Your guide to Google AdWords keyword research

AdWords Keyword Research

Keywords matter more than you think.

Whether you’re trying to attract organic traffic to your website by making sure that you rank in the search engine results pages, or you want to get the true value from your PPC campaigns, it all starts with keywords.

While the quest for organic traffic through SEO is an honourable and worthwhile one, it’s also a process that takes a lot of time, focus, and commitment. Even if you have excellent content and a strong search engine optimisation strategy, it could take years for you to reach the first page of Google for your preferred search terms – particularly if you’re in a competitive niche.

PPC, or “Pay Per Click” advertising is one of the ways that businesses can boost their chances of capturing audience attention while their SEO strategy is still growing. With a PPC service like Google AdWords, companies can display their ads at higher points in the search results pages immediately.

Though Google AdWords is just one of the advertising services available for companies interested in PPC growth today, it is one of the most popular choices. After all, 89% of customers begin their buying journey with a search on Google.

AdWords Keyword Research

Conducting AdWords keyword research: An introduction

Google AdWords, or Google Ads, is the PPC advertising system owned and managed by Google. In this environment, advertisers and businesses can bid for certain keywords, and pay for their clickable content to appear higher in the search results. Depending on the competitiveness of the keywords that you want to rank for, it could take a lot of money to stand out on Google AdWords.

Because of this, companies have to be very careful about the keywords they use for their campaigns. Unlike with typical keyword research where you’re thinking about your user personas and the kind of image you want to build for your brand, AdWords keyword research has a much greater focus on budget. Often, companies use the wider list of keywords that they’ve brainstormed for their SEO strategy to help them find keywords to bid for on AdWords that are both competitive and budget-friendly.

Though finding the right terms and phrases to bid for on Google AdWords can be complicated, a good strategy can pay off in the long-term. For instance, Google allows users to target the precise audience that they want to bring to their website with their PPC campaigns. You can even pick the time of day when you want your ads to be displayed.

Other benefits include:

  • Options to target specific devices: This is ideal for companies interested in local PPC who want to draw customers to a physical store or location.
  • Budget-friendly growth: You pay only for the clicks or impressions that you get and nothing else. This means that you’re paying for results you can really see.
  • Excellent performance tracking: Like many PPC solutions, Google AdWords comes with reports and tracking tools that you can use the measure the outcomes of your campaigns.
AdWords Keyword Research

Choosing keywords for Google AdWords

So, how do you make sure that you’re investing in the right keywords for your AdWords campaigns?

Fortunately, Google makes that pretty simple, by offering a keyword planner you can use to build out a fully targeted campaign. However, before we start exploring how you can use the keywords planner to start defining your AdWords campaign, we need to cover the different kinds of keywords that you’ll need to address for your PPC efforts.

When it comes to keyword research, AdWords require businesses to think carefully about five primary kinds of keywords. These include:

1. Broad match keywords

Broad match keywords are the default option for Google AdWords. Broad match basically means that if you bid for the words “Digital marketing,” your ad will be displayed to everyone who searches for those words, even if they’re in a different order, or combined with additional terms like “Digital marketing videos”, or “Small business digital marketing”.

Broad match keywords allow businesses to reach the widest possible selection of customers. You’ll connect with everyone who “Might” be looking for your business, even if they use the plural form of words, or misspell certain terms.

The biggest problems with broad match keywords on AdWords is that they’re highly competitive, which means that you’ll need to spend a lot of money to stand out, and they’re very vague. You could end up reaching people who don’t actually need your services. For instance, if you’re a digital marketing auditing company, ranking on AdWords for the term “Digital marketing” could help you to reach customers who are looking for digital marketing videos, digital marketing software, and so much more.

2. Broad match modifier keywords

If broad match keywords are just too broad for you, then you can always narrow down your choices a little bit with broad match modifier terms instead. Basically, this gives you a more precise selection of terms to try and rank for. For instance, you might bid for the term “Digital marketing + audit”. This means that your ads will only appear to customers who are searching for both digital marketing and the word “Audit” in the same query.

You’ll reach fewer potential customers this way, but a modifier on your broad match could also mean that you spend less money and connect with a more relevant target audience. The modifier can also appear before, or after your main keyword, which gives you more scope to show up in different kinds of searches.

3. Phrase match keywords

Another kind of keyword you’ll need to know about when conducting your AdWords keyword research is the “Phrase match” term. This is one of the keyword bid types that gives you the most control over where you’re spending your money, and the kind of customers that you’re attracting. When you opt for a phrase match keyword, your ad will only appear in results for search terms that are typed out in the same order as your phrase.

For instance, if you want to rank for “digital marketing audit London”, your ad would appear for “Digital marketing audits in London” but not for “London audits digital marketing”. Once again, the phrase match option reduces the amount you’ll spend on your PPC and refines the kind of market that you’ll reach.

4. Exact match

The most focused AdWords keyword research option of all, is the “Exact match” phrase. As the name indicates, this option ensures that your ad will only appear when someone searches for you using the terms that are identical to your chosen keywords. For example, if you’re trying to rank for “Branding company in London” your ad will only appear for that, it won’t appear for “Best branding company in London” or even “Branding business in London”.

Obviously, it’s a lot harder to reach a wide variety of customers when you use exact match keywords on AdWords. However, if you know exactly what your audience is searching for online, you can reduce your PPC cost significantly with this strategy.

5. Negative keywords

There’s just one more kind of keyword that you need to be aware of when you’re conducting your keyword research for AdWords. However, many people believe that this is the most important kind of PPC keyword there is. Negative keywords are terms that help you to make sure that you’re not showing your ads to audiences that aren’t going to buy from you.

Like typical keywords, negative keywords come in broad, phrase, and exact match format, so you can determine exactly how much you want to cut those terms out of your search results. With negative keywords, you can reduce your risk of wasting money on the wrong kind of person when you’re paying for your PPC strategies.

AdWords Keyword Research

Using the AdWords keyword research tool

If the concept of planning your keywords for AdWords seems a little overwhelming right now – don’t panic. Google has its own unique keyword planner tool that anyone can use. All you need is a Google AdWords account to get started. The keyword planner included with AdWords helps you to optimise your search ads, and it can also help with inspiration for your blogs, landing pages, product pages, and other content too.

The Google AdWords keyword planner is ideal for people who already have a basic idea of the keywords and phrases that they want to bid for with their keyword campaigns. If you’re not sure what kind of terms you’re looking into yet, try checking out the words that your competitors are ranking for online, or have a glance at the phrases that come up when you search for a selection of focus keywords in Google’s search bar.

Once you have a basic idea of what you’re going to be looking for with your keyword research, go to AdWords, and start typing terms into the keyword planner. The planner will give you the numbers on the search volume and competition for each word or phrase that you might want to bid for.

With Google AdWords’ keyword planner, you can narrow down your options by:

  • Sorting by competition: Click on the “competition” