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How to Use Google’s AdWords Keyword Planner for Free

By: Joyce Chou   January 29, 2018

Once upon a time, Google gave the public easy access to its AdWords Keyword Planner.

As a free tool, the Keyword Planner helps cash-strapped businesses get started on keyword research, an essential part of making quality content. Though intended for AdWords advertisers, it provides data such as historical trends and keyword suggestions for online marketers and advertisers alike. In addition, it analyzes costs-per-click information to reveal just how tough the competition is for a certain keyword.

These days, Google unfortunately prompts users for ad campaign and credit card information before granting access to the Keyword Planner. It’s an unfriendly process that hinders keyword research for marketers not actively running an AdWords campaign.

Here’s a little secret, though:

You can still access the Keyword Planner without running an AdWords campaign.

Although Google’s misleading interface insists that you run an active campaign in order to access the tool, there’s a quick and easy workaround. Follow our three-step guide to learn how to use Google AdWords for free.

Step 1: Go to Google AdWords.

First, navigate to Google AdWords.

Google keyword planner signup

Hold your horses — don’t enter your email address or website!

Step 2: Skip Google AdWords’ guided setup.

Once you’re on the AdWords page, do not click “Continue” — doing so will take you to the campaign setup process, for which there is no back button. If this happens, you’ll need to restart the process with another email address.

Instead, click “Skip the guided setup.”

Google skip the guided setup

Do NOT click “Continue.”

You’ll then be directed to the campaign dashboard.

Step 3: Find “Keyword Planner” on the AdWords dashboard.

To access the Keyword Planner, click on the wrench icon in the dashboard’s upper right corner.

Google dashboard wrench

Question: Why did Google make it so unclear that skipping the setup process would grant you access to the tool for free? Answer: Cold hard cash

From there, you’ll find “Keyword Planner” listed as the first option under the “Planning” heading. Click on this to move on.

Google Keyword Planner dashboard

You’re almost there!

And voila! You’ve made it to the Keyword Planner’s landing page, where you can begin your keyword research.

Google Keyword Planner

Congratulations — you’ve made it to the Keyword Planner!

Note that our walkthrough only covers how to access Keyword Planner for free. To learn how to make the most of it, check out Google’s handy guide.

Know any other tricks for using Keyword Planner? Let us know with a comment below!

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