Google Keyword Planner: 6 Hacks Most SEOs Don’t Know Exist

Keyword planner hacks

Google Keyword Planner

In August 2016, Google began limiting the data available in Keyword Planner to non-advertisers.

In this article, you’re about to find out how to use Google Keyword Planner. Now, if you’re new to Keyword Planner, let’s get a free account set up for you and run through Keyword Planner’s two main search features in 45 seconds.

First, go to and click the “sign in” button up here and log in to your Google account.

After you sign in, you’ll be asked to enter in your email and website. Just click “Skip the guided setup,” or else you’ll have to go through a long setup process. Confirm the settings here and you’re done.

Google Keyword Planner


Now, click on tools, and choose Keyword Planner. You’ll have two choices: “find keywords,” or “get search volume and forecasts.” These are pretty self-explanatory.


Google Keyword Planner

Use the first option if you’re looking for new keyword ideas. Just enter a seed keyword and Keyword Planner will kick back hundreds or thousands of related suggestions, plus some metrics.

If you already have a list of keywords that you want to analyze, use the second option. This won’t suggest keywords but rather it’ll tell you estimated search ranges and CPC data for the keywords you entered.

Got it? Good.


Now, onto the hacks!


The first hack is to unlock exact keyword planner volumes without spending a dime.


Well… Kind of. When Google started restricting their data, most SEOs completely stopped using their tool. And a lot of us just weren’t willing to spend the money in advertising to unlock the search volumes since that money could be spent on better SEO tools.


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The good news is that you can still see the exact search volumes inside Keyword Planner without spending a penny.

First, go to “find keywords” and search for a keyword phrase or add multiple seed keywords. And here, you can see that both “iphone charger” and “apple iPhone charger” fall into the same average monthly search volume range.

Google Keyword Planner


But you and I both know that one of these has significantly more search volume, right?


So, I’ll select these two keyword phrases and select “exact match” from this dropdown. Finally, I’ll add these to our plan.

Next, click on the “keywords” menu in the sidebar. And next, I’ll edit the maximum CPC value to the highest Google allows. And as you start to exceed the maximum value, Adwords will show you a limit. So I’ll match that number to see the most exposure we can get for these keywords.

Now take a look at the impressions column in the table below. This number tells you the estimated number of impressions your ad would get over the next 30 days from your target keywords if you bid this amount.

This number should be a workable representation of the total search volume for your keyword if you were to attain a top ranking organic position.

Google Keyword Planer

Boom. Unlocked.

One thing worth noting here is that you should take these numbers with a grain of salt. Adwords doesn’t always show ads for every search query. And these impression figures are meant for advertisers and not for SEOs. For more accurate estimations, try a tool made for SEOs like Keywords Explorer.


The next hack is to steal keyword ideas from your competitors.


And Keyword Planner is the most useful for its ability to generate keyword ideas based on a seed keyword. But did you know that you can generate keyword ideas from a page or from an entire domain? Let’s say that you want to create a post on broken link building.

Go to Google and search for your target keyword and look at the top ranking pages. Then you can copy and paste the URL right into Google Keyword Planner. Just make sure to select the page URL and then run the search. Keyword planner will then bring up a list of keyword ideas based on the page that you’ve entered so you can get a list of relevant keywords on that topic.

Something to note is that this list of keyword ideas do not necessarily represent the organic keywords that this page ranks for. For example, one of the keyword suggestions is “link building company,” but if you look through the top 100 results for this search query, our page is nowhere to be found.

Google Keyword Planner

To get hyper-relevant keywords for a page, you’d have to use Ahrefs Site Explorer’s organic keywords report, where you can see all of the keywords a page ranks for, the keyword metrics, and ranking positions.

So, take these recommendations in Google Keyword Planner with a grain of salt and consider topical relevance when filtering through the results.

Another cool thing you can do is enter in the domain of one of your competitors and see if you can come up with topic ideas that are relevant for your site. So, I could type in, and then search their entire site for keyword ideas.


Now, you’ll see a bunch of branded queries, which aren’t very helpful since you likely won’t be able to serve the search intent for something like “Hubspot sales training.” You can exclude their brand name by clicking on Filter, select Keyword Text, then choose “does not contain” from the dropdown. Now, just enter in their brand name and you’ll see a much more relevant list of topics that you can target. You can also get creative with these filters. If you wanted to find question-like keywords, then you can add more keyword text filters. So, you can see here that I set up keyword text filters that contain keywords like who, what, when, where, why, and how.

Google Keyword Planner

And you’ll see a solid list of questions you can use in your blog posts or FAQ sections. And it looks like most of the questions are based around the topic of CRMs.

