Key Differences Between Google Adwords Tool And The Keyword Planner

Ryan Dube 19-08-2013

If you’ve logged into your Google Adwords account lately and attempted to use the Adwords keyword research tool, then you’ve probably seen the recent alert message at the top of your account notifying you that the Keyword Tool will no longer be available within the next few months. Instead, it’s being replaced with what Google has deemed the “Keyword Planner”.


The warning message seems a bit ominous, and reactions across the Internet are a bit mixed. Some folks have erroneously claimed that local traffic data has “disappeared”, while others say that the new interface makes the search process much more intuitive. In reality, there isn’t really enough that’s different in the new Google Keyword Planner to justify giving it a brand new name. On the other hand, there are a few cool new features that are worth mentioning.

The key differences between Google Adwords Keyword Tool and Keyword Planner includes a more organized workflow for researching adwords and keywords, a clearer presentation of data, quick access to some nice historical graphs, and the ability to download historical data in spreadsheet form. In this article, I’ll show you each of these new or different features and how you can make use of them in your own keyword or adwords research.

Understanding the Google Keyword Planner

To notice the differences between the two, it’s important to understand how the Google Adwords Tool worked. We’ve covered the Adwords Keyword Tool 7 Free Tools to Get the Best Keywords for Your Site How do you know which are the best keywords? Use these awesome free keyword tools to find high ranking keywords. Read More in the past here at MUO, mostly because it’s one of the few keyword research tools online that’s both free and accurate. Given that it’s offered by Google itself, beginners at SEO know they can trust the data, and that the data is straightforward and easy to understand. This is even more the case with the Keyword Planner.

Another Look at the Keyword Tool

The old Keyword Tool provided a few fields for you to launch your keyword research. That included any word or phrase (or list of them), your website or a competitor website URL, or a category.
The research tool also let you filter your search by country or language, as well as a few other simple logic filters, like keywords with monthly searches above or below a certain level.



The breakdown of traffic for each keyword phrase related to your search phrase was listed along with competition, global and local monthly search volumes.


For each individual related phrase, you had a dropdown available to do an actual Google Search on the term or use Google Insights directly from inside the tool.



There was also the feature to add or remove a decent list of columns for further information, like CPC data, ad share, search share, and much more.


Then, of course, you could conduct keyword research analysis on either your own site URL or a competitor URL to see the keyword data for well-paying, high traffic keyword phrases for the site.



Don’t forget of course that the keyword tool had the “beta” Ad group ideas” tab available as well, where you could see keyword phrases grouped into larger, generic “ad groups” you could save to your Adwords account in bulk, rather than add single keyword phrases one at a time.


Taking a Closer Look at the Keyword Planner

The Keyword Planner starts out on a page that is far simpler than the Keyword Research tool. At first glance, it looks like the entire tool has transformed into something different, but that’s not the case at all. This is simply an intro page to make the “planner” more like a research Wizard that steps you through the research process. You have three options to start-off your research — individual keyword searches using multiple parameters; researching ad performance for phrases; or upload multiple keyword lists.



However, when you look at the search form inside of the Keyword Planner, you’ll notice that it’s nearly identical to the original with only subtle differences in wording and the placement of a few search customization features. You’ll notice you can set keyword filters and other targeting filters (e.g.location, languages, negative keywords etc.) right here in the initial stage, rather than doing them later like in the old Keyword Tool.


Search results are also a lot more informative in the Keyword Planner, but at the same time they’re much simpler. The only search volume column is the average monthly search volume. Then you’ve got the competition level, average CPC (which is also more accurate than the Keyword Tool was), and a very cool graph icon that’ll show you historical performance of each term.


This is a pretty sweet feature. It lets you hover your mouse over each chart icon quickly to get a fast snapshot of the search trend over the last few months. This is tremendously useful because before the Keyword Planner, it took a little bit more work to gather the same data and historical search trends. Alternatively, you’d  need to “jump outside” to tools like Google Trends.


The Ad Group tab is also very similar to the old keyword tool. Again the columns are fewer but much more accurate and clearly defined. Another nice change is that the ad group and the list of keywords are in separate columns, and hovering over the keyword row  shows you the entire list of keyword phrases within that ad group in a pop-up. This wasn’t entirely obvious or easy to access in the old tool.
Finally, while there are some folks that lament the fact that the new Keyword Planner lacks a local search trend column. It is good to know that you can actually focus your search based on location, right down to the city level.


This filter will change the average monthly searches column to reflect just the local search data. The local search volume was essentially redundant, and it’s clear Google recognized this and corrected it.

On the keyword list results page, you’ll see the ability to easily download the historical statistics in CSV format like the old tool, but you can also download search volume segmented by month.


I suspect that not everyone will like the Keyword Planner as much as I do. For a lot of people, change is annoying and difficult to go through, especially when you’ve gotten used to how a particular tool works. The good news is that the Keyword Planner is similar enough to the Keyword Tool, and there’s essentially little to no learning curve to switch over. The benefits in simplicity and the additional data available is definitely well worth switching over early.

Have you switched to using the Keyword Planner yet? Do you like it? Do you hate it? Share your own thoughts in the comments section below!

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  1. Vatsal
    September 12, 2013 at 5:24 am

    Maybe, this is the reason?


    In general, you'll notice that the average search volume data is higher in Keyword Planner as compared to the exact match search volume data you got with Keyword Tool. That's because we'll show you the average number of searches for a keyword idea on all devices (desktop and laptop computers, tablets, and mobile phones). With Keyword Tool, we showed you average search volume for desktop and laptop computers by default.

  2. Andrew
    August 20, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    Thanks for the post, Ryan. I have noticed a huge discrepancy between the search figures of the original key word tool and the new key word planner. Do you know why this is?

    • Shafiq
      September 2, 2013 at 1:57 pm

      I agree with Andrew ... I'd like to know the reason behind this too.