Google’s long-serving Keyword Tool has now been replaced with the new Keyword Planner. This has received mixed reviews across the board, but there are some core features of the Planner that far exceed the capabilities of its predecessor. Exploring the pros and cons, it is clear that some vast improvements have been made, but it is also equally clear that visibility has been lost.

The first key difference is that you now need to be logged into an AdWords account to use the Keyword Planner, making the service exclusive to Google product users.

When first using the Keyword Planner, I must admit that I didn’t much take to it. The top level avg. monthly searches remain constant across different match types (based on exact match volumes), meaning that like-for-like comparisons are difficult to make at a quick glance. Google states that the update to the Keyword Planner takes the overlap of broad and phrase match keywords into consideration, essentially meaning that data is now more accurate. The match types themselves are all hidden away under the ‘edit pencil’ to the right of the screen. You have to add them to the planner and review before you can edit to see the same keyword in other match types.

Another negative is that you can no longer look at metrics based on device targeting, seeing as campaigns are now all ‘enhanced’ by default. There is said to be an update in progress by Google to allow more visibility on this.

However, the magic begins to take effect when you go to review mode. Entering a top level bid, you can begin to see the daily estimates to the top right of the screen in addition to specific estimated metrics for each keyword. Essentially, forecasting for PPC keywords is made simpler and can all be downloaded and edited as necessary.

The top level graph also has a bid slider on it to project what would happen should you increase bids. This visualisation can help advertisers and clients to imagine the impact of increased bids on clicks, impressions or daily cost.

For organic search, however, the Keyword Planner received a backlash on Twitter. Along with Google Analytics now showing increased amounts of ‘not provided’, the change in keyword research has been described as a hindrance on a various industry blogs.

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