Skip to main content

The foundation of any successful campaign is strong PPC keyword research. By choosing the right keywords to bid on, you will ensure that your campaigns are driving quality traffic which will lead to a strong return on investment.

PPC keyword research is a combination of strategy and creativity. It’s about using the wide range of smart bidding and paid search automation tools at your disposal while understanding your customer and predicting which terms they’re searching for.

A good pay per click keyword research strategy is the best way to ensure that your ads reach the right pair of eyes at the right time; when a potential customer is searching for the kinds of products or services you offer.

Step 1: Get Brainstorming!

The starting point for your PPC keyword research should be the website landing pages that you plan to be linking your ads to.

Begin by scanning across each page of the website, noting any relevant keywords from the text on site. Assuming the website you will be advertising has a well-written and relevant copy, there should be enough material to put together a fairly comprehensive list of keywords that directly relate to your products or services.

Pay per click keywords can be broadly organized into the following types:

  • Brand terms – Any keywords containing your brand name and trademarked terms.
  • Generic terms – Terms relating to products and services offered.
  • Related terms – Terms that don’t directly relate to what you’re selling, but those users who want your products or services may be searching for.
  • Competitor terms – The brand names of competitors who are offering similar products and services to yours.

Some key points to remember when brainstorming PPC keywords:

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. What kinds of words and queries would they need to type into the search box to bring them to your website?

Start with top-level generic keywords and then move to long-tail keywords.
For example: Shirts -> men’s shirts -> men’s long-sleeve shirts -> men’s black long-sleeve shirts

Consider the reach when selecting keywords. Sometimes it can be a good idea to include broad or “head” terms in a campaign (which are usually single words or short phrases) because they have higher search volume – however, long-tail keywords are less competitive and therefore less costly.

Include keywords that are related to your product or service. depending on your available budget for advertising, it can be beneficial to include searches of products or services to attract those with similar interests. For example, if you sell dog food you could include topics that dog owners would search for. Such as dog grooming, dog breeds, dog sitters, dog accessories, etc.

Step 2: Expand and Refine Your List with Keyword Research Tools

Now you have a list of strong terms to bid on, the next step is to use one of the various PPC keyword research tools available, to decide which keywords to keep, and which to discard. Don’t just go with gut instinct – keyword tools can help you close in on terms that people are really using when completing searches.

There are multiple PPC keyword analysis tools that can give you insights into how popular certain keywords are. The most readily accessible would be Google’s Keyword Planner (included within Google Ads).

The key stat to look for is search volume. The higher the search volume, the more people are searching for that given term per month. Google Ads Keyword Planner also assigns a “Competition” rank which can be either high, medium, or low. A high competition rank means that more advertisers are bidding on these terms, which means you’ll have to pay more to get your ad to the top positions.

If keywords have little or no search volume, or the competition is so high that the cost of bidding on that keyword would eat up your budget too quickly, drop them from the list.

Using the keyword tool, you should be able to reign in potentially inefficient keywords while discovering new terms that you hadn’t thought of.

Step 3: Organizing and Sorting Your PPC Keywords

At this point, you should have a pretty tight keyword list. It’s time to organise your list into concise, focused groups of keywords that are closely associated with one another.

The closer and more tightly linked your ad groups are, the easier it will be to:

  • Measure the performance of each keyword.
  • Reduce or expand your lists if necessary.
  • Create highly specific and relevant ads.

On top of this, well-organized campaigns provide higher relevance. This leads to higher quality scores, therefore simultaneously increasing your ad rankings and reducing what you pay for each click and each conversion.

A healthy PPC account should always aim to have strong quality scores, and ensuring your keywords are well researched, analysed and organised can definitely bolster your scores.

Step 4: Remember to Add Negative Keywords

As you’ve now almost created your keyword list, don’t forget about adding negative keywords. These are the search queries that you don’t want your ads to appear on. They keep control of costs and ensure your ad targeting is as relevant as possible.

The core reason for negative PPC keywords is to prevent your ads (therefore your brand) from showing up alongside search queries that are irrelevant or offensive. For example, a high-end seller would want negative terms like “cheap” and “free”.

You should remember to add negative terms that are similar to but not really related to your business – such as “hairdryer” if you sell home appliances including washers and dryers.

Tips for researching and analysing negative keywords for your PPC campaigns:

  1. Regularly check search query reports – If you see in your search query report a keyword that is not a good fit for your account, add them in as negatives before you risk showing on them again.
  2. Know your negative match types – The match type that you assign to a negative keyword has a large impact on what traffic it blocks. Put generally, broad match negatives block ads on any query that contains your negative term, such as “free.” Phrase and exact match negatives remove more specific queries.
  3. Add your negative keywords before your campaign goes live – this will save the budget from being wasted before you find them in your search query reports.
  4. Remember that you can apply multi-level negatives – Use these for negatives that are good fits across multiple ad groups or campaigns.
  5. Don’t overdo it – Negatives are an important aspect of any PPC campaign, but an improperly used negative or too many negatives can hurt your account and kill your impression volume.

Finally, just keep going! You’re not going to locate every keyword or search query you should bid on (or exclude) in PPC on the first go, so regularly research and expand on them.

If you are looking for professional, managed PPC campaigns get in touch today and discover how our wealth of experience and knowledge can grow your business online!