How To Use The Google Keyword Tool (And Slash Your Ad Spend)

The best keywords in your industry are too expensive.

Sure, it’d be nice if you could just bid on those and be swimming in clients. But you can’t. At least not profitably.

Advertisers are already engaged in bidding wars for them. And when that happens, you can expect your budget to get thin. Fast.

But here’s the truth:

You don’t need to target just the top-of-the-line keywords in your industry.

Instead, try following some of the best practices for keyword selection and learn how to use the Google keyword tool for maximum success.

Here’s how you can start finding keywords that will drive sales without breaking the bank.

Keywords: 4 Best Practices To Set You Up For Success

We all wish that we could target the best industry keywords.

If only we could, we’d all be millionaires.

But that simply isn’t possible, nor is it necessary.

Here’s what you should be doing instead.

1. Balance low-volume and high-volume keywords

Keyword selection is a balancing act. If you choose keywords that have 100,000 monthly searches, you are likely going to pay a hefty amount in clicks simply due to the traffic.

On the other hand, a smaller volume keyword might only drive ten visits a month.

With keywords, you want a balance of both.

Remember: bigger isn’t always better. (I know what you’re thinking, and yes I’m judging you).

Just kidding. But seriously:

Skipping past vanity metrics like clicks and impressions is critical.

It doesn’t matter if you have 1,000 clicks but only one conversion. You’d much rather have 200 clicks and 20 conversions.

2. Only bid on what makes sense for your bottom line

Typical AdWords conversion rates for the search network are 2.70% on average across all industries:

Taking that number, you need to do some basic math before deciding which keywords to target.

For example, if you are selling a product for $15, you can’t have your cost per conversion be $14.

That would take hundreds of thousands of sales to see a big profit.

Let’s say the term you found has a $5 cost per click. If you take the typical conversion rate of 2.70% on 1,000 clicks, that would mean you would get 27 conversions.

But that also means you spent $5,000 to get them.

Always keep in mind the cost of your keywords and bid lower or higher based on your bottom line.

If it’s cheap, increase your bid to get more clicks and rank higher.

If it’s too expensive, bid lower to get fewer clicks at a cheaper cost.

3. Intent is critical

Intent is the most important (and overlooked) factor in keyword selection. Hands down.

AdWords excels at intent because users are actively searching for solutions.

Whereas on platforms like Twitter and Facebook, users aren’t.

Searcher intent is simply the intent behind a given search.

It’s the “why” behind the search. It answers the fundamental question of: What is the user trying to accomplish or solve with this search?

For example, when you search for a term like “windshield repair now,” you are probably desperate and looking to get this problem solved ASAP.

You’re at the bottom of the funnel almost instantly, and nearly anything can drive you to convert.

But what about a term like “best crm”? What’s the intent on that?

Likely, it’s not to purchase, but to examine a variety of options and reviews. Yet, companies are still bidding on that term and probably paying insane costs for clicks that aren’t going to convert:

Someone searching for “best crm” probably doesn’t want to see a CRM company saying that they’re the best.

They want reviews and comparisons. A great way to see if your instinct is true is to scroll down to the organic results:

You should instantly see intent. The popular organic content is all reviews, not companies touting their prowess.

Meaning wasting money on this term isn’t going to get you anywhere.

Intent can make or break your strategy and budget.

4. Always use negative keywords to reduce ad spend

Negative keywords are critical when building a keyword list.

Simply put, negative keywords are keywords that you specifically don’t want to show your ads for.

For example, if you don’t do free consultations, you obviously don’t want to show an ad for “free consultations” and pay $20 a click.

Using negative keywords can reduce your wasted spend dramatically by cutting out terms that won’t convert.

In the next section, I’ll show you exactly how to use them to reduce your ad spend and keep costs lower when selecting keywords.

Google Keyword Tool: What It Is And How To Use It

The Google keyword tool, formally known as the Google keyword planner, is a great place to scout new keywords for a PPC campaign.

They give you tons of free resources that can help you find new terms in just a few minutes.

Plus, with a few basic tricks, you can uncover data that would normally be difficult to find.

To get started using the Google keyword tool, head to your AdWords dashboard and click on the drop-down menu.

From here, select the keyword planner tool under the “Planning” section:

This will give you a few different options to work with.

You can:

  1. Search for keywords using a general phrase (to generate related terms) and use a website or a broad category.
  2. Get search volume data and trends for your keywords.
  3. Create keyword combinations and large lists.

When you’re just starting out, it’s best to stick with the first option.

To generate some basic ideas of terms in your niche to target, start by entering your product or service description, landing page or homepage, and your product category:

Try to keep the product/service section short and sweet. Don’t write an entire sentence or paragraph here. Simply summarize your business in two or three words.

If you don’t have a landing page set up yet, don’t worry. You can enter your homepage for now.

Lastly, select the product category for some extra context.

For example, if you’re a flower shop and you plan on selling locally, you can select the specific states, cities, or counties where you’re located or sell in:

If it’s just the United States or a specific country, then select that.

Negative Keywords

The last step is to add any negative keywords you can think of.

Negative keywords will help you weed out junk that doesn’t apply to you.

Let’s say you sell local flowers and you don’t do delivery. You only do pickup in-store.

You can exclude a term like “flower delivery” to weed out results that don’t apply to you.

Now hit “Get ideas” to generate a large list of keyword data:

Right away, you should see a few metrics for these keywords. The most important ones to focus on are:

  1. Average monthly searches, otherwise known as total keyword volume.
  2. Competition, as in how many advertisers are bidding on this term.
  3. Suggested bid, as in the typical cost per click you will pay for an ad.

If you click on the “Ad group ideas” tab, you can also generate a more condensed view that groups similar keywords into ad groups:

This is a quick way to filter out any terms or groups that don’t resonate with your goals.

Finding Trends With The Google Keyword Tool

After you’ve generated a substantial list, you can start to filter your graphed data by different trends:

For example, if you’re planning on running a mobile-based campaign, you can scout for mobile trends and breakdowns by device.

These small factors, like location, device usage, and mobile breakdown, will determine the right combination of keywords that you should pick.

Once you’ve scouted potential keywords to bid on, always be sure to double check them with a tool like SEMrush.

Try sorting the data by mobile or desktop to compare and contrast the “Trend” data.

This will show you how the term performed over time for each device, giving you ideas of where your money is better spent.

Always be sure to double check the keyword planner metrics with other tools to confirm or even disprove the data.

Competitor Keywords

On top of generating terms and data for your own categories and landing pages, you can easily steal a competitor’s ideas.

Competitor research is huge when it comes to PPC.

If your competitor is showing up for a search term that you aren’t bidding on, you could be losing tons of sales to them.

Thankfully, you can research keyword ideas based on any URL in the keyword planner.

Here’s how to steal your competitor’s keywords.

Head back to the keyword planner and this time enter your competitor’s website instead of your own:

Next, hit “Get ideas” to generate ideas based on their existing landing pages to grab keywords that they are likely already targeting.

This can uncover some amazing data, especially if your business is locally based and relies heavily on local sales.

For example, this simple competitor search for UrbanStems shows specific location-based keywords that have tons of volume at a relatively low cost per click.

Normally, this type of keyword might be difficult to find.

Try using a competitor-style search to bring up ideas and go head to head in sales.

Once you’ve done this, you can download or copy your keywords into a spreadsheet for the next step!

How To Use The Keyword Planner To Forecast Your Ad Spend

Unless you want to blow all your money in a few days, like me in Vegas, you need to forecast your ad spend.

AdWords has the potential to really chew up your budget in a matter of days depending on which keywords you’re bidding for.

For example, bidding on a keyword with a $10 CPC could cost you thousands of dollars a month even if you only got ten clicks a day.

To get started, head back to the keyword planner and scroll to the forecasting options at the bottom:

Select the first option, which will allow you to copy and paste or upload a list of keywords to analyze their costs and trends.

Type in your keywords or upload your list and run the forecast:

This will generate some complex data, but this chart will hopefully help clear up any confusion:

First off, you can start by entering a daily budget and a bid.

The daily budget is simply how much you’re willing to spend daily. You should always set a number for this unless you have a nearly unlimited budget.

In which case, I’m taking donations for my own marketing budget.  😳   

The bid amount is how much you’re willing to pay for each click you get.

The lower the bid, the fewer clicks you get. The higher the bid, the higher you show up on Google, resulting in more clicks.

The graph below is moveable, meaning you can toggle the bar and see how different costs lead to different clicks:

For example, selecting a $0.39 max cost per click will generate you over 1,400 clicks per day with these keywords.

That ends up being $339.76 per day already. It’s important to understand that as keyword volume goes up, so do your costs simply due to more clicks.

But if you have a large budget and a strong landing page, you can pull in tons of sales.

Be sure to use the budget tool before committing to these keywords to forecast your data before you’re already in the thick of it.


Thanks to the Google keyword tool, finding the best keywords doesn’t have to be boring, tedious, or difficult.

With factors like intent in mind, volume costs are critical when choosing the right terms for a PPC campaign.

Try using the Google keyword tool to uncover new ideas based on your landing pages or use it to steal your competitor’s keywords.

Be sure to run a forecast to predict your typical spending and adjust it based on your budget.

Don’t get caught up in the glory of bidding on top keywords. It’s a losing strategy that can sink your budget fast.

Just because a keyword has ten times the volume, it doesn’t mean you’ll get rich quick.

Instead, focus on finding the right keywords for your business by analyzing intent, including mixed volumes, and only bidding on what makes sense for your bottom line.

This will help you bring in conversions at a cost per acquisition that helps your business grow.