Google Didn’t Want Us To Use The Keyword Planner This Way. But It Works Nicely.

Just practicing my Upworthy titles. Did it make you click? Now that you’re here, we’ll look at what I’m talking about in a moment.

But first let’s set the scene as to why and when you’d want to use keyword planner in such unorthodox manners…

It’s 2:30 on a Friday.

Your client’s keyword and topic ideas are due at 4pm. Plus, your coworkers are having beers at 3:30 and you don’t want to can’t miss out on that.

But that’s besides the point.

This is a new client. They’re in a complicated industry, with lots of weird words and jargon. You’re just getting started with the research and don’t know anything. And there’s NO TIME to waste.

And worse, the “boss” at your client’s company who knows the most about their industry is not available to ask questions – you might picture him or her all like;

And even worse than that– you don’t know what you don’t know. How many times have you been working on SEO in an industry for months – and you’re still discovering new keywords?

And very often you feel all like:

cat meme final frontier

Grumpy space cat is grumpy – lost in a land of keyword void.

You Ask Yourself: Do Keywords Matter…

(….enough to miss beer o clock?)

No. Yes! They do matter.

That’s when I Intervene.

And I look all like:

keyword research muscle man

Maybe it’s the big “KW” on my chest or my stunning sales technique, but you decide to let me show you some fast ways to uncover keywords. Let’s go!!

So What’s This Crazy Way Of Using Keyword Planner You Made Me Click For?

Total exploitation of the “landing pages” search function. Yep – the ability to enter a landing page instead of keywords to get keyword ideas.

Real fast before we get to the good stuff, we need to set up the concept of the tool. Hop on over to the KW Planner and here’s where you can find it;

planner

Click on “new ideas” and you’ll see the landing page box option;

where to enter landing page

This landing page tool in keyword planner is primarily designed for when you have created a landing page, and you want to place ads to get paid traffic to that page specifically.

For example here I’ve entered www.anthropologie.com’s homepage;

anthropologie in keyword planner

Based upon the results “high heel shoes” etc Google understands the content of the site AND I have keywords to target for that homepage and domain. Ok, got it?

But there’s a lot more you can do.

Why just “stick to the rules” with what you’re supposed to do with this tool? Let’s look at some MORE ways to use it for keyword discovery.

Unintended Way #1. Put Wikipedia Pages In The Keyword Planner

I LOVE exploiting wikipedia for data and information. Why not? It’s the largest source of information on the planet organized by topics and keywords within a hierarchy. And Google relies heavily on Wikipedia for the Knowledge Graph.

a) Search Your Industry Term In Google

I would suggest by starting with your main keyword or industry and searching it in Google to get the highest ranking Wiki page – I’ll use “cellular repeaters” throughout this first example (have a client in that space right now);

search results for cellular repeater

The reason I do this is because I’m sure there are many various pages related to this topic, but we want the one Google considers the best match.

b) Enter The Wiki URL In AdWord Planner

cellular repeater kw planner results

You’ll notice there may be a LOT of results, and this list isn’t particularly useful right away. So we’re going to use some filters.

c) Use Filters To Refine Your List

I often hear people say that “AdWords sucks for keyword discovery”. While it’s true this isn’t the only tool you should use by a long shot,  most people probably don’t squeeze everything out of it they could either.

The list we got for the Wiki page on “cellular repeaters” was fairly large. Setting filters in the tools digs up MORE keywords. You may notice if you start using filters, the number of results may not go lower, until you start getting really tight with the filters. This means the filters are requiring the tool to dig deeper into the keyword database for suggestions.

Let’s say we want high volume AND high transaction potential keywords. (Hat tip to Ross Hudgens for first suggesting the idea to me of looking at CPC for how much a keyword is could be “worth” for SEO)

kw planner filters

The filters here are asking for high volume AND higher bids. It’s going to refine our list of words and present keywords which may receive more traffic and also potentially monetize better;

keywords sorted by volume

We could also filter by high volume but LESS transactional (more informational)

filters in kw planner tool

Again, we’re going for a tightly filtered list to really dig up a nice short list to give you ideas. (You are exporting and saving all of your ideas for later right? To then combine the lists, and de-dup them for analysis?)

