And so the sun is setting on the Google Keyword Tool and Traffic Estimator. But, with every sundown comes the dawn of a new day, enter, the Keyword Planner.

Promised to be an amalgamation of the Keyword Tool and Traffic Estimator, Google is continuing to offer marketeers a free tool for finding new keywords and ad group ideas, viewing performance estimates and assessing bid and budget levels.

The bad news, you will need an AdWords account to use Keyword Planner. The good news, AdWords accounts are free and you don’t need to set up any ads to get going with the tool.

So what’s changed? Here are the four main changes to be aware of:

1) Match type

One of the biggest differences is that keyword ideas and search volumes are now based on exact match. Previously, with Keyword Tool, results were based on broad match by default with users also being able to select phrase or exact match. This immediately provides users with a better understanding of how many people are searching for specific terms.

It is still possible to see volumes by match type however by adding keywords to ‘Your Keyword Plan’, where you can save ideas before creating or adding to a campaign.

2) Improved search volume estimates

Until the current tools have been fully phased out it is likely you will see discrepancies between search volumes on Keyword Planner vs. Keyword Tool for keywords on exact match. The Keyword Planner includes search volumes across all devices, whereas the Keyword Tool only shows exact match volume for desktop and laptop by default. With tablet and mobile search increasing significantly it’s a welcome change.

Keyword Planner - Screenshot

3) Goodbye local and global searches

Hello average monthly searches. Local and global searches have been replaced with one column that shows the average monthly searches based on your targeting settings. You’ll still be able to download monthly searches across the past 12 months, or alternatively can hover for a quick snapshot.

4) Accurate cost per click estimates

The ‘Approximate CPC’ column has been replaced with ‘Average CPC’ and, in theory, should provide you with a better idea of the actual cost you are likely to pay. The costs are based on the average of the keywords bids across all ad positions for the selected targeting settings.

All in all Keyword Planner should provide you with a more accurate overview of search volumes and related terms for your AdWords campaigns.

But what does this mean for SEO? Watch this space, we’ll be adding another post soon about how to use Google Keyword Planner for SEO.