Building Successful PPC: Researching Keywords

TImothy Johnson, Small Business Solutions / PPC Team Lead
Building Keyword Lists Hero

After creating your PPC account structure and establishing standard campaign settings, it’s time to start researching and adding keywords in your ad groups.

Having a descriptive keyword list that accurately and helpfully characterizes your product or offering precisely will help to get your ads in front of a relevant audience. One that’s searching for a solution to a particular problem for which your product or service could be ideal.

Moving forward from here, we’ll dive into techniques and strategies for building successful and relevant keyword lists.

Identifying Your PPC Keywords

Building a keyword list can be frustrating. To help with brainstorming, try putting yourself in your customers’ shoes.

Think about what your customers’ problems are. What would they search for in Google to find solutions for the issues they are working to solve? By doing so, you can begin to put together a small list of core keywords.

After developing that initial list, using the Google Ads Keyword Tool is an excellent way to start expanding that initial keyword list you started with.

Finding Keyword Planner Tool

The Keyword tool works by taking an existing keyword list or your website URL and generating new related keywords.

Another great way to research new keywords is to simply use Google Search itself.

By using the Google search suggestions feature, you can find a variety of new keywords you may not have identified yet.

Using Google Suggest Example

You can also check the related searches; these will be located at the end of the SERP.

Google Related Searches

Assigning Keyword Match Types

After compiling a keyword list, match types need to be assigned to each keyword. There are three main match types to select from: broad, phrase, and exact.

First, let’s dive into broad match, which is the default setting for all keywords. Keywords that are set to broad match will trigger ads when someone searches for that specific keyword as well as slight variations of that same keyword.

For example, if a given ad group in your campaign holds the broad match keyword ‘red shoes,’ a user searching for ‘blue shoes’ could trigger your ad unless negative keywords are being used properly.

Broad Match Example

Modified broad match is an additional match type as well. This is a sort of subset to broad match that works in a similar way. In the example above, we could change our keyword to modified broad match by adding a “+” to the word “red.” The keyword would then read “+red shoes” and now the search “blue shoes” would not trigger it. The “+” tells Google that that word must be included.

Next, phrase match keywords will trigger ads when that keyword string is searched for. Ads may also show if there are additional words before or after the keyword string.

As an example, if a given ad group in your campaign holds the phrase match keyword ‘red shoes,’ a user searching for ‘free red shoes’ could trigger your ad unless negative keywords are being used properly.

Phrase Match Example

Exact match keyword will allow ads to be shown only if the search query is exactly the same as the keyword.

As an example, if you have the exact match keyword ‘red shoes’ in your ad group, only searches for ‘red shoes’ will trigger your ads.

When selecting your keyword match types, remember that there is no perfect way to assign them. Typically, it is better to be as specific as possible. To be as specific as possible it is better to use phrase and exact match when possible to weed out unqualified customers.

Once your ad group has built out keyword lists and match types assigned to those keywords, we can direct our attention to writing ad copy.

Check out the rest of the six-part series:

PRIMER: What is PPC – Pay Per Click Marketing Explained
PART 1: Structuring Your Google Ads Account
PART 2: Understanding Campaign Settings
PART 3: Researching Keywords (you are here)
PART 4: Writing Engaging Ads
PART 5: The Best Google Ads Extensions to Implement
PART 6: Tracking Success

TImothy Johnson, Small Business Solutions / PPC Team Lead

Timothy Johnson

Small Business Solutions / PPC Team Lead
Small Business Solutions / PPC Team Lead

As Portent's PPC team lead, Tim manages both the agency's PPC efforts as well as the small business solutions team. He is dedicated to working with clients to maximize the results of their advertising budgets, constantly looking for out-of-the box paid search strategies to meet–and exceed–their goals. Tim carries full Google Ads, Microsoft Advertising, and Google Analytics certifications.

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