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Google's Keyword Planner

Google Keyword Planner is one of the most used tool for SEO and SEM when it comes to keyword research and optimisation. Sandberg staff might be asked to use it to carry out this type of project and this is a quick guide on how to use it. Note that Keyword Planner tends to be updated fairly often so the screenshots on this wiki page may not reflect all the most recent changes.

For a good visual walkthrough and rundown of the main functionality, we recommend watching the following tutorial: https://youtu.be/Nre320QDSb4 (duration 32:09).

You can also refer to Google's own documentation about the tool here: https://support.google.com/google-ads/answer/7337243?hl=en&ref_topic=10549743.

Creating a Google Ads account

In order to access the tool, you need a Google Ads account. Creating this account is free, the only thing you need is a Google account (if you have a Gmail address, you already have one). Freelance translators might already have an account tied to their personal Google account and certain clients might specifically give us access to their own company accounts and ask us to use those details. If you are an in-houser translator or a PM, you can create a separate dummy account for this purpose, if you don't want to use your personal Google account.

The instructions below assume that you are making account for test purposes and want to avoid filling out any payment information details.

  • To create the account, go to https://ads.google.com/ and click Sign in in the corner.
  • On the next page, select the option to create a new Google Ads account.
  • Next, you will get a range of questions. Ignore them, scroll down a bit, and click the Switch to expert mode link instead.

  • On the next page that opens, click the link at the bottom that says Create an account without a campaign.

  • On the next page that asks for payment information, instead of entering your information, click Cancel. You should end up on a page titled New campaign. Instead of choosing any of the presented options, close the view page from the X in the upper left-hand corner. If you can't immediately see the X, try editing and then cancelling the payment information dialog again, until it appears.

  • Now, you are finally on the Overview page that shows a summary of your current and past campaigns.

Accessing Keyword Planner

To access Keyword Planner from the Overview page, go to Tools and Settings > The Keyword Planner. There might be some variation in what the menu UI looks like:


On the next screen, you have two options for what to do: Discover new keywords and Get information about search volumes and forecasts. Both options are explained briefly below. The best way to familiarise yourself with the functionality is simply to test it out yourself and have a look at the different menus and options available to you.

Discover new keywords

Discover new keywords is the option to choose when you want to specifically research new potential keywords. Clicking this option opens the below screen where you can choose from Start with keywords and Start with a website. You can tweak the results and search conditions further after this initial starting point.

In the example below we assume that you use some keywords as your starting point. Type in your keywords (up to 10 individual keywords) in the field and press Enter after each one to add them in the list. Pay special attention to the language and location selection: these should reflect the target audience, in other words the people who are doing web searches using your keywords. If you are not entirely sure who the target audience or location is, always check the project brief or with the client. For example, if you are researching keywords in Swedish, should the location cover both Sweden and Finland or just Sweden?

When you're done, click Get results to get started on your research.

This now opens the below view with information about the keywords you started with but also a long list of suggestions for new keywords, based on the initial keywords you entered. The information you see here for each keyword is about the average monthly search volume, how much competition the keyword has (in other words, how popular that specific keyword is), and a price range. You can click the column headers to sort the information based on the different parameters.

Note: If you are only using a dummy account for test purposes where you haven't entered any payment information, you will see a bracket such as "100-1000 searches" for the search volume. Although this might be detailed enough for some cases, you should make sure you understand exactly the type of information and the level of detail the client is asking you to research for their project. You can access information such as the accurate number of monthly searches and the way the search volume has changed over time by having a fully-fledged GoogleAds account with verified payment information.

You can further refine your keyword search with the options available:

  • At the top, you can edit your choice of language, location, search engines you are focusing on, and the time period you are looking at. By default, you are looking at the previous 12 months, but there might be cases where the client requests something else.

  • Clicking Add filters let's you to specify things like negative keywords (in other words, terms or parts of keywords that you definitely do not want to be included), the level of competition you want to focus on, the price range etc.
  • You can expand your search with the suggested additional keywords at the top
  • You can use the Fine-tune your keywords options to exclude or include keywords containing trademarks

Get information about search volumes and forecasts

This function allows you to look into the searchability and volume information for one or more keywords. You can either type your keywords into the field or upload a list of keywords in CSV or XLSX format, if your client has one. It can be especially useful when trying to optimise existing keywords to see which ones need more work.