Keywords are valuable. There is no other way to cut it. If you’re using Google Ads and the Google Search Network, then keywords are your bread and butter. They are like the new oil: everyone wants it, everyone needs it and there’s only so much of it to go around!
Every great PPC campaign starts with superb keyword research. It is a crucial part of the PPC marketing process. Unfortunately, this means that if your research of search terms is flawed, the PPC campaigns that follow will also be shaky, at best.
This guide will look at how to properly conduct keyword research for your Google Ads campaigns.
Google Ads Keyword Research Is Different From SEO
There is a more than likely chance that you’ve done keyword research before. Specifically, you’ve looked for relevant keywords to guide your SEO efforts. The process for Google Ads is similar but slightly different.
When you conduct research for SEO, you’re looking for relevant keywords that are worth your time and will help you build traffic to your website. PPC keywords cost money, so you don’t just want any traffic. You want qualified traffic. Thus, you want to find terms with the highest potential value for your business.
Understanding Keyword Intent
User intent is the key to understanding the difference between a good SEO keyword and a good Google Ads keyword. Here is an example to demonstrate search intent. Your business sells high-end car tires. These four searches are all relevant to your company:
- How to change a tire
- Types of tires
- Bridgestone tires
- Buy new tires
Can you guess which search has the highest intent? It is ‘buy new tires.’ This search demonstrates a user that is in the market for new tires and is likely to convert.
‘How to change a tire’ is a great SEO keyword because millions of people search this, but it doesn’t suggest someone ready to make a purchase. ‘Types of tires’ and ‘Bridgestone tires’ suggest someone that is doing research or looking for a competitor. They are relevant, but not valuable.
You want to research keywords that have an intent that corresponds with your marketing goal. If your goal is to increase sales, then look for keywords that suggest a user is ready to make a purchase.
Start By Listing The Obvious
The only tool you really need to conduct keyword research is a spreadsheet. Start by listing the obvious keywords that relate to your business and have intent. The list doesn’t have to be perfect and you’ll refine it later. You can just list what comes to your mind.
If you’re really at a loss, you can look at your competitors. What keywords do they target with their ads and incorporate them into their paid content? You should also compare competitor keywords with your own to see if the list you’ve created checks out. Do they target some of the keywords you’ve already thought of?
Bring In The Tools
Now you add the help of a keyword research and planning tool. There are tons of options on the market. Google offers its own free keyword planner that is a common favorite. These tools work by entering a keyword and then receiving tons of data on that term, as well as related keywords that may be useful. These suggestions will help you flush out your list from the previous step.
Enter each keyword you’ve already listed and looked at what suggestions appear. You can choose to export the entire list provided by your keyword research tool, or pick and choose the options that you want. Initially, you’re just looking for new keywords. You’ll look at search volumes and other metrics in the next section.
Refine Your List
At this point in the process, your keyword list is long, but it is also very unrefined. You need to review the hundreds of keywords you’ve exported from your tool(s) and find the top picks. Now it is time to look at things like search volume!
When it comes to PPC, the search volume will impact costs. A term with low searches may seem like a waste, but you may be able to secure ad ranks at pennies on the click! Searches with extremely high search volume, on the other hand, will result in very high costs for every click.
You can also remove a lot of keywords that are not relevant to your business. It may be a brand you don’t offer or a specific style that isn’t in your inventory. However, don’t just remove them entirely. Instead, make notes to add them to your negative keyword list!
Now your expansive list is looking slimmer again. That’s good! You’re almost there. Your next objective is to group keywords into relevant groups of the same theme. These will be used to form the ad groups of your PPC campaigns.
When creating keyword groups, it’s important to realize that one size does not fit all. You may have some groups with only one or two keywords and other groups with over ten. The key is to ensure that every word in the group is on-theme with the rest. The tighter your groups, the easier it is to create relevant ad messages that drive clicks!
Adding Keywords To Your PPC Campaigns
Your keyword research is completed (for now) and it is time to add your newfound keyword opportunities to your campaigns. There are a number of ways to organize your keywords and incorporate them into your campaigns.
You may decide that you want to have 5 different campaigns, each one with its own purpose. For example, brand names, competitors’ brands, generic keywords, different countries and other products you sell. Or, you may decide you just want one or two campaigns.
There is no proven way to do this. You just need to find out what makes sense for your business!
Keyword research is an ongoing process. Search users are always changing how they look for products and solutions, which means your target keywords also need to be adjusted frequently.
Just because you’ve published your PPC campaigns does not mean that you need to stop studying keywords and looking for new opportunities! You should continue to add and subtract from your keyword list based on what results in better performance from your campaigns.