Successful keyword research provides the foundation for profitable PPC campaigns. It is important to keep in mind that keyword research is an art, and not a science. There are numerous tools available to assist with developing and expanding these lists, but no one tool can do everything, and you’ll need to brainstorm topics related to your niche.
A successful campaign uses phrases that searchers are using. Take on the searcher’s perspective when determining relevant phrases. It is tempting to use “marketing” language when developing a keyword list rather than focusing on searcher activity. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how accurately a phrase describes a product if people are not using that language in a search query.
When you are developing search phrases, think about words that searchers would use to solve a problem they are experiencing. Consider what problems, issues, concerns or events could prompt someone to go to a search engine and search for a need that your product can fill? If you only focus keyword strategy on describing your product, you will be missing out on profitable keywords.
Tips to Get Started on Keyword Research
Brainstorm – Write down key aspects of the product or service (i.e., what does the product do, how does the customer get value from the product) Keep in mind that brainstorming is about generating lots of ideas, and you’ll narrow down your keywords later. When you put on your “searcher” hat focus on identifying issues that could be solved by the key aspects of the product. Go broad with the keywords before going deep.
Consider Modifiers – Modifiers can be industry specific adjectives, action terms etc. These can be added to core phrases to expand a list. i.e., free, download, trial, scan, buy. Develop a list of important modifiers that can be used to expand the list. Keep in mind that there are good modifiers that fit in with the “interest” and “research” phases, but these may not result in sales. If you want people to buy, you will want to use modifiers that fit in with the end of the buying cycle.
Research and Expand Your List of Words – Use a variety of tools to expand your list. Conduct searches on the search engines. How are other people describing products similar to yours? Are the results for a given keyword relevant to you? Would you like your ad to be here? Look for any common misspellings, variations (“s” vs. “z” “…or” vs “.. our “ etc), Look at what competitors are targeting, geospecific phrases (couch vs. chesterfield), and abbreviations/slangs. Use search tools to determine best word order of phrase.
Categorize Your List – Identify some main themes in the list. It is easier to expand and find long tail phrases when they are grouped in related themes. One option is to use Excel and have a tab per category. Remember to have a tab for negative keywords as well.
Implement a Campaign – No list is going to work if not being used. Even choosing “wrong” phrases can provide important data.
Test and Refine – Use data from campaign(s) to determine effective phrases. Track conversions! Run search query reports in Adwords to determine converting phrases and use these reports to develop a negative keyword list.
Use Negative Keywords
Negative keywords are an essential part of a profitable campaign. These are terms that you don’t want to trigger one of your paid ads. There are a couple of ways to develop these.
Check search engine results for a keyword. Is that a page you would like to be on? If it’s not relevant, add it to your negative keyword list. If it is relevant, who is your competition? What can you learn from their landing page and ad text?
Keep a Master List
Not all the keywords you come up with will be cost effective to bid on in a PPC campaign. However, you should still generate a master list and determine which phrases to bid on based on your budget. As profitability increase, so can the budget and then you will be able to bid on the more expensive keywords that you have already found.
Google Adwords Keyword Planner
Google has a great tool called Keyword Planner. It’s a combination of the functionality in the old Keyword Tool and Traffic Estimator and it makes it easier to plan search campaigns. You can use Keyword Planner to find new keyword and ad group ideas, get performance estimates for them to find the bid and budget that are right for you, and then add them to your campaigns.
To access Keyword Planner, sign in to your AdWords account at https://adwords.google.com. Click the Tools and Analysis drop-down menu and select “Keyword Planner.” Keep in mind that the anonymous keyword tool is no longer available. But if you were using it for other reasons, you can still get keyword ideas with Keyword Planner. All you need is an AdWords account.