For most seasoned PPC savants, the Google AdWords Keyword Planner has lost its glitter and excitement; however, as a newer paid search enthusiast, I have found that this tool is often taken for granted and underutilized. This sometimes-snubbed tool provides an easy leg up or “Mario Kart turbo start” in research and easily-accessible insight into competition, volume and searchers’ intent.

When to Use

There are a plethora of ways to leverage the keyword planner. I most commonly use the tool to find new areas for keyword category expansion, research new modifiers to test, discern competition of potential new areas, determine searchers’ intent and find preemptive
negative keywords.

How to Use

Recently, I researched new keyword areas for a client who sells banners. Customers can upload images or pictures to customize their own banners and signs.

For researching new areas, make sure to choose the option to show broadly related terms; not everything will be relevant, but it can provide insight to negative keywords as well as searcher’s intentions.  This will help you exclude irrelevant traffic proactively before you spend precious ad dollars on those clicks.


When you enter a term, Google will first generate suggested ad groups with the average monthly searches, the competition level in a scale from low to high and a suggested bid. If you are signed into your account, the tool not only shows you if you are already bidding on the keyword or keyword variation, but will also give the ad impression share. The impression share provides insight into opportunities for further keyword traffic. The keyword planner has tabs for new ad group ideas with related, but not tightly knit, keywords housed within and a tab for related keywords. I suggest looking at both since the lists differ.

If there isn’t volume, your effort and time can be prioritized looking for new keywords to isolate as their own ad groups. If there is a lot of volume, you may want to consider the type of traffic it will drive. Do you need to add qualifiers (ie. “Online” & “order”) and more long-tail variations (ie. “Customized vinyl image banners”)? Especially if you’re working on a limited budget, the Keyword Planner allows you to focus your spend around the specific niche of keyword traffic most likely to convert.


When I researched “image banners” many terms generated such as “images of banners,” “YouTube banner maker,” and “website banners” were obvious negatives. Some suggested terms notified me of other ways “image banner” could be interpreted, such as website banners which are image banner ads.  Other terms suggested, such as “picture banners,” could be profitable and needed further research.

Per the tool’s suggestion I next research “picture banner” terms.


Just as before, obvious negatives appear, such as “pictures of banners” and “pictures of birthday banners.” After looking at the few terms that make sense for my account, I determined the head term “image banners” would not likely be a profitable space for my client. I decide to test “photo banner” and “picture banner” root terms with modifiers I already know to perform well for the account such as “design your own,” “custom,” and “online” to qualify the traffic. I also decided not to include +picture +banner in modified broad, since it will most likely match to “pictures of banners” or worse, “pictures of David Banner.” Although creating a David Banner campaign would probably be very entertaining…