How to Get Phrase & Broad Match Traffic Data Back from Google Keyword Planner


One of the biggest complaints about Google’s Keyword Planner – the new keyword tool that replaced the old Google Keyword Tool and Traffic Estimator – is the lack of broad and phrase match traffic support. Contrary to what’s being suggested when you use the Google Keyword Planner, Google will only return exact match traffic.

Today I’ll be showing a few tricks to help you get your phrase and broad match traffic data back.

What Google Says About Search Volume in Keyword Planner

Google suggests entering your keywords with standard match type formatting to get volume based on keyword match type:

Google Keyword Planner Broken

Naturally, an SEO would try all three formats for the same keyword, to compare the traffic volume data:

Keyword Planner Match Type Data

Here are the results you see on Google Keyword Planner for the three match type variations:

Keyword Planner Issues

And this is what you actually get when you download the data:

Keyword Planner Export

What just happened?

Google is treating all three searches as exact match searches. Furthermore, they’ve added the three exact match traffic numbers together, as AdWords is creating an ad group traffic estimate. Yes, an ad group of 3 exact match keywords. This is probably a bug.

Here’s Google’s definition of Avg. monthly searches (emphasis mine):

“The average number of times people have searched for this exact keyword based on the targeting settings that you’ve selected.

About the number: We calculate the 12-month average of the number of searches for this exact keyword based on the location and Search Network targeting settings that you’ve selected (not including your language setting) ….

Note: If we don’t have enough data, you’ll see a dash (-). Average monthly searches don’t take into account the keyword match types you’ve selected. To see the traffic for different match types, look at your click and cost estimates on the review page.”

TL;DR: Google takes your broad and phrase match keyword searches and changes them to exact match. As you can see the “average monthly searches” for the three match types are the same number, and Google recommends that you run an AdWords estimate to find out traffic for different match types.

3 Ways to Estimate Broad Match and Phrase Match Keyword Volume

Fortunately, exact match is the foundation match type to phrase match and broad match, so it’s possible to reconstruct both. Here are three ways to do it. When looking at preliminary keyword opportunities and trends, I prefer method #1.

Method #1: Estimating Match Type Traffic by AdWords Impressions Traffic Estimate

traffic estimator

Let’s imagine you’re Google. An advertiser comes to you and tells you that they’ll give you $1 million dollars per click on their ad for a given keyword. That advertiser has an unlimited PPC budget. Where would you put the ad if you were in Google’s shoes?

You would always put that ad on the first page of SERPs for their given keyword – and that’s exactly how we’re using the Keyword Planner to extrapolate phrase or broad match traffic. AdWords’ daily estimate of maximum impressions is the closest thing to an organic search on your keyword.

In the example above, “google keyword planner” on phrase match would have an estimate traffic volume of 102.86*365/12 = 3,129 searches a month.

Disclaimer: A search query happens before an ad impression, but it’s possible for a single query to have multiple impressions of the same ad. Your results will also vary depending on which day you run your test, since many AdWords statistics change on a daily basis.

Method #2: Look at the Impressions & Impression Share Report

For those who share the sentiment that Google’s keyword tool was never accurate to begin with, you’re free to test method #1 with an actual AdWords ad of the keyword you’re doing research on. To make this work, you’ll want to make sure your daily budget is set high enough, ad scheduling is turned off, and location targeting is consistent with your keyword research purpose. After a day or month of data collection, depending on how accurate you want your estimates to be, you’ll be able to extrapolate keyword search volume with the following formula:

(Impressions/Search Impression Share) / (1 – Search Lost IS (rank))

Keyword Planner Impressions

Disclaimer: The image above is just for illustrative purposes and was not an actual test on the keyword “google keyword planner.” Also, it’s expected that this estimate will be inflated compared to actual keyword search volume.

Method #3: Keyword Scraping

Last (and maybe least), you can reconstruct phrase match with multiple exact match queries. A simple keyword tool like ubbersuggest or ScrapeBox will give you enough keyword variations to dump into the Keyword Planner (or other keyword tool of your choice). Be wary of duplicate keywords as Google will double count!

AdWords Keyword Planner

All that’s left is to get the search volume!

Google Keyword Planner

Disclaimer: The margin of error increases greatly using this method as Google will “round” for each keyword you put in. This method seems to result in a higher “phrase match” estimate, but I would argue that the Keyword Planner doesn’t capture the long tail.

My Conclusions

There’s no perfect keyword tool out there in the market, and neither is there a perfect substitute for Google’s phrase and broad match. For a quick estimate, using AdWords traffic estimates is one of the best free methods out there to estimate keyword traffic. To get really precise about actual keyword traffic, you’ll have to invest in some money and time and dabble in AdWords. To truly assess the categorical value of a keyword, you’ll have to really bust out the keyword tools.

So get out there and start testing which method works best for you!

Warning: As of 10/16/2013 4:50PM EST we noticed that Google updated their search volume estimates for the keyword “google keyword planner” –  your numbers will vary from ours because Google updated its data! Special thanks to @LauraLeeSEO from WebMD for checking my sanity.

Victor Pan is WordStream's resident search samurai. When he's not busy gathering and analyzing web data, he's legitimately practicing the way of the sword, kendo.


