Search Engine Optimization with Google Keyword Planner

Set Up Keyword Planner

More than ever before, consumers are turning to the Internet to search for a new home. Nowhere is this more apparent than Google, where housing related searches have nearly tripled over the last five years. Not surprisingly, all of this real estate-related traffic has led to fierce competition among agents, firms, and listing portals for top spots in search engine rankings. Consequently, if you’re hoping to come out on top and get found by consumers who are interested in what you’re selling, you need to create content that targets the terms they’re searching. That means performing extensive research on popular and winnable keywords for your market. Whether you’re interested in search ads, or simply want to improve your organic rankings, one of the best tools for keyword research is Google’s AdWords Keyword Planner.

Sign Up for Google AdWords

Even if you don’t plan on using your keywords to create ads, you’ll still need a Google AdWords account to use the Keyword Planner.

Part 1:Register

  1. Join AdWords. Head to Click “Start now.”
  2. Enter your details. Enter your email address, along with the URL of your real estate website. (If you’re not using a Google account, you’ll need to create one on the next screen.)
  3. Access the Keyword Planner. Click “Tools” at the top of the page to access the Keyword Planner.

Part 2:Ignore traffic forecasts

The AdWords Keyword Planner is actually four tools in one. Since we’re focusing on developing a keyword list for SEO purposes, we’ll skip “Get traffic forecasts for a list of keywords,” an ad-focused option, and concentrate on the other three tools.

Search for New Keyword and Ad Group Ideas

This tool will help you find new keyword ideas by generating suggestions that are closely related based on a few initial phrases, along with some other criteria.

Part 1:Enter your starting keywords

Start by typing in a couple phrases to use as a starting point for your research, separated by commas. While the Keyword Planner suggests using a general service keyword (“flowers or used cars”), you’ll get better ideas by choosing more specific phrases.

BonusUse Google Analytics to find starting keyword ideas

Not sure what keywords to start with? If you have Google Analytics, you can use your existing traffic to find keywords that are already producing results.

In your Google Analytics reporting panel, go to Acquisition > Campaigns > Organic Keywords for a list of the most popular keywords visitors are using to reach your site from Google. You’ll notice that the top keyword by far is (not provided): Google has stopped providing organic keyword data for searchers on secure connections. Nevertheless, you can still get some great ideas from your other keywords.

Part 3:Add your landing page (optional)

As an optional step, enter your website address to receive suggestions for keywords that match your existing site content. You can also enter the URL of a different page that you’re interested in driving traffic to — say, your blog, or your listing search page.

Part 4:Add your product category

Type in “real estate” to see a list of options, then select the category that best represents your business. You can choose “Real Estate” to start, or go with something more specific, like “Real Estate Listings” or “Real Estate Agents and Brokerages.” For added insight, try the same search with different categories.

Part 5:Add targeting

Here, you can further refine your the Keyword Planner’s suggestions according to a few factors.

  1. Location: Since real estate is a local business, you’ll definitely want to target your keywords to the areas you serve. Type your city in the field provided, and select it from the list. Click “Nearby” to bring up a map and a list of surrounding locations. You can search by city or county and see their areas outlined on Google maps. The more locations you add, the more locally targeted your keywords will be. (Note: if the Keyword Planner lists “United States” as one of your targeted locations, be sure to remove it — otherwise, your local results will be mixed in with less useful national results.)
  2. Language: Use this option to see keyword suggestions for specific languages. This can be useful if you serve a significant ethnic community or population.
  3. Limit your suggestions to Google search, or select “Google and search partners” to include other Google search sites like Maps, along with Google search partner sites (i.e., sites that partner with Google to show ads).
  4. Negative keywords: Use this targeting option to eliminate keyword suggestions that aren’t relevant to your business. For instance, if you deal primarily in commercial real estate and want to eliminate ideas related to residential real estate, you might consider adding “residential” to your negative keyword list. See Google’s support article on negative keywords for more information.

Part 6:Set date range

Enter a date range to see average monthly searches for that time period. You can also toggle the Compare switch to see stats for the previous period, or the same date range from last year. By default, the Keyword Planner offers results for the past year.

Part 7:Select keyword options

By default, the Keyword Planner suggests keywords that are broadly related to the phrases you’ve entered. If you want to restrict your ideas a bit more, choose “Only show ideas closely related to my search terms.”

Once you’ve completed the form, click “Get Ideas” to see your suggestions. (For instructions on reading and interpreting your Keyword Planner results page, head to Task 5.)

Multiply Keyword Lists to Get New Keyword Ideas

If you’re interested in a more free-form brainstorming approach to keyword research, the keyword multiplier can help. This tool takes groups of keywords and combines them to create hundreds of new phrases.

Part 1:List One

In the first list, enter industry keywords: real estate, homes, apartments, etc.

Part 2:List Two

In the second list, enter geographic keywords for the locations you serve: columbus, downtown columbus, franklin county, etc.

Part 3:List Three

Click the x to add a third list, then enter additional product and service keywords: commercial, foreclosure, luxury, etc.

Part 4:Add targeting

As before, select geographical locations to target.

Once you’ve completed the keyword multiplier form, click “Get search volume” (not “Get forecasts”) to see your keyword combinations.

Get Search Volume for a List of Keywords

If you already have a spreadsheet or list of keywords, this tool can give you insight on how popular and competitive those keywords are.

Part 1:Enter your keyword list

Paste your keyword list into the search volume tool. You can enter keywords one per line, or separate them by commas.

Alternatively, if you have a keyword list saved in Excel or another spreadsheet application, you can upload it directly to the Keyword Planner by converting it to a comma separated values (CSV) file.

Part 2:Add targeting

Again, select geographical locations to target.

Part 3:Set date range

As before, enter a date range to see average monthly searches for that time period.

Once you’ve completed the form, click “Get search volume” to see your results.

View Keyword Planner Results

Each of the Keyword Planner’s tools will take you to the same results page.

Part 1:Ad groups and keyword ideas

The keyword planner offers two tabs with different views of your suggested keywords.

  • Ad groups: The default tab, this displays your keyword ideas as sets of similar and related terms. While they’re primarily intended for use with AdWords, ad groups can be extremely useful for categorizing your keyword ideas into lists that correspond to the different services and niches your business caters to.See Google’s support article on ad groups for more information.
  • Keyword ideas: This is a list of all your individual keyword suggestions. You’ll see stats on the keywords you entered initially in a separate table at the top. Your suggested keywords are automatically organized by relevance, but you can also sort according to other metrics by clicking the column titles.

Part 2:Search volume trends graph

At the top of your results, you’ll see a graph of average monthly search statistics for your initial keywords for the date range and locations you’ve specified. This will show you, for instance, whether the keyword is increasing in popularity, or has a seasonal spike in searches. You can also use the dropdown menu to view mobile trends, breakdown by device, and breakdown by location.

Part 3:Avg. monthly searches

This is an estimate of the number of times an exact keyword was searched each month over the date range and in the locations you’ve specified. As a bonus, you can also see a bar graph of monthly searches for each suggested keyword by hovering over the graph icon next to the search count.

Part 4:Competition

You’ll see three competition levels: high, medium, and low. Competition is determined by the number of advertisers bidding on each keyword relative to all keywords across Google. The higher the competition, the more you’ll have to pay per click in order to get that ad in front of your audience. Again, this data is specific to the locations and targeting options you’ve selected.

Part 5:Suggested bid

This is the estimated cost-per-click Google recommends you bid on a keyword as part of an AdWords campaign, as determined by the average amount other advertisers in your area are paying. Since we’re using the Keyword Planner for organic SEO, you won’t actually be doing any bidding. However, the suggested bid is another way of visualizing how competitive a keyword will be.

Part 6:Refining your results

As you explore Keyword Planner’s suggestions, you’ll want to hone your results by modifying your search. You can use the side panel on the results page to adjust your targeting, date range, and filters. To change your initial search terms or switch between the Keyword Planner tools, select “Modify search” in the top right corner. In general, you should look for keywords that are targeted at a specific audience and strike a balance between traffic, competition, and average bid.

For more tips on building an effective list of keywords, check out Google’s support article.

Save Your Results

Once you have a list of keyword suggestions and ad groups you like, you can save them for later by clicking the “Download” button located just below the keyword graph.

Part 1:Segmentation

Check this box if you’re interested in seeing detailed monthly statistics for all your keyword ideas. Note that this will create a much longer and more in-depth keyword report.

Part 2:Choose your file format

If you’re interested in saving your report for use in a future AdWords campaign, you can make it easier to import by saving it in the AdWords Editor CSV format. Otherwise, just save it as an Excel CSV file.

Part 3:Choose your destination

Check this box to save your keyword list to your Google Drive account, or leave blank if you want to save it to your computer.

Part 4:Save your report

When you’ve chosen your settings, click Download to prepare your report.
For more tips on keyword strategy and building keyword lists, check out these resources from Google: