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Google keyword planner – More precise data in the search volume despite the update

For a long time, the Google AdWords Keyword Planner was the first contact point for keyword research for many online marketers. In August, Google released important changes in the tool, which will influence the output of search volumes.

The reasons Google named for the adjustments to the tool were primarily the protection from bots and other services. These services would abuse the intended use and the optimization of advertising campaigns, as reported by searchengineland.com.

740x400-200x200-keywordplanner-02 SEO Google Keyword Planner

Grouped keywords and imprecise data

For AdWords accounts with little or no active campaign budget, the data in the Keyword Planner are strictly limited. In these cases, one only receives grouped data in the search volume per keyword. Because of this, the research for keywords that are searched for most frequently becomes very difficult, if not impossible even.

Similar spellings and keyword variations are now summarized in the output. The grouped data of search volumes per keyword is thereby divided into the following counting methods:

1 – 100
100 – 1,000
1.00 – 10,000
10,000 – 100,000
100,000 – 1 million
1 million +

Additionally, the number of search queries in the tool is limited for advertisers with a small budget.

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Figure 1: Google AdWords Keyword Planner

It is not known at what point one is considered a "big spender" and can see the data in its original form. Google itself does not provide any information on the budget needed for an account to have these services activated.

This is how to receive exact data in the search volume nevertheless:

Despite the limited data output, there is a possibility to obtain more exact data in the search volume of the individual keywords and keyword variations.

1. Find search terms with the Keyword Planner

To do this, one can enter the respective terms into the Keyword Planner just as before.

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Figure 2: Searching for data in the Google Keyword Planner

2. Add keywords to the plan

In this next step, the keywords that are relevant for the research are added to the plan. To do this, click the blue arrow to the right of the respective search term.

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Figure 3: Adding keywords to the plan

Once all the necessary keywords are added to the plan, click on the "Review plan" button to obtain a more precise data output.

3. Retrieve prognoses

Now, you can calculate and retrieve the prognoses for the selected keywords in the tool. To do this, it is necessary to enter an arbitrary bid, then set the time period to "Monthly prognoses", and change the keyword options to "Exact match".

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Figure 4: Retrieve prognoses

4. Query impressions

The results one now receives are the estimated impressions for the selected keywords in the Google search. These impressions refer to a calculation for potential Google Adwords advertisements relating to the respective search terms.

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Figure 5: Calculating impressions per keyword

Additionally, the estimated number of clicks that these advertisements could obtain is provided as well as the calculated click-through rate (CTR). The impressions offer information on how many users would receive this result on the first page of the Google search results for the respective search term. From this, more precise information in the search volumes for the keywords could be extracted.

Example: “Image Editor”

According to the new display of the data in the Google Adwords Keyword Planner, approximately 10,000 to 100,000 users per month search for the term "Image Editor" or a very similar term of the same subject such as the plural form. These data are useless for an analysis or research, because they are too imprecise to compare with other search terms or to make any conclusions about search behavior.

According to the prognosis, the estimated impressions on page 1 of the Google search amount to 11,934. This clearly shows that, in a grouped search volume of 10,000 to 100,000, the keyword "Image Editor" only claims a fractional amount for itself.

If you were to compare this data with another grouped keyword, such as "photo editor", then the difference becomes even more distinct:

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Figure 6: Grouped search volumes in the Keyword Planner

In this image, a much larger grouped search volume is shown for the term “photo editor”. However, the impressions for both terms show that the more common search word for users is still “Image Editor”.

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Figure 7: Comparing impressions in the Keyword Planner

In this case, the impressions for the term "Image Editor" amount to the quadruple amount of the impressions for the term "photo editor". Therefore, the word "photo editor" claims only a minimal proportion of the keyword group for which a search volume of 100,000 to 1 million was calculated in the Keyword Planner.


Because of the new update, the data in the search volumes or the competition in the Google AdWords Keyword Planner have become useless to accounts without a large budget. The keywords are grouped according to similarity and subject, as is their data. Therefore, it is necessary to carry out the searches and analyses in an even more granular way to receive more exact data. Especially when choosing the right keywords, these changes to the Keyword Planner can lead to serious errors in the selection of terms.

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Published on Oct 18, 2016 by Editorial Team