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9 Creative Ways To Use Google’s Keyword Planner Tool

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9 Creative Ways To Use Google's Keyword Planner Tool

One thing that attracts many entrepreneurial-minded spirits to the SEO industry is its dynamic design.

Strategies are changing continuously based on each client’s focus and industry, preventing proverbial cookie-cutter practices.

This is especially true when approaching keyword research.

There are many keyword research tools available, and each requires a unique creative focus to produce the best search opportunities.

For this article, I’ll home in on one tool from the internet Mothership that sometimes gets sidelined for SEO due to its ad-based focus: Google Keyword Planner.

Here, you’ll find nine Keyword Planner research tips that can help you target more profitable terms in organic and paid campaigns.

1. Choose Low Volume, High-Reward Keywords

First and foremost, you want to know which products, services, and keywords deliver the most profit.

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With this information, you can create a list of seed keywords to launch your first plan of attack.

Generally, I focus on quality over quantity, which typically equates to low volume over high volume.

For example, one of our clients is an environmental consulting company, so getting someone to convert an organic piece of content for an “SWPPP Plan” could yield that company thousands of dollars in one sale.

Image from Google Keyword Planner, April 2022low competition keywords

As you can see, search competition for many of these keywords is low, and volumes are rising for many relevant keywords in that space.

Due to increasing environmental concerns, keywords like these will continue to grow and make money for whoever captures their organic share.

Bonus Tip: If you’re looking for more accurate keyword volumes, use another keyword planner like Semrush or create a high bid using the max CPC on a keyword to better understand its total volume and monthly impressions.

2. Sort Keywords By Intent

Next, compile a list of keywords for each campaign and sort by intent.

Unfortunately, Google’s Keyword Planner doesn’t provide any filters for intent, such as commercial, informative, or navigational intent.

However, we can glean commercial intent from other keyword phrases by filtering keywords by Top of Page Bid in ascending or descending order.

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For example, pages with higher Top of Page Bids typically have highly competitive commercial intent and imply relatively good conversion rates if advertisers are willing to bid so highly on these terms.

compile a list of keywords for each campaign and sort by intentImage from Google Keyword Planner, April 2022compile a list of keywords for each campaign and sort by intent

LinkedIn content marketing is a highly sought-after term with lots of competition based on this research.

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However, you can flip this list in ascending order to discover keyword terms with greater informational intent.

Using our previous example of “SWPPP Plans,” we find informational keywords with low bids in ascending order.

 flip this list in ascending order to discover keyword terms with greater informational intentImage from Google Keyword Planner, April 2022 flip this list in ascending order to discover keyword terms with greater informational intent

Bonus Tip: Using phrases like “buy,” “coupon,” “sale,” etc., will help you separate keywords by commercial intent.

On the other hand, terms like “best practices,” “top,” and question phrases will signify informational intent.

3. Take Keyword Ideas From Competitors

While several competitive research tools are available, including Ahrefs, Semrush, Majestic, etc., you can conduct competitive keyword research right in Google’s Keyword Planner.

In fact, right when you log onto Keyword Planner, they offer options to search for keywords using a seed keyword or a competitor website.

 conduct competitive keyword research right in Google’s Keyword PlannerImage from Google Keyword Planner, April 2022 conduct competitive keyword research right in Google’s Keyword Planner

Google will provide a list of all keywords this website ranks for, and you can filter out keywords by brand name to get a good list of keywords a website is ranking for.

Bonus Tip: Click Organic Average Position in Custom Columns to see where this website ranks for specific keywords to generate ideas for success.

4. Skyscraper Content Using Page-Specific Keywords

You may notice that Google Keywords Planner provides a keyword overview of your competitor’s website and page-specific content in the image above.

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If you were searching for topics and keywords for top or mid-funnel content that drives traffic to your website, you could use any of your favorite competitor research tools to see which pages are driving traffic to a website.

Of course, you could also manually input any webpage that your competitor outranks you for and discover other keyword ideas and variations.

For example, using Semrush, I found that this article on alternative search engines pulls in the highest annual traffic for Search Engine Journal.

I can see the most relevant keywords driving traffic to that web page by copying and pasting the link in Keyword Planner.

see the most relevant keywords driving traffic to that webpageImage from Google Keyword Planner, April 2022see the most relevant keywords driving traffic to that webpage

You could even bid on these keywords if you’re so inclined, whether you’re marketing an alternative search engine or an awesome piece of content.

Bonus Tip: Conducting page-by-page keyword research, you can discover other keyword variations Google ranks that page for that you otherwise would not have inputted in your content.

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5. Satisfy Intent With Keyword Questions

Informative content answers as many user questions as possible.