09-filter-more

So if you’re still seeing a few hundred results, there’s room to filter more. Here’s a nice filtered list I arrived at;

nice filtered list

With the recent addition of Google’s knowledge answer boxes, I’m especially on a lookout for these sorts of keywords. I spotted “what is a signal booster?”

google answer card result

Not only is this a keyword I may think about building a page around, it also turned up another Wikipedia page to run through the landing page tool.

d) Find Pages Linking To Wiki Page With OSE

No reason to stop there! There’s probably lots of high authority, information rich pages that have linked to the wiki page;

top linking page to wikipedia page

In this case it’s an article from MIT;

screenshot of mit article

Check out the topics from this MIT article;

kw planner results for MIT article

Click for a bigger view. Wow! There are some nice topic ideas here. If I had a website selling cellular extension products, I might write about;

  • cell phones in the classroom (nice cultural / education tie in)
  • cell phone tower trees (the design of cell towers)
  • find cell towers (how to find them)
  • cell phone towers cancer (health implications)

I want to stop here and remind people. Keywords are a bridge to understanding the psychology of the searchers. They’re a window into the mind of your potential site user. I’m not saying we would choose “find cell towers” and solely use that as a singular keyword target. We would use that as a springboard to further content ideas and research.

But the point is, we discovered this topic idea in about 5-10 minutes, in a complex industry, in which we had no prior knowledge. THAT’S the benefit of this process.

e) OSE To Get Other Closely Related Wiki Pages

Why stop at that one Wiki page? I suggest using Open Site Explorer to find other popular wiki pages which link to your seed wiki page by “filtering internal” in OSE;

filter internal in ose

Now we have a list of the highest authority wikipedia pages linking to our seed page – go run those through the keyword planner too!

Unintended Way #2. Put Your Competitors In Keyword Planner

I especially love this for prospecting new clients. It’s one of the fastest ways of judging the competition in an industry.

Your competitors have already done a lot of the work right? They’ve possible researched keywords, designed pages and targeted them. I suggest finding competitors with higher authority sites than yours as there will be the most data.

godiva in the kw planner

As noted above, this list is decent, but use those filters to keep refining to dig up words the tool might not present right away;

too many results

In this case we had to get super specific with the filtering to trim down the list;

super filtered

This turned up some good stuff like “fathers day desserts” and “pre filled easter baskets” – things that may have not turned up. We’ve also set AdWords competition to “low” and although this doesn’t automatically mean low SEO competition, it could.

results of filtering in kw planner

Unintended Way #3. Put Pinterest Search Results In Keyword Planner

Before we look at Pinterest, I just want to stop and point out. For all of the examples, the key is finding sites that are;

  • highly authoritative
  • organize information well by topics
  • are rich in information

Despite Pinterest being heavily visually oriented, I still found that it returned results with the tool;

pinterest page in kw planner

Play with your filters and we’re getting some good ideas for “art”;

filters in art search kw planner

Unintended Way #4. Put Reddit Topics In The Keyword Planner

Obviously this may work better with certain topics, but I had some luck with education;

reddit page in kw planner

Unintended Way #5. Put Industry Conference Topic Pages In The Keyword Planner

I LOVE using conference websites for topic discovery, especially in newer or fast evolving industries like anything in tech, marketing, entrepreneurship etc. Just search for some conference pages, find the topics/sessions page and drop that into the keyword planner – I tried this for “human resources”;

40-conferences

Unintended Way #6. Put Industry Forum Topics Into Keyword Planner

Other huge places of authority and topic categorization are industry forums. Note that Google recently dropped the discussion search function – so the best way to find industry forums are [keyword] + discussion forum;

33-dis-forum-search

The once you’ve found a good high trafficked one, drop that in the keyword planner;

forums in kw planner

Unintended Way #7. Put Dmoz Categories In Keyword Planner

I like Dmoz because it is very well structured by topics and sub-topics.

3

Find your topic page in there and drop that into the keyword planner;

dmoz topics in kw planner

One thing I want to point out. The keyword does NOT have to be on the “landing page” for it to return in the tool. As you can see by the “foam roller” results (which is no where on the Dmoz page) – yet a “foam roller” is a very common piece of equipment for pilates.

Unintended Way #8. Put Freebase Categories Into Keyword Planner

Besides Wikipedia, Freebase is likely the largest source of data related to their Knowledge Graph. It is therefore likely a powerful source of research, even for keywords and topics;

freebase page in kw planner

The “architect” category page gives us lots of ideas like “house plans” and “home design” – this isn’t a filtered search, so likely a lot to be discovered if we start digging.

Still Need More Keyword Discovery Ideas?

By now you should be well on your way to finishing your client’s report AND that cold beer. Want some more for next week? Check out my slides from SMX where I talked about 17 more ways to discover keywords!

What other landing pages can you think to drop in the Keyword Planner?

Put your ideas in the comments and examples of what you discovered.

PS – shout out to Josh Bachynski who was the first I heard suggest using the keyword planner landing page tool for these sort of “out of the box” purposes.

Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author, and not necessarily the views of Caphyon, its staff, or its partners.

