CPCs to be able to make a rough budget estimate, maybe do some slicing and dicing based on geotargets and devices. If you do more than that, congratulations, you’re a power user in my mind. If you are like me, Google wants to show us how to get more out of the tool, starting with an AdWords Community post published Thursday.
“We’ve heard your feedback that this limited view of search volume makes it difficult to plan new Search Network campaigns. In these cases, we recommend taking advantage of the forecasting feature in Keyword Planner.”
This is where Keyword Planner gets confusing (right from the start). When I read the statement above, I assumed Google was referring to the “Plan your budget and get forecasts” section of Keyword Planner, but it refers to the forecasting features available after you “Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category.” That’s good, because that’s usually where I start anyway.
Depending on your account spend, this next screen is where you might see very broad ranges in average monthly search volume data that aren’t exactly useful for planning. Still, go through the exercise of researching keywords and add them to your plan. Then click the Review plan button as shown in the screen shot below. (I’ve also circled the nearly hidden “Set match type” button just to point it out because it’s hard to notice on this page)
Now, you’re at the forecasting page Google refers to above. Well almost. The initial forecast page starts at the ad group level. Start by setting a top-level bid and/or an optional daily budget if you know you’ll have a fixed spend. You can then use the slider in the chart to get performance estimates.
Clicking on any of the ad groups allows you to get more granular by setting bids at the keyword level.
And, of course, you can add negative keywords, play with match types, locations and language and choose whether you want to include Google search partners. You can also expand the date range to show a monthly forecast, for example. There are also conversion estimates available.
For new accounts, CPC estimates are based on real auction data from the previous seven days and take into account factors like seasonal trends.
Once you’re happy with a plan, you can download it or add it to an account, as always.
In short, Google has made the Keyword Planner a tool for advanced advertisers to get a sense of what a plan will yield them, rather than a general sense of how big the search universe is for a set of keywords.