This provides several advantages for your SEO and content strategy, including:

  • Ranking for rich snippet and answer box searches.
  • Satisfying user intent.
  • Outranking the competition by holding user attention for longer and garnering more clicks.
  • Ranking for even more keywords than a broad seed term.

Fortunately, Google’s Keyword Planner provides easy filters to input question phrases, such as “what,” “when,” “where,” “why,” and “how” to help create stellar content that satisfies user intent and educates users.

Bonus Tip: AnswerthePublic is a free tool that provides common user questions in an easily visualized format to help you answer as many questions as possible.

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In addition, Google’s answer box and commonly searched results at the bottom provide good indicators of what questions users are researching.

6. Filter By Location

Another great feature of Google’s Keyword Planner is the ability to filter ads and impression shares to specific locations.

Google even lets you filter keyword search volumes down to the city level.

filter ads and impression shares to specific locationsImage from Google Keyword Planner, April 2022filter ads and impression shares to specific locations

In addition, you can access search volume data by state or region to find out where most of your traffic and customers originate in Google’s Forecast tab.

For example, below, I looked up the search volume for “SWPPP plans.”

 find out where most of your traffic and customers originateImage from Google Keyword Planner, April 2022 find out where most of your traffic and customers originate

Using this data, you could create location-specific landing pages for SWPPP plans for California, Texas, Florida, etc.

Bonus Tip: Filtering searches by location also provides a good baseline for the amount of reach local ads on Facebook and other networks will garner.

For example, if most searches are regionally specific, this could help you avoid wasteful spending across all ad platforms.

7. Optimize Keywords By Device

In addition to location and intent, optimizing web pages for different devices is also critical.

I created an ad campaign targeting “roof repair” in the Dallas metro area in the example below.

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optimizing web pages for different devices is also criticaImage from Google Keyword Planner, April 2022optimizing web pages for different devices is also critica

Not so surprisingly, most of these searches occur on mobile devices and are most likely done as “near me” searches.

Based on this evidence, optimizing landing pages for mobile devices, inserting a click-to-call CTA, curating a strong brand presence on local directories, and optimizing the Google Business Profile (previously Google My Business) with clear contact information will net the most conversions for most ad campaigns.

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Bonus Tip: Understanding which device users search for products allows you to target users on those devices with retargeting ad-based campaigns across social media and other websites.

8. Search For Keywords By Groups

Advertisers mostly use this strategy, but it provides a rich information resource for SEOs and content marketers.

By searching for keywords in Grouped View, instead of Keyword View, Google organizes keywords directly for you by category.

For example, by using the seed phrase “homemade kombucha” and “best kombucha,” you can see the number of keywords and topic ideas generated with two simple keywords.

Google organizes keywords directly for you by category.Image from Google Keyword Planner, April 2022Google organizes keywords directly for you by category.

By grouping these keywords by category, you could create page-specific content for each group, utilizing each keyword in the group to help optimize your content.

Bonus Tip: If you notice up top, Google provides relevant keyword and topic ideas to expand your marketing efforts further.

9. For the Ads – Remember To Bid On Branded Keywords

Finally, one converting strategy for advertisers is if you’ve run out of keyword ideas, consider bidding on the branded keywords and redirecting user searches to your website.

You can use this strategy genuinely if you sell brand-name products on your website, such as Nike shoes, if you sell apparel, or if you want to gain more clicks for your own branded keywords.

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There are several advantages to bidding on branded keywords, including:

  • Taking up more SERP real estate.
  • Lower costs (for the actual business brand).
  • Higher CTRs (especially if it’s your brand).
  • Gain greater data about user intent and on-page metrics.
  • Build exposure for your brand.

Bonus Tip: You could also bid on competitors’ keywords to be competitive. While this strategy is not foolproof, sometimes it’s a good way to steal away traffic and clicks from competitors.

However, this plan could always backfire, and your competitor could do the same to you.

Google’s Keyword Planner is free to use with a Google Ads account and provides users with most of the tools needed to start keyword research and begin a multi-faceted digital campaign.

Furthermore, what Keyword Planner lacks in functionality can be made up for in third-party tools and a bit of creativity.

More resources: 


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SEO

How Should You Optimize Your Content?

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How Should You Optimize Your Content?

People turn to Google for just about everything these days.

Whether it’s to buy something, learn about something in-depth, get a quick answer, or simply pass the time, Google is the primary stream of information for the vast majority of people living with an internet connection.

To be precise, Google makes up 92.19% of the search engine market share.

The constant quest of SEO professionals is to get their content matched up with the search queries it answers.

But how has this task changed over time?

While there can be books written on this subject, the general consensus is that search queries are becoming longer, more specific, and conversational.

