Posted | By | In Drive Traffic, General Resources.


Knowing how to create a targeted keyword list is crucial to running a successful PPC campaign. It’s not always easy to do either because it involves deciding how to manage multiple variables at once including:

  • How long should your search terms be
  • Should you use broad or exact match
  • How should you structure your budget

Luckily there are some established best practices out there already, so you don’t have to start from scratch. Here’s some of those guidelines to help you build your first keyword list.

Think Like Your Customer

Anytime you’re choosing keywords for your PPC search advertising campaign, it’s a good to start by imagining what your customer is looking for.

For example, if you’re selling a registry cleaner, you might come up with keywords like “registry cure”, “clean my registry”, “registry doctor”, “registry software”, “registry cleaning utilities”, “clean up registry”, “heal the registry”, and many more that consumers could use to search for your product.

You could also think about the specific problem your customer has that they’re looking for you to solve, rather than targeting the solution itself. For example, when you brainstorm keywords from this perspective you might come up with phrases like: “what should I do when my registry is broken”, “why is my computer so slow”, “how do I increase my PCs speed”, “how do I get my PC running like new again”, and so on.

As you go, write down all your ideas in an Excel spreadsheet so you can go back over them later on.

Do Lots of Keyword Research

Google’s Keyword Planner is excellent for helping you come up with a core list of tightly correlated keywords to use in your PPC search ads. Google also offers a great help section on building keywords that’s worth checking out.

Simply by typing a keyword or phrase into the Google Keyword Planner you can get a list of related keywords as well as an analysis of the search volume and competitiveness of those keywords.

Set Different Ad Groups for Volume and Quantity

In general there are two main strategies to cover in your keyword list building and you’ll want to incorporate both into your planning.

1) High Volume –– involves going after keywords that have a higher search volume with lower competition. You’ll have to strike a balance between these two end goals because higher volume usually means higher competition, so determining what is within your budget is really the name of the game when it comes to this strategy.

2) High Quality –– involves going after more specific keywords that have a lower search volume but are more highly targeted to the product/service they’re promoting. While specific search terms generate less clicks on your ads and drive less traffic to your sales pages, they almost always have a higher conversion rate because the customers that are clicking-through are already interested in your product and are therefore more likely to purchase it.

Incorporate Long Tail Keywords.

Long tail keywords are phrases that contain three or more words and target a specific feature or benefit of the product. Long tail keywords normally generate low search volume, but also have a lower cost-per-click because they are less competitive.

The logic behind using them in your search advertising campaigns is that they can produce much higher quality leads. When a consumer clicks on a PPC ad with a long tail keyword string in the ad copy, it’s because they’ve found exactly what they want –– or very close to it.

Attach Modifiers to Your Keywords.

This is a great way to create relevant keywords, and all you have to do is add descriptive words to your core keywords for it to work.

For example, if you’re promoting an anti-virus program, you can use modifiers related to different anti-virus protection features in the product that qualify the keyword phrase “cure for computer viruses”, such as “remove Root-kits”, “block Trojans”, “stop key-loggers”, “anti-phishing features” and so on.

This way your ad is more likely to show up to consumers who are searching for specific keywords related to your product.

Anticipate Consumer Questions.

Search queries are frequently entered in the form of a question. That means there’s and opportunity for you to mirror that in your keyword lists and therefore capture more clicks.

For example, many people search with questions like “how do I remove a virus from my PC?”, “why do I have to clean my registry?”, and “how can I increase my PCs speed?”, to which you could counter with smart keywords like “Remove a virus from your PC”, “Clean your registry to improve system performance” and “Increase system speed with an optimization utility.”

If you can structure your keywords in a way that anticipates the searcher’s question, you will be able to capture more click-throughs and generate more sales.

Protect Your Lists with Negative Keywords.

Negative keywords are important to building efficient and effective keyword lists.

Using them means your ad will not be displayed when a customer searches for a specific keyword you’ve identified as unnecessary to your campaign. For example, if you’re promoting a Mac cleanup product, you might choose “PC clean up”, “increase PC speed” and “clean my PC” as negative keywords. This tactic will help ensure your ads are reaching only the most targeted consumers.

Just be careful though, because using too many keywords can also mean your ads are reaching fewer customers, which can potentially have a negative impact on your quality score.

As Always, Track and Test.

Choosing the right keywords takes time to get the hang of it. Just remember to stay the course, monitor their performance and refine your keyword lists based on the data you’re seeing in your AdWords account. Keep practicing and you’ll be an expert in no time.

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