How to: Keep Using Google AdWords Keyword Tool for Free Keyword Research

I’ve tried a ton of keyword research products out there…and none have been so helpful or as straightforward as the Google AdWords Keyword Tool.

A free SEO option, it’s a great tool for DIYers and entrepreneurs alike. It’s one I often recommend for those business owners interested in learning what their target market is searching for online, acquiring new ideas, and much more.

It’s also a tool that I use regularly myself, in conjunction with others; regardless of whether I’m running an organic campaign or a paid search campaign.

I’ve been using this tool for years now. Recently, however, Google AdWords has reported that you must have an active account with them to acquire keyword data. However, like many things, there is a work around here.

Log into Google

Start using the Google AdWords Keyword Tool by going here.

If you currently do not have a Google account, you’ll need to create one when prompted. Then, if you do not currently have a Google AdWords account, you’ll need to create one when prompted.


You’ll be redirected to the Google AdWords homepage, so now you’ll need to go back here now.

Click “Find keywords.”

find keywords

Then enter your keywords or a website. (You can add up to 3 keywords and phrases here.)

find keywords 2

From here, you’ll be presented with a list of related or similar keywords based on actual searches from Google.


Simply click the checkbox on the left hand side to add the keyword or phrase to your list. Feel free to exclude adult ideas (the blue link in the center of the page), and you can also use negative keywords here. Negative keywords are those you don’t want populating in your list. (As an example, I often exclude “free” as a keyword.)

Click “download keyword ideas” at the top center-right once you’ve finished adding all your keywords. Then your list will be exported into a spreadsheet, similar to the one below.


The list above is fairly self-explanatory, but here’s a quick description of each column:

  • Keyword: your keyword or phrase
  • Currency: the type of currency for estimated bid amounts
  • Average monthly searches: not applicable in this example, instead we are given a range…
  • Minimum search volume: average minimum searches for given keyword in geographic area you determined (if you did not enter one, you’ll be given National data) based on your timeline given
  • Maximum search volume: average maximum searches for given keyword in geographic area you determined based on your timeline given
  • Competition: Low, Medium, or High competition – based on AdWords competition for the keyword
  • Top of page bid (low range): minimum bid amount for a #1 AdWords listing
  • Top of page bid (high range): maximum bid amount for a #1 AdWords listing

Use the “old” Keywords Tool

I’ve always preferred the original AdWords – prior to the current version, that is. Come the new Google Ads later this month, the old version may be gone for good. However, we can still enjoy it for the time being.

Start by going to the AdWords homepage. Then click on tool icon in the top right hand side of the window, then on “Return to previous AdWords.”

return to previous adwords

Then from here, you’ll be redirected back to the older version of Google AdWords. Click “search for new keywords…”

old keyword planner

Enter your keywords or website URL, similar to before.

old keywords 2

From here, you can add keywords to your heart’s content. You’ll add keywords to your plan by clicking on the arrows on the right of them.

old keywords 3

Once complete, you’ll download from the righthand side by clicking on the arrow pointing down.

review plan

Then click “Download,” then “Save file.”

Once exported, you’ll see the data is slightly different than the newer version of AdWords.

spreadsheet 2

Here are the meaning for each column in the old keyword tool:

  • Keyword: the keyword or phrase
  • Keyword type: by default, your keywords are “broad match,” but can be altered as you are creating your list
  • Average monthly searches: average monthly searches for given keyword in geographic area you determined (if you did not enter one, you’ll be given National data)
  • Competition: a score between 0 and 1 (0 being low competition and 1 being high competition) based on current AdWords competition for the keyword
  • Suggested bid: Google’s suggested bid amount, should you use this data for an AdWords campaign

And there you have it: your ultimate guide to using the Google AdWords Keyword Tool. Comment below and let me know how you liked using this to optimize your website or build AdWords campaigns!

Want to learn more about “longtail keywords” and how you can use them to your advantage? Check out this post!

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