Paid search (PPC) – How to build an effective keyword list for your paid search campaign

Dec 2nd, 2014

Effective keyword lists are the foundations for all of your paid search (PPC) campaigns. If your keyword lists have weaknesses, so will your account

Generating keywords

Get brainstorming

When researching your keywords, the first step is to identify the audience you’re targeting. A quick brainstorming session on likely keywords is a good place to start. Think about who, what and where your target audience will be searching for when trying to connect with sites like yours.

Make the most of Google’s Keyword Planner

This AdWords tool is essential when creating keyword lists. Firstly, it gives you the option to search for keywords by volume using a generic or specific topic. You can then narrow this down by location, product category, language and network. This makes the suggested keywords as specific to your business as possible. Your landing page can also be added to the search, which will improve the Quality Score of the keywords fed back because of their relevancy to your landing page.

You can use as little or as many of these options as you like, but the more you use, the more specific the results will be to your business. Use your brainstorm ideas to expand your Keyword Planner research further. To exhaust all possible variations, the Multiply Keyword Lists tool within the Keyword Planner is extremely useful. This gives you the option to combine multiple keyword lists, for example, combining ‘Remote Control Helicopter’ and a list of colour variations. This can be a great time saver but the tool also provides forecasting information that can be used during the planning process.

Google your keywords

Google is making searching the internet easier all the time. Potential customers are using predictive technology such as Google Suggest and Google Instant, so research in this area is a must. Test your keywords in Google Search and see what suggestions it comes up with – these are the same suggestions potential customers will be seeing when they make similar searches, making this information extremely valuable to your keyword research.

Creating keywords

Now you have a raw list of keywords, you’ll need to group these under common themes to form your campaigns. These ad groups will form your specific matches with keywords of these five main types:

Broad match

Broad match modified keywords by definition will “include misspellings, synonyms, related searches and other relevant variations”.

These keywords are useful to ensure a higher flow of traffic. With more possibilities of matching to other keywords, these are sure to have the highest impression counts in your account. However, you’ll need to carefully review how relevant the traffic is that is attracted, alongside the cost of having so many matches.

Broad match modified

Broad match modified keywords by definition will “contain the modified term (or close variations, but not synonyms), in any order”.

These modified terms should form the base of your keyword strategy, matching to anything they can in direct relation to the original keyword. They’re important to ensure that you pick up queries that fall outside your generic keyword terms. One thing to note when using generic keywords with broad match modified is that they can be very costly, especially if used over a large target area, they will match with a very broad range of queries, not all of which will be relevant to your business.

Phrase match

Phrase match keywords by definition “are a phrase, and close variations of that phrase”.

These keywords are important because they match with the most important part of the search query. Phrase match keywords are good for capturing the themes of searches. For example if someone searches “where can I buy remote control helicopters online?” or “places to buy remote control helicopters on the internet”, surmising that these are not built in then the theme ‘buy remote control helicopters’ will match the same phrase match keyword.

Phrase match keywords are good for capturing the themes of searches. They allow close variations and also additional words before and after the phrase match keyword, for example, the phrase match keyword ‘Remote Helicopters’ would match to both ‘Fast Remote Helicopters’ and ‘Remote Helicopters Sale’ queries. This allows you to target your keywords to long search queries without covering every potential keyword entry. You also have much more control than with the previous two match types.

Exact match

Exact match keywords include by definition “exact term and close variations of that exact term”.

These keywords are a must-have because they give you specific control of what you which search terms you want to match. This helps with budgeting within your Account and results in high relevancy. To ensure that your traffic is not too restricted, exact match should be used alongside the previous three match types.

Negative keywords

Negative keywords can be of any type. They follow the same rules as mentioned above, so ensure you’re fully aware of the restrictions that associated with these keywords.

Negative keywords are important as they improve nearly all metrics and budget when utilised correctly. Relevancy is key and this is a great way to keep your account as relevant as possible. They can be added at campaign or Account level so you can wisely plan your negatives to work as effectively as they need to.

Monitoring keyword performance

The search query report (SQR) tool within your AdWords account is a must for developing your campaigns. The SQR allows you to research what queries are connecting to your current keywords and allows you to refine your keyword targeting with negatives, as well as identify opportunities that you are currently missing. Improving relevancy is one part of improving Ad Rank and Quality Score, which can boost your click-through-rate and save you money in bids.

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