Editor's Note: This post was originally published in February 2014 and has been updated for accuracy.

Author: Dan Shure

Since starting his company Evolving SEO in 2010, Dan has worked with startups, eCommerce sites, bloggers, affiliates, small businesses to large companies and everything in between. He shared his experience on his own blog and others and spoke at several industry events such as SMX East in New York. His SEO expertise is with on-site technical SEO, WordPress, site architecture and content. Dan is also a Moz Associate, where he answers questions in the Moz Community, contributes to the Moz blog, presents webinars and also spoke at a Mozcation Portsmouth.

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81 thoughts on “Google Didn’t Want Us To Use The Keyword Planner This Way. But It Works Nicely.”

  1. Hey Dan, this is one great piece of content. I appreciate that very much! I am pretty sure that I can find some great keywords and content ideas off of that!

  2. This is an awesome post by one of my favorite SEO’s. While reading this, I had a few ideas to add. Here are some other url’s you can drop into GKP to get amazing insights!

    Any Google+ community
    Any internal site search results page.
    – Example) I went to tech crunch and searched for “seo”, then took the url of the results page and threw it into GKP. Awesome!
    Alltop search results (or other aggregate sites)

  3. You used to be able to put the URL for the Google search query results page in that tool and get the kws for the first page of the SERP. I tried it recently and it spit out gibberish, anyone else remember that trick or have had success with it lately?

  4. Good stuff, Dan. Nice logical extension of the KW planner. I’ve used several of those ideas in the past year, but you’ve given me a couple more that I can put to use. And wow, you’re such a muscle-man! 😉

  5. Thanks for the great ideas. I always use the competitions url and Wikipedia, but never thought about combining it with OSE and the knowledge graph data sources.

  6. Awesome article, Dan!

    I can’t believe that I haven’t thought at adding Wikipedia and Pinterest pages in the Keyword Planner.

    I’ve been successfully using it for competitor pages, but not Wikipedia, Pinterest or the other sources you mentioned.

    Also, I think its worth mentioning using negative keywords to filter keyword ideas that are not related with the topic we are researching. I get those a lot.

    Anyway, this is such a huge time saver. Thanks for that!

    1. Definitely, negative keywords can get it to dog more – and of course I didn’t get into location or language much in this either

  7. Wow, Dan, this ROCKS.

    I’ll admit that the BuzzFeed headline drew me in. But you actually backed the headline up with fresh stuff I hadn’t seen before (I had 5+ “Why didn’t I think of that?” moments). Happily sharing this on Twitter, inbound.org and G+ right now 🙂

    1. Ha thanks Brian, yeah I hoped people got that the title was a little tough in cheek with all of those titles going around now. Glad the post was helpful and really appreciate the shares 🙂

  8. I remember one of the most useful parts of the Keyword Tool was the ability to use competitor URLs to quickly dig up keywords for our newer clients. I thought the Keyword Planner had done away with that but apparently not!

  9. Dan, I don’t know if you are trying to write blog posts on subjects and tactics I need right this very moment, but I’d be ok if you kept doing it! This is the second one in as many weeks I’ll be able to walk through step-by-step for two different clients.

    While everyone uses the Keyword Planner – and I’ve tried to get keyword ideas from competitor(s) sites along with other authoritative external domains – I never would’ve thought to filter the data set and continue to really drill down. Looking forward to pitching a variety of different content ideas as well as learning about some of our clients’ industries.

    Awesome work.

  10. Hi Dan,

    Awesome article. I’ve been using the tool for a while to look at competitors, however you really opened my eyes to some other fantastic uses that will definitely help in the keyword planning phase.

  11. Absolutely love this post! Never thought Keyword Planner – so seemingly well studied tool – has any unexpected uses! A special thanks for the slideshare link;)

  12. Came across this post yesterday and am going through it already this morning. Uncovering some good opportunities in nice and systematic fashion.

    Great post!

  13. Wow, I just used #1 idea about Wikipedia. It saved me hours of work (and yes, it’s Friday when I write that comment).

    Thanks, you have some great hacker ideas about keyword research 😀

  14. At first, I doubted that if this article is gonna be yet another version of an old trick backed with an over-hyped title.

    But when i got to the meaty part, everything changed.

    This is an awesome post, and you know it. 🙂 Right?