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Lisa Angelettie
Oct 17, 2013

A lot of mistakes have been made by site owners who relied on phrase and broad match information from Google to make keyword decisions - so I happen to like that they only return exact match results. Having said that -- it's good to have this information just in case I may need it for some reason.

Victor Pan
Oct 17, 2013

One of the most useful insight I'd get out of Google's old keyword tool was the keyword match ratio. You can really tell if a keyword had a lot of long tail opportunities or not in a glance!You may find this useful when you're planning to build an ad campaign (PPC) or group of content under the same keyword cateogry (SEO).

Callistus Agbasielo
Oct 17, 2013


Oct 19, 2013

That's great. Very useful step by step information. The website owner has make us understand that how we can use keyword planner more efficient way. Thanks :) Keep Posting..

Victor Pan
Oct 21, 2013

Thanks :) We'll keep posting, but you might want to be careful about using your brand name with a no followed link in the comment section. 

Oct 20, 2013

Great post guy's. Shame it doesn't make me happy....However exact match is best. The variances could have been picked up before in Google Analytics.....whooops they just took that option away with 'not provided'!CheersVirginia 

Victor Pan
Oct 21, 2013

Looks like it's time for another blog post on the internet about "not provided"Don't worry Virginia, that's what I'll cover next - why good SEO has always been the solution right under our nose for "not provided"Cheers,Victor

Yunus Khan
Oct 22, 2013

i like google these tools and very most important thanks for u share this information ...

Oct 22, 2013

Verry Informative.Thanks

Oct 23, 2013

Good article! Very well done and useful. Google keyword tool was one of the best keyword research tools available. 

Oct 26, 2013

Thanks Victor Pain,Thanks for the heads up!I indeed landed on your page because of  huge spendding on Ads and little or no sugnificant traffic so to say!So thanks. This is an Eye opener for me

Oct 28, 2013

I'm pretty sad they changed it... keyword research just got harder to do, less information, more digging, less accurate etc.

Neeraj Kulkarni
Oct 29, 2013

It is rather confusing now with the new keyword tool which is integrated into the adwords planner. Obviously they did not wanted to keep the free keyword tool free anymore. But the earlier version was much better to get an exact targeted people to promote our offers to. Well, lets hope for some changes and updates to the present keyword planner for integration of something similar to the earlier version.Thanks.

Anonymous K
Oct 31, 2013

Thanks for the write-up.  I just started using the new keyword tool today and it seems like the volume is really low.  I even tested some popular searches and it was rate to find some terms that broke more than 1m searches per month, which seems very low.In your example above is the monthly volume reallly 8,700 searches per month or 8,700,000 searches?Thanks

Nov 09, 2013

Why is it that when I run a volume search the numbers are so incredibly low?E.g. In the Washington D.C. metro region (where 5.5 million people live) the term 'anxiety' supposedly only gets 1,600 searches per month.The terms 'anxiety alternative treatment' and 'anxiety natural treatment' only get 10 searches per month, supposedly.This cannot possibly be correct.Can you tell me what is wrong or who I need to speak to, to get clear on this?Do these numbers stand for 1,000 (in other words, 'anxiety' actually gets 1,600,000 searches per month? 

Victor Pan
Nov 13, 2013

Hi Chris,By default, the new keyword tool from Google, the Keyword Planner, will give you the exact match traffic for the keywords you've mentioned. If you've been working on keyword research with the old tool without making adjustments to the match type filter, by default the old keyword tool provides broad match traffic estimates.Broad match traffic estimates will always be greater than exact match - and hence to get that old number back, I've provided several hacks :)

Nov 26, 2013

Good article! Very well done and useful. Search engines keyword and key phrase device was one of the best market and keyword and key phrase analysis resources available.

Joel Siddall
Dec 18, 2013

Great article thank you for sharing.

Haseeb Ahmd
Dec 25, 2013

This is very helpful for me.

Jan 11, 2014

Very informative thank you as I was wondering about where the exact match was now, as before in the older version you could select thisd or borad match on the drop down menu link

Jan 28, 2014

Great post! I am hugely disappointed with the keyword tool update as it no more shows the exact search volume. It differs with many other tools.

May 17, 2014

Hi Victor,Very well explained article about exact match keyword. I was used to GKT and with GKP I was wondering wherethe exact match keyword was. Thank you for your article now I know what happned. Thank you for taking the time to write the article, very much appreciated. 

Nov 09, 2014

Cool.. Interesting thesis . I want to know one thing .please if you help me to give reply about it then it will be very helpful.  My Question - Which system may will be very  effective  for my article keyword , bold style or italic ? Becuase i have used too many subheading in bold style so if i use the main keyword in bold then will be it any wrong ?   

Oct 22, 2015

Today max bid is 896€ (US$ 1,000 I guess).

Sep 11, 2016

Method #1 doesn't work so well anymore, since google doesn't let you put in such a high bid...

Pembicara Internet Marketing
Nov 09, 2016

I agree with you that keyword analyze is very important for us and also being a part of our search engine optimization ( SEO ) process. But Recently the Google Keyword Planner is not shows the exact search volume anymore (they give us a range number as the result), what I want to ask here is : Do you know some other tools or websites to give us the exact search volume?

Feb 09, 2017

Article is very informative and useful find keywords

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