In many cases, a portion of this shift can likely be attributed to the rise of voice search.

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A lot of what we are seeing is a growing importance on optimizing for questions and semantically related keywords.

So what exactly does this all mean?

And what are the best strategies when you’re down in the trenches of SEO?

Let’s discuss.

Questions & Semantic Search

Since the Google Hummingbird Update in 2013, Google has been on a steady path toward providing more personalized and useful search results.

You know when you enter a super vague query into Google and it somehow understands exactly what you’re getting at? Like when you are speaking to a close friend or family member?

This is semantic search.

A big aspect of Google’s semantic search capability is to pinpoint concepts and entities presented in question-based queries.

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When someone enters a question into Google – whether it be by text or voice – the semantic search capabilities work to understand the user’s intent with four key factors:

  • The user context.
  • Natural language processing (NLP).
  • Query stream context.
  • Entity identification.

What Types of Questions Does Google Answer?

Thanks to semantic search, Google has taken many steps toward a near-flawless ability to answer a plethora of questions. This is largely due to the developments in artificial intelligence, voice search, schema, NLP, etc.

Google generally answers three types of questions – as opposed to just providing links to the sites with the answers.

  • Direct answers
  • Short answers
  • Long answers

These answers are commonly placed in the Featured Snippet – also known as the “Google Answer Box” or “Position Zero.”

Let’s breakdown the specifics of each.

Direct Answer

Direct answer questions typically start with Who, What, Where, When, Best, Top, and sometimes Why.

These types of questions normally result in quick answers and are oftentimes linked to voice queries.

For example, if you enter a query like [When was Apple founded?], Google will use Hummingbird and semantic search to recognize the user intent to provide a direct answer. This answer would be April 1, 1976.

When was Apple Founded

Based on what Google’s algorithms decide is the most reliable source of information, the search engine will pull the answer from the content and display it in the Featured Snippet.

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Short Answer

Short answer questions generally start with words like Why and Can. But, given the context, they can also apply to What, Where, Who, etc.

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These types of questions can generally be answered in a paragraph, of which is shown on the Featured Snippet.

Let’s ask Google [Why does the sun follow a circular path?]

Why does the sun follow a circular path?

Again, Google’s algorithms will decide which content has the most credible answer here (based on numerous factors), and provide the answer in the Featured Snippet accordingly.

Let’s do another one.

Here’s a query for “Can fish feel pain?”

Can fish feel pain?

As you can see, Google has provided a 4-5-line answer – drawing from the content it sees as the most credible.

Long Answer

The long answer queries typically get more into the weeds of procedures and processes.

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Most commonly, these long answers are matched up with How and Why queries.

Google only has so much space to work with in the Featured Snippet; it can’t list out an entire procedure from A to Z. Instead, it has to abbreviate with an outline.

For example, let’s search for [How to build a treehouse].

How to build a treehouse?

The intent of this question is to get a better understanding of what all factors into the process of building a treehouse. The intent is more or less surface level.

As a result, Google’s algorithms serve up the step-by-step process involved in this project. To get more in-depth, the user needs to click on the link.

Other common examples of long answer snippets relate to how-to guides, recipes, workout routines, etc.

Which Types of Answers Do You Provide?

Everyone wants to get their content proudly placed in the Featured Snippet (or somewhere prominent on Page 1).

Given how much real estate this answer box takes up on Google searches, the potential benefits of taking the spotlight here are huge!

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In order to get placed in the Google Answer Box, you first need to have a strong idea of which type of answer your particular piece of content provides, and which keywords attribute to it.

For instance, this online tire store recently published an article around the keyword “best tire brands” – optimized for the question, “what are the best tire brands?”

Best tire brands

If we look at the Featured Snippet for this query, we see a list of tire brands outlined in the content under H2 tags.

In addition to drawing traffic, the content provides avenues for the user to actually purchase the products.

With each piece of content you create, you should be asking, “what types of questions does this content answer?”

This should be an integral part of how you formulate the outline, as well as how it will funnel into the bigger picture (like generating conversions).

How to Pinpoint Trending Questions & Keywords

In the process of figuring out which type of answer(s) is ideal for your content, you need to identify the trending questions being asked and the search volumes behind them.

One tool you could use is the Ahrefs Questions feature in the keyword explorer.

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By entering in your focus keyword, you can get a big list of related questions to be factored into how you create the content.

In this hypothetical scenario, let’s say you are creating a piece of content for a CRM software.

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Let’s look at the questions related to the keyword “CRM Software.”

CRM Software

Given what we found here, there are all kinds of questions to frame a piece of content around.

Now, a long, comprehensive piece of content could potentially work to answer all three major question types. However, for our purposes, we are going to focus on one.