  15. Hi Dan! Thanks for this eye-opening article. I’m not a techy, but I have a website/blog that I’m trying to grow. I don’t sell anything (at least not yet), & based on the searches I did per this article, I’m thinking I picked a low-interest topic to write about!! I found a few ideas, though, but overall, I feel a bit dismayed. My blog topic is cryptozoology. (visitcryptoville.com) Is there anything else I could do to rev up the number of readers (besides working hard on the content)? Thanks! … Susan

    1. Sure thing;

      – Diversify traffic sources. You’re looking at volumes for organic search I assume, but traffic can (and should) come from other places.
      — Find the people who would be interested in your blog on social and online communities and interact there. Build a small but passionate group of followers who will read and help amplify your content. Where is this audience? It could be facebook or Pinterest or maybe niche forums. Anything visual or video.
      — Are you an expert in this topic? (I looks like it). Can you get interviewed on podcasts and video shows?

      – What adjacent topics do you write about that are more popular? I see a post about ghosts and paranormal activity. I’d start there, I bet there’s TONS of volume and rabbit holes to explore.

      – I also see things like vampires and bigfoot. If we’re following this keyword research process;
      — find the wiki pages on vampires etc – drop those in keyword planner.
      — find vampire forums or conferences and drop those in kw planner
      — so focus on the specific animals names

      – Take the books you’re reading and drop their names or author names in http://www.ubersuggest.org – look for subtopics around the books or authors that people are looking for and look for content gaps there.

      Hope that helps a little 🙂

  16. What’s the hangup with drinking beer? I just don’t get why it’s such a fixation.

    Otherwise, the keyword research ideas you shared seem really legit. I’ll give them a try. Thanks for sharing.

  17. Very informative and creative solution to keyword research. Thanks for an excellent collection of ideas and new approaches to finding good keywords!! And yes – the title is Upworthy!

  18. Dan, very interesting article. I was never think to use keywords planner like this. It make my content marketing easy. Now i can easily find the good keywords by using keywords planners.

  19. This was such a great read and really opened my mind to some of the potential that Keyword Planner can unlock! Holy heck! So awesome.

  20. I don’t know you but
    I
    LOVE
    YOU.

    This is the BEST thing I have read in a year of trying to get the keyword planner to be useful to me.
    I was just figuring out how to use the keyword tool when the switcharoo happened and techniques I was shown have not been updated and any tool I tired was trying to shoehorn the new format into their existing software.

    I am so happy that I am a bit teary.
    Thank you!!!!

  21. Great introduction to getting out for a beer which everyone should be able to relate to. The intro entertained and then the tips kept me very interested. Excellent advice on keyword planning. Thanks

  22. Dan! I love the different ideas of what to throw into the landing page option! Pinterest has been gold for me 🙂 P.S. Ever tried throwing your own name into the KW Planner? Fun at minimum and actually insightful when it comes to analyzing your own rep on the big G

    1. I have done that. At times it interestingly came back with “search engine optimization” etc – which I think it a good thing 🙂

  23. I am a CEO, not an SEO, and even I could understand this and present a logical discussion with my marketing team about trying this. Thanks and good work!

  24. Thanks for this eye-opening post, Dan. We are just getting started with SEO for our new website, which is in a niche market and our business concept is new to our industry (dancesportplace.com). Our first searches using your techniques are giving a lot of general and broad terms and very small numbers of results (no filter needs to slim down the list! )

    This is probably a dumb question, but continuing on with your scenario, after you give this insightful list to your clients and hit happy hour with your colleagues, what does your client do with this list of words/phrases? Is it just to know how to spend advertising dollars on adWords, or do they somehow put those words/phrase on their website? Thanks again for turning on some mental light bulbs! Melissa

    1. Hi Melissa – Great question. This is one thing that honestly even tripped me up when I was first learning.

      Once you have a keyword, then it’s like you almost have to backtrack to a purpose. Some keywords I assign to content ideas (for things like articles, blog posts). Other keywords I might match to pages that already exist on a client’s site – now we just have a way to track ranking for specific pages.

      Some keywords are more product/service/transactional in nature, and for those we may be sure there are pages that exist on the site that target those (not going spammy or overboard of course).

      So I do deliver keyword docs, but the real use I find is in matching them to certain other goals.

  25. Great Post, an eye opener, never used Keyword Planner this way, I suppose its good for SEO also, create a optimized page and test it in planner “if its returning the keyword family you intended to target” Kudos …. if not, rework on the content part.

    Anyways post opened doors to many hidden possibilities. Thanks for sharing these ideas.

  26. thank you for this descriptive information. Having gone through it, the Adwords keywords tool is not providing any option for phrase search and exact search.
    Any other tool to find phrase keywords ?

    Thanks

  27. I find a lot of keyword research ideas that I never think before. But in your process, it seems you don’t see at “volume search” as one keyword choosing indicator? Of course, we want so many visitors to visit our web, and I don’t see it in your explanation.

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