PPC Keyword Research

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PPC Keyword Research

Keywords are at the foundation of any PPC campaign.

Target the right keywords and you attract more conversions for your business. But target the wrong ones and you can expect an abysmal return. So how do you find the right keywords for your campaign? Most importantly, how do you find keywords that actually drive sales?

It starts with understanding your market.

Knowing the keywords that potential customers are searching for is absolutely invaluable. It puts you in a far better position of driving more views to your ads. And ultimately getting a far better return than simply taking guesses (which is how most campaigns tend to start out).

Here you will learn more about the keyword research process including how to find the right keywords to target and how to refine your list.

Brainstorm a Keyword List

A good place to start is the landing page that the ad will be linking to. Start by brainstorming a list of relevant keywords that directly relate to the products or services you offer.

It helps to look at example to see how these all fit together:

Brand: These are keywords that contain brand names or trademarked terms. Bidding on these means that your ads display whenever someone searches for a competitor’s business name. Brand keywords can be very expensive and may not worth it unless you have a modest budget.

Generic: These are the most common type of keywords to bid on and are related to products or services offered.

Related: While not necessarily related to the products or services you offer, related keywords complement them. A related term for a landing page promoting only tables might be “chairs”.

Here are some additional tips to help with the brainstorming stage:

Think from your customers’ point of view:

What kind of keywords would your ideal customer search for to find the products or services you offer?

If you offer a flower delivery service, some keywords might be:

  • Flower delivery services
  • Same day flower delivery
  • Send flowers online

Jot down everything you think of. You can refine the list later on.

Narrow down to specific keywords from broad keywords:

One mistake that business owners make with PPC campaigns is bidding on broad keywords (e.g. shoes, flowers, computers, etc.). These keywords may be high volume but they are also expensive to bid on and generally do not convert as well as more targeted phrases.

Start with a broad term and narrow it down.

  • Flowers > Flower delivery > Flower delivery services > Next day online flower delivery services

Long tail keyword phrases may not get as much search traffic as broad phrases. But they are much more targeted which is great for conversions. They are also less competitive so bidding on them is cheaper.

Include synonyms in your list:

Remember to include synonyms to widen your keyword list even further and attract more clicks to your ads. With the example above, you can bid on variations such as:

  • Flora delivery delivery services
  • Next day roses delivery
  • Send roses online
Include related keywords for your products or services:

Even if you only sell shoes there is a good chance that someone searching for those terms is also searching for related terms such as treadmills, gym memberships, how to lose weight, etc.

Merge lists together

Want to quickly expand your keyword list even further? Using the mergewords tools lets you easily merge columns of words together, a technique called “concatenation”. Here is an example:


Using this technique can help you generate even more keywords for your PPC campaign.

Include question type keywords:

The Hummingbird update focuses on delivering more relevant results for conversational type queries. As such, your keyword list should also include searches such as:

  • Where can I…
  • How do you…
  • What is a…
Include city names for local businesses:

If you are a local business, be sure to include the city names you target. In AdWords you can also refine your search to only target a specific region.

Use Keyword Research Tools to Expand Your List

Spend some time with brainstorming keywords that are relevant to the products or services you offer. If you followed the tips as detailed above, you likely have hundreds of keywords to work with. The next step is to expand your list even further and refine it down to those keywords that will actually drive sales to your business.

Keyword Planner

Google’s Keyword Planner tool is an invaluable resource that provides additional keyword ideas and estimated traffic volume:

Start by clicking on “Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category”. Enter in your keywords from your brainstorming session and click “Get ideas”:

he competition indicator gives you a better idea of how many other advertisers are bidding on those same terms. More competition means you will have to pay more to have your ad displayed in the top positions.

Clicking on the “Ad group ideas” tab groups relevant keywords together and offers additional keyword ideas you can add to your campaign. You will likely be to find plenty of keywords to add to your list that you may not have even thought of.

So which keywords should you target?

The ideal keyword you should be looking for are those that are high-volume with medium to low competition. These are the type of keywords that can help drive substantial traffic to your PPC campaign without burning through your budget.

If you have a limited budget, you may want to consider dropping keywords that have high competition. Consider using additional tools such as Ubersuggest to expand your list and discover new terms that have the perfect balance between traffic and competition.

Organizing Your Keywords

Using Keyword Planner along with other keyword tools should give you an impressive list to work with. The next step is to sort the keywords into smaller, targeted groups that are related to each other. Creating ad groups in this matter allow you to create more effective ads for your campaign.

A highly targeted campaign should match the categories on your site. Here is an example:

- Brand: Nike running shoes
- Brand: Puma running shoes
- Generic: Running shoes
- Generic: Jogging shoes
- Generic: Sportswear
- Generic: Fitness treadmills

Focused ad groups is highly advantageous as it helps you better measure the performance of each keyword and create more relevant ads. But perhaps the biggest advantage is the impact that it has on Quality Scores. Even if you pay less to bid on certain keywords, Google may place your ads higher than a competitor who is paying more if your ads are more relevant and have a higher Quality Score.

Here you will learn more about the keyword research process including how to find the right keywords to target and how to refine your list.

Add Negative Keywords

Another important aspect of every PPC campaign is negative keywords.

These are keywords you can add to your list to prevent your ad from displaying for certain keywords or phrases. For example, someone searching for “free” would not be an ideal customer so you would want to eliminate that type of traffic from your campaign. Adding negative keywords to your list helps to remove irrelevant traffic and increase conversions.

Google provides a list of words that searchers type in every time your ads are displayed. Look through these reports to identify any words that are not a good fit for your campaigns. For example, if you sell a higher end product or service you may want to include negative keywords such as “free” or “cheap”.

We will look at how to compile a negative keyword list in the next section.

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