International keyword targeting

A guide to expanding and refining your international keyword lists

1 Overview

The challenge

It can be difficult to identify keywords when advertising in new markets without understanding local search behaviour, culture and language.

Your aim

To find out how to expand and refine your keyword list to reach new customers abroad.

How to go about it

Keyword Planner is a free tool from Google that can help you build new keywords lists, or expand existing ones. It’s a great resource for any business looking to create international campaigns to expand into new markets.

Keyword Planner makes it simple to determine keyword volumes and competition levels across many countries. It can help you correlate search volumes with on-site conversion rates, bounce rates, time on site and return visits, and easily determine the highest performing keywords for future search ad campaigns. Keyword Planner will also generate a list of keyword ideas for any country or language you choose, with the associated monthly volume for each. Here’s how you can use keyword planner to put together successful international campaigns:

With Keyword Planner, you can:

  • Research additional keywords — when you’re looking for additional keywords to add to an existing campaign, it’s easy to get keyword and ad group ideas based on terms relevant to your product or service, landing page, or different product categories.

  • Get historical statistics and traffic forecasts — statistics (like search volume) can help you decide which keywords to use for a new or existing campaign. Forecasts (like predicted clicks and estimated conversions) will give you a rough idea of how a list of keywords might perform for a given bid and budget. They can also help guide your decision on which bids and budgets to set.


Dedicate an individual campaign to an individual language. The best way to reach people who speak a particular language, is to use keywords, ads and landing pages all written in their language.

In the following chapters, we’ll cover how to use Keyword Planner to lay the groundwork for a successful campaign.

2 Search for new keywords using a phrase, website, or category

Keyword Planner generates the best keywords for your new market, which can then be expanded on over time. For example, you might use Keyword Planner to find more specific keywords — called long-tail keywords — that don't have a high search volume, but are often more likely to lead to a conversion.

Long-tail keywords are more specific 3-5 word phrases that searchers use when they’re honing in on a purchase. For example, say someone starts searching for the term ‘dining chair’. After visiting various websites, looking at styles and comparison shopping, they might begin to narrow down their choices and searching for ‘Eames style contemporary dining chair’.

How to find keywords to target

Use your Google Ads account to sign in to Keyword Planner.

  • Keyword Planner sits under the tools tab of the Google Ads homepage
  • Type or paste one or more of the following in the 'Find new keywords' search box and press 'Enter' after each one:
    • Words or phrases that describe your product or service
    • The URL of a page on your website or your entire website
  • Click ‘Get started’ to get keyword ideas
  • Review or download keywords from the plan overview tab

  • Click Get Ideas

  • Review your keywords from the ad group ideas tab (which you'll see by default) or the keyword ideas tab

Add ideas

To add more keywords to an ad group, click on the ad group, and then check the box for the keyword you’d like to add and click ‘Add to plan’.

Remove ideas

To remove a keyword in an ad group, go to the keywords tab, click the ad group, and then the X next to the keyword you want to remove. To remove an entire ad group, go to the ad groups tab and click the X next to that ad group.

Change bid range

Adjust the range of max CPC bids to get click and cost estimates for the keywords in your plan.

3 Get forecasts and historical data

If you already have a keyword list, you can get an idea of how popular they have been by looking at search volume statistics. You can also group your keywords into ad groups.

How to do it

Use your Google Ads account to sign in to Keyword Planner.

  • Click ‘Get metrics and forecasts for your keywords’
  • In the 'Get metrics and forecasts for your keywords' search box, enter or paste a list of keywords, separated by commas or line breaks. Note that these keywords won't be added to any of the existing campaigns in your account

  • Click ‘Get started’ to see your forecasts
  • To see historical statistics, like average monthly searches or competition data, go to the historical metrics tab at the top of the page


When calculating traffic forecasts, we’ll only take the keyword match types into account if they’re used with keywords. For example, adding a keyword as exact match will show you forecasts related to how that keyword might perform as an exact match keyword.

4 Multiply keyword lists to get new keywords

Save the time of manually combining keywords by multiplying two or more lists of keywords. Then, get historical statistics or traffic forecasts for the new list of combined keywords.

For example, you're advertising a chain of luxury resorts. You might have one keyword list of geographical locations and a second list of keywords that describe your resorts as follows:

Keyword list 1 Keyword list 2
Mexico luxury resort
Cabo hotels
Cancun beach resort

We'll combine the keywords from both lists to create new keyword phrases, like Cabo hotels or Mexico luxury resort. Then, you can get traffic forecasts or historical statistics for these new keywords.

How to do it

Use your Google Ads account to sign in to Keyword Planner.

  • Click Multiply keyword lists to get new keywords
  • In the List 1 box, enter your keywords, one per line or separated by commas. In the List 2 box, enter a different list of keywords that you want to combine with List 1. Again, enter these keywords one per line or separated by commas. To multiply more than two lists, click the X to add more boxes
  • Click Get forecasts to get traffic forecasts, like predicted clicks or impressions, for your combined keyword phrases. Or, click Get search volume to get historical statistics, like monthly search volume or competition data, for your combined keyword phrases

5 Understanding keyword forecasts

If you already have a list of keywords, you can also enter those keywords manually or upload them as a CSV file to get click and cost forecasts specific to your Google Ads account and the bid that you’ve selected.

How to do it

Use your Google Ads account to sign in to Keyword Planner.


The number of clicks the ad might receive each day if the keyword was to trigger it.

Impression (Impr.)

How often the ad might appear in a day. An impression is counted each time the ad is shown on a search results page.