But this report only shows us around 50 or so results, which doesn’t seem right. Compare that to Ahrefs’ questions report with the seed, CRM, and you’ll see over 10,000 different questions that have search volume. But again, Keyword Planner is made for advertisers, so it’s not surprising that SEO tools would outshine them.

The next hack is to find lucrative keywords by looking at suggested bids.


And this tip is pretty simple but extremely powerful. And it’s based on this logic: If advertisers are willing to pay top dollar for an ad placement on a keyword, then that keyword likely holds commercial intent.

So, let’s use furniture as our seed keyword. Then I’ll sort the data by “Top of page bid” on the high range. And right away, you can see a whole bunch of great commercial keyword ideas.

Google Keyword Planner

One thing I would recommend looking at is the disparity between the low range and high range bids. You’ll see that “oriental furniture” has a low range of around $1, while the high range is over $20.

On the other hand, office furniture has a low range bid of around $6 and a high range of $22, which suggests that advertisers are consistently willing to pay top dollar on these ad placements.

It’s also worth looking for exact keyword volumes on the keywords you’re interested in targeting.

For example, Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer shows that “modern green couch” only has 20 monthly searches in the United States.

Now, while advertisers are willing to pay upwards of $50, you’d have to evaluate if targeting this phrase would be worth your time and effort.


The next hack is one of my favorites and that’s to get targeted locational data.


With most keyword research tools, you can only see keyword data by country. For example, if you look up “cleaning services” using the impressions hack, then you’ll see that there are nearly 150,000 impressions per month in the US alone. But I highly doubt someone is going to fly across the country to clean your house.

So, click on the locations at the top and enter the location that you serve. I’ll set the location to Toronto, and you’ll see the number of impressions change. One last thing you should do is to make sure that the CPC is set to its maximum value since Adwords costs will vary based on location.

Google Keyword Planner

And you should see a new updated version of the impressions for the locations you’ve selected.

Now, this example is for a pretty big city, so if you happen to live in a rural area, you may want to select all of the different cities and locations that your customers will be willing to travel from or the locations you will be willing to travel to. Then you can get an extra layer of insights by going to the plan overview.

Just scroll to the bottom of the page to see the percentage of impressions by the locations you entered. But using locational data isn’t limited to just local businesses, which you’ll see in the next hack.


Google Keyword Planner

And that’s to find out which countries, cities, and regions need your products and services on a global or national scale. Just enter in a keyword phrase or phrases that your prospective customers might be looking for. I’ll just type in SEO tools, keyword research, and backlink checker. Then add the keywords to your plan. Next, make sure that you clear any selected locations, which will search for data in all locations from around the world.

The report that you want to look at is, the “Plan Overview”. If we scroll down to the bottom of the page, you’ll see the countries ranked in order of popularity based on the filter you choose here. In our case as SEOs, impressions would make the most sense. Seeing that the majority of searches come from the US, we can set our location filter to search in the United States to drill down on specific locations.

Now, when you scroll to the bottom, you’ll see the total number of searches ranked by state. And if you click on the dropdown, you’ll be able to drill down on specific regions, municipalities, and cities. Even though the state of California produces the most impressions, you’ll see that the top city is on the other side of the country in New York.


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The next hack is to optimize for the devices that are searching for your keyword terms.


Different niches, in fact, different keywords can have significantly different search volumes based on the device that’s being used.

Google Keyword Planner

If we look at the “Plan Overview” page for our query on SEO tools, keyword research tools, and backlink checker, you’ll see that the vast majority of impressions come from computers. And it makes sense since people searching for these terms likely want to use or test a tool right then and there. And that’s not gonna happen on mobile.

Also, these queries are more for a B2B audience than a B2C audience.

But let’s examine the queries “restaurants near me” and other variants that are obviously more mobile dominant.

You’ll see that almost all of the searches come from phones and tablets. Now less obvious terms might be informational keywords related to babies and toddlers sleeping.

Google Keyword Planner

These searches are probably coming from tired parents turning to their phones in the middle of the night rather than whipping out their laptops.

With that said, it’s important that you consider this data in your keyword research process so you can optimize your pages for the devices that will actually be viewing it.

A couple additional tips to optimize for mobile would be to ensure that your fonts are readable for smaller screens and you’ll also want to make sure that your images are scaled proportionally.

For example, if you have a really long image at 1900 pixels, and a height of 500 pixels, it might look great on desktop, but it might be tough to make out on a mobile device.


What do you think of these keyword planner hacks?


Still, think search volume is useless even if you’re stuck with the ranged volumes?


Keep grinding away, find some cool keyword ideas, and read next articles:

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