Let’s say we want to create a piece of content that answers the short answer question [What does CRM software do].

What does CRM software do?

Now that we have the question, let’s look into the keywords that funnel into this answer.

What does CRM software do?

Think about it from a user’s standpoint who is at the beginning of the buyer’s journey.

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If someone wants to simply learn more about CRM software and what it does, what informational keywords and phrases would factor into the search?

Based on the keyword research above, this would likely involve terms and phrases like:

  • What is CRM
  • Customer relationship management
  • CRM meaning
  • CRM definition
  • CRM examples
  • Customer relationship
  • Relationship management

These are just a handful of the informational keywords and phrases that would ideally work to answer the overarching question.

Now, if there is transactional intent within this content, you are wise to include the following terms/phrases:

  • Best CRM
  • Best CRM tools
  • Best CRM for small business
  • CRM solutions
  • CRM pricing

When it comes to optimizing for questions and keywords, you need to have an idea of the users’ knowledge prior to looking at the content, what answers they want, and what they should do after consuming the content.

Ultimately, this forms the basis for how you conduct SEO research.

Ranking for Direct Answer Questions

Getting ranked for direct answer questions can be tough.

As with most SEO tactics, there are no laws, just theories.

Based on what we’ve found, getting ranked highly for direct answer questions involves the following common threads:

Get to the Point

Answer the question as early as possible within the content. If you can, try to do this in the first paragraph.

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List the Question Right out of the Gate

This helps Google tag your content appropriately.

Elaborate

After you answer the question bluntly, elaborate on it in the subsequent paragraphs. This helps to show Google that you are answering the question comprehensively.

Go the Extra Mile

This would commonly involve answering typical follow-up questions.

For instance, if you answered the question, “What is a lunar eclipse?” you could also include answers to questions like, “How often do lunar eclipses happen?” or “What is the difference between a lunar eclipse and a solar eclipse?”

You want to show Google that you know the answer in as much detail as possible so you are seen as an expert source of information.

Ranking for Short Answer Questions

Getting ranked for short answer questions has a lot of similarities to the process of getting ranked for direct answer questions.

Much of what we’ve observed comes down to the formatting of the content.

Here are a couple of the biggest patterns we’ve noticed:

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Make the Language Super Easy to Read

Don’t produce a wall of text; break it up into paragraphs no more than 3-4 lines long. Also, try not to use an extensive amount of business jargon.

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Keep in mind, a lot of short answer questions are from people at the beginning of the customer journey – they are simply looking for more information, not to be overwhelmed.

Integrate Questions into Your Header Tags

This should ideally look like a Q&A format.

For instance, the question, “What does a CRM software do?” could be an H2 tag near the beginning of the post which the subsequent content would then answer.

Ranking for Long Answer Questions

Ranking for long answer questions normally requires quite a few factors based on the depth of the content.

On a side note: If a topic could be better answered with a more visual piece of content, Google will probably serve a video. For example, if you search Google for [How to wash pillows] you are going to be met with a video.

How to wash pillows?

So, if you answer these types of long answer questions, you are smart to focus on a video strategy.

Back to getting ranked highly on long answer queries, we have found several patterns in how content ranks.

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Keep the Main Title Focused on the Question

You want your content to appear to be the most relevant to Google.

If you are working to answer the question of “how to create a content plan,” your content should (in some capacity) reflect this in the title.

How to create a content plan?

Provide a Step-By-Step Format

Headings in content created for these types of queries often times have certain steps outlined.

Here’s what comes up for the question, [how to do SEO audit].

How to do SEO audit?

If you look at the content written by Ahrefs, you’ll notice the header tags in the piece correspond directly with the steps listed in the Featured Snippet.

Use Images

Images make your content more user-friendly and engaging – two things that Google loves!

We’ve found that the best-performing content uses imagery to supplement the points being made and provide a more complete answer.

Link out to Reputable Sites

Google wants to reward sites that provide the most credible information, based on the search query.

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What makes credible information?

Credible sources.

For example, if you are writing a post on “how to buy a used car,” linking out to reputable auto websites like Consumer Reports, Edmonds, Cars.com, etc. would (ideally) add credibility to your piece.

Wrapping Up

It’s important to note that every situation is a little bit different and the process of optimizing content is not always apples-to-apples.

However, it’s clear that the SEO landscape has been shifting towards long-tail keywords and questions for some time now.

If you want to get your content ranked well (and stand a chance at getting placed in the featured snippet), you need to factor these into your content strategy.

Hopefully, this post has given you a good idea of where to start.

More Resources:

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Image Credits

Featured Image: Created by author, August 2019
In-Post Image: SEMrush

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