Ad impression share

The number of impressions that the ad’s received divided by the total number of searches for the location and network that you’re targeting that matched the keyword exactly in the last calendar month. Bear in mind that the ad impression share column in Keyword Planner is different from the impression share and exact match impression share columns in campaign management. They are based on the number of impressions that you were eligible to receive for a keyword. In Keyword Planner, ad impression share is based on the search volume for that exact keyword. When you see a dash (–) in the ad impression share column, this means that we don’t have enough data to calculate this number.

Average position (Avg. Pos.)

The average position on a search results page that your ad might appear in when the keyword triggers the ad to show. '1' is the highest position on the first page of search results. Keywords with an average position of 1—8 generally trigger ads on the first page of search results, while keywords with an average position of 9—16 generally trigger ads on the second page, and so on. An average position of '1.7', for example, means your ad usually appears in positions 1 or 2. Average positions are not fixed; they may vary depending on various performance factors.


The average amount that you might spend per day for this keyword.

Click-through rate (CTR)

The ratio of the number of clicks that your ad received divided by the number of times your ad is shown (which we call an impression).

Average cost per click (Avg. CPC)

The average amount you might pay for a click. We automatically adjust the final amount you're charged for a click, which is known as your actual cost per click (actual CPC), so you only pay one cent more than the minimum amount required to keep your ad's position. Therefore, the displayed amount may be lower than the overall cost forecast range for all keywords, or the CPC bid already in place for your ad group.

Conversions (All conv.)

An estimate of the total number of conversions you might get for these keywords. We use your historical estimated total conversion rate as a default, but you can edit this.

Average cost per acquisition (Est. avg. CPA)

The predicted cost divided by the number of conversions you might get.

Total conversion value (Total conv. value)

The total value of all of the conversions expected for these keywords. We use your historical average conversion value as your default, but you can edit it.

Return on ad spend (ROAS)

The total conversion value that you could get, divided by the predicted cost of your ads.

Bear in mind that historical stats like average monthly searches are only shown for exact match. For example, let's say that your keyword is ‘dark chocolate’. If you want to check that keyword's average monthly searches, we'll show you the same exact match stats whether you use a broad, phrase or exact match type with ‘dark chocolate’.

Traffic forecasts such as clicks and cost, on the other hand, do take into account keyword match types. For example, if you get forecasts for a list of broad match keywords, then we'll take into account any overlap between those keywords.

See forecasts by device

After you get forecasts for your keywords or campaigns, you can see a breakdown of your forecasts by device. Here’s how to do this:

  • Enter a bid in the text box at the top
  • To see these forecasts broken down by device, click on the Device tab above the graph

You can use the Bid adjustment column to increase or decrease your mobile bid by a percentage. In the columns next to this, you’ll see how adjusting your mobile bid affects your forecasts, such as clicks, impressions, cost, click-through rate, average cost per click and average position.

See forecasts by location

You can also segment your forecasts by location. Here’s how to do this:

  • Click on the Location tab. By default, you’ll see a table breaking your forecasts down by your targeted locations

  • To see a more specific geographic segment of your targeted locations, such as region, state, county or city, select one from the Location drop-down menu on that same tab. Bear in mind that you can only select geographic segments that exist in all of your targeted locations. The rest will be greyed out.

6 Refine your keyword lists

After you’ve created a plan, you can edit and refine your ad group and keyword ideas to get an even better idea of how your keywords might perform. Each of your campaigns contains ad groups. Ad groups contain the keywords featured in your ads and direct users to your landing page.

You can easily change all of the keywords in an ad group from broad match to exact match to see whether exact match keywords might better help you reach your advertising goals.

How to do it

Create a plan by using one of the options in Keyword Planner, then click on Review plan on the right.

Add more ad groups or keywords

  • Click on +Add keywords
  • To add a new ad group, enter the name of the ad group and keywords in the boxes. To add keywords to an existing ad group, select the name of the ad group and enter the keywords in the box. Make sure that you enter the keywords one per line or separated by commas
  • Click on Save

Change keyword match types

  • If you’d like to change the match types for keywords in some of your ad groups, select the tick boxes next to the ad groups that you'd like to make changes to and click on the Match types drop-down menu
  • Select Selected to change the match type for the keywords in the selected ad groups. Select All to change the match type for all the keywords in your plan
  • Select Broad match, Exact match or Phrase match, depending on what match type you’d like to change the keywords in your selected ad group to
  • Click on Yes to apply your changes

Understanding keyword match types

Broad match

Broad match is the default match type that all your keywords are assigned. Ads may show on searches that include misspellings, synonyms, related searches and other relevant variations.

Example keyword: women's hats
Example search: buy ladies’ hats

Phrase match

Ads may show on searches that are a phrase, and close variations of that phrase.

Symbol: "keyword"
Example keyword: "women's hats"
Example search: buy women's hats

Exact match

Ads may show on searches that are an exact term and close variations of that exact term.

Symbol: [keyword]
Example keyword: [women's hats]
Example search: women's hats

Negative match

Ads may show on searches without the term.

Symbol: -keyword
Example keyword: -women
Example search: baseball hats

Broad match modifier

Adding modified broad match keywords to your campaigns can result in more clicks and conversions, potentially matching up to the ROI on your phrase match keywords. With modified broad match, you don’t need as many keywords as you would using only phrase and exact match, as each keyword can match more word order and spelling variations. To use modified broad match, put a plus sign (+) in front of one or more words in a broad match keyword. The words that are preceded by a (+) sign must appear in the user’s keyword phrase exactly or as a close variation.

Symbol: +keyword
Example keyword: +women's +hats
Example search: hats for women

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