AdWords Keyword Planner: What Has Changed (And How To Use It)

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 new and updated Google keyword tool for maximum success.

If you want to go straight to what has changed in the new AdWords keyword planner click here.

If you also want to know how to start finding keywords that will drive sales without breaking the bank, just keep on reading.

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.

That means that 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 Has Changed 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.

Recently, Google rolled out the new AdWords experience. But they didn’t update the Keyword Tool at first.

But now, Google has implemented specific updates to the Keyword Tool that reflect the new AdWords update.

Previously, the Keyword Tool would give you a few options to choose from:

But the new update has changed things.

Now, when you go to explore keywords, you’ll get the following startup screen:

In this section, we’ll show you how to use it and take full advantage of the new offerings.

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 new options to work with, but the selection is now much more limited compared to the previous keyword planner update.

You can:

  1. Search for keywords using a general phrase (to generate related terms) and use a website or a broad category.
  2. Get metrics and forecast costs for your keywords.

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 just like you would before:

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.

Next, you should see a vastly different results dashboard:

This dashboard has a lot going on, so let me break it down for you.

Essentially, the results will be the same as your previous experience with the Keyword Tool. This is mostly an update and design change to match the current AdWords experience. With that being said, there are a few changes to the way information is displayed.

All of your keywords that relate to your entry will display by relevance like in the older version.

But now, you’ll see two key categories of “Top of page bid (low)” and “Top of page bid (high)”:

These give you a clear picture of what you need to pay to rank within the top results on the first page vs. the bottom of the first page.

Instead of just an average bid or CPC, you get specific, actionable numbers to base your bidding on. No more guessing and adjusting.

Want to rank for “flower shop” as #1? Bid more than $3.00. Want to rank at the bottom of the page for it? Bid more than $1.03.

With the updated filter feature, you can exclude specific keywords and filter the data based on bidding, competition, volume, and more:

Essentially, this updated feature helps you sort out keywords that don’t fit your budget and goals.

Another update came directly into the search volume trends graph on your keyword ideas page:

Now, AdWords shows your mobile and total search volume trends first. In the older version, this was only available through drop-down selections.

When modifying columns on the update, you will also see two new metrics:

  1. Organic impression share: what percentage of the clicks on the search term is organic or paid?
  2. Organic average position: if you rank organically for these terms, this will be a valuable metric.

Negative Keywords

The last step is to add any negative keywords you can think of. Negative keywords will help you weed out results that don’t apply to you.

In the previous version of Google’s keyword planner, you could easily add negative keywords at the top of your generated list:

But now, the location of your negative keyword filter is called “Keyword text.”

Click on the small filter icon and select “Keyword text” to add negative keywords and filter your ideas list.

In the keyword text box, type the keywords you don’t want to show up for, such as “flower delivery,” and then hit “Apply”:

Hitting “Apply” will generate an updated list of ideas excluding those keywords you filtered out.

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. Top of page bid metrics (new), showing you specific bids for ranking high or low on the first page of that term.If you click and select keywords, you can quickly add them to a new ad group plan and choose what match type you want as well:This is a quick way to filter out any terms or groups that don’t resonate with your goals and add specific ones to your plan.

Finding Trends With The updated Google Keyword Tool

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

For example, if you’re planning on running a location-based campaign, you can scout for hyper-specific trends and breakdowns by factors like region, state, county, and more:  

These new features allow you to get more specific data without leaving the planner.

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.

Spying on competitor keywords in the new Keyword Tool

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.

With the new keyword planner, you can conduct competitor research from within your keyword plan.

Simply type a competitor’s website into the search bar at the top:

Type in their site link and hit  “Get Results”:

Now you should see an entire keyword ideas list that contains the terms they are most likely to bid on:

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 New 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, you can forecast tons of data right within the new keyword planner update, and you don’t have to navigate out from your keyword ideas list.

In the past, you had to navigate to the main menu and choose the forecast option. But the new update consolidates information into a single section.

Now, simply select keywords for the ideas list that you are interested in bidding on. Add those to a new plan:

On the left-hand side, click on the plan overview:

The plan overview is essentially a detailed, improved budget and strategy forecasting tool compared to the old keyword planner.

With new charts and data, you can see the specific keywords you selected. You can also see automatic data on performance from clicks to impressions and expected costs depending on your max CPC.

With the old planning tool, you had to set specific bids and move a dynamic bar to see how different CPCs impacted those metrics.

Instead of having to manually adjust, AdWords does it automatically, giving you data on devices, keywords, costs, and more.

You can even see the top locations that search for your keywords, giving you great ideas for location-based campaigns:

If you want to change your max CPC, simply click the current value, change it, and watch the data dynamically adjust:

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 new updates within the Google Keyword Tool, finding the best keywords doesn’t have to be boring, tedious, or difficult.

New features in the latest keyword planner update allow you to find and analyze keywords faster.

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.

What do you think? Do you like the new version of the AdWords keyword tool? Let us know in the comments!