Keyword Planner is an updated tool that Google rolled out recently, with surprisingly little fanfare or attention. It is a combined interface for two older tools, the Keyword Tool and Traffic Estimator. But it also adds some new functionality, and breathes more life into the aging Google Ads keyword research tools.
Keyword Planner Interface
The interface is slimmed down, with both the functions of Keyword Tool and Traffic Estimator built into it. There are three basic functions of the tool: “search for keyword and ad group ideas,” “enter or upload keywords to get estimates,” and “multiply keyword lists to get estimates.” The first two tools are slightly modified versions of the Keyword Tool and the Traffic Estimator. These keep the functions of the original tools but add some useful little extras:
- Location targeting. Location targeting in keyword searches is a lot more specific than it used to be. The old Traffic Estimator could only estimate traffic at the country level, which was, let’s face it, virtually useless if you have a location-specific business. Keyword Planner has vastly improved this by letting you focus down to the town or city level. This is still a little behind the curve, as some software can crunch locations within a kilometre of a target location, but is still a giant step in the right direction. SEOMoz has a good description of how to use the Keyword Planner to target specific areas.
- Exclusions. You can change the settings so that suggested keywords that are already part of your keyword list are excluded from the lists. This is a small change, but it saves a surprising amount of time.
In addition, the math and logic used by the tool seems to have been tweaked a little. Changes include:
- Exact match replaced broad match. The estimates for keywords are now the Google exact match results. This means that every keyword you search will yield fewer estimated searches than before. However, it also means that Cost Per Click estimates are more accurate because your ads are more likely to be displayed on exact match keywords.
- Cost Per Click estimates are generally better. The new Cost Per Click estimation also factors in the bid you suggested, resulting in more accurate estimates.
- All device data is grouped together. Like Enhanced Campaigns, the data collection of Keyword tools no longer makes distinctions by device.
Most importantly, however, is the introduction of a new function: “multiplying” keyword lists. This takes two keyword list and generates unique combinations using both. From now on, this function will likely be an industry standard part of the keyword research process.
Not every change with Planner is positive. The separate data collection for devices will likely be missed. However, on the whole, Planner is more accurate, easier to use, and has more functions than either of the tools that came before it.