Finding the Right Keywords for your PPC Campaign

If you want your PPC campaign to be effective, you must find the keywords that are most likely to lead to clicks and conversions. You will need to anticipate the most likely terms that potential customers will use in their searches and make use of the various tools that are available to identify the best keywords.

The first stage in your keyword research should be to analyze the landing pages to which your ads will be linked and record all the keywords in the text that relate directly to the products or services you provide. These will fall roughly into four categories:

  • Brand terms – keywords that contain your brand name or trademarks.
  • Generic terms – those terms that relate generally to your products and services.
  • Related terms – terms that are not directly related to your products and services but which potential customers might use in their search.
  • Competitor terms – the brand names of your competitors.

You should begin with broad-based keywords and progress to more specific terms. A typical example would be:

Shoes – men’s shoes – men’s running shoes – men’s black running shoes.

In this instance “shoes” would have a high search volume but it would include searches by people looking for women’s shoes, dancing shoes and so on. For a more relevant search, a long-tail keyword like “men’s black running shoes” will result in fewer searches but those searches are more likely to see your ad clicked and more likely to lead to a sale, because it is an exact match for what the searcher is looking for. Also, search engines are increasingly more able to identify longer word strings.

To expand a keyword list, you can use Excels concatenation function. This will allow you to merge columns of words and generate all the possible combinations. Basically, if the first column has three adjectives for size (large, medium, small), the second has three for colour (red, white, blue) and the third three item names (shirt, blouse, tee), then you will be able to generate all 27 permutations of the nine words. If you do not have access to a copy of excel then you can use a spreadsheet in Google Docs, or an online alternative like Found’s Ultimate PPC Keyword Concatenation Tool.

Your keyword list could include words that are commonly misspelled but make sure that misspelled words do not appear in your ads, otherwise they will seem unprofessional. These days, Google has become more adept at recognizing words that are spelled incorrectly so inclusion of such words is becoming unnecessary.

Once you have identified likely keywords then you should use a keyword research tool to help you decide which to keep and which to ignore. The Google AdWords Keyword Planner is an excellent tool for this purpose. It shows the average number of monthly searches on a particular keyword and the competition for that keyword – high, medium or low. You want keywords that show a high volume of searches that have a low competition rating – this is the ideal situation.

You now need to sort your keywords into small, targeted closely related groups that correspond to your ad groups. If these are tightly focused, you will find it easier to monitor how your keywords perform, modify your lists and create more specific ads that will improve the efficiency of your accounts.

You can further improve your campaign by including negative keywords that will prevent your ads appearing alongside irrelevant search queries. For example, if you are selling photograph albums you will want to exclude searches relating to stamp albums. Be careful, however, about how you use negatives because if not used properly they could harm your accounts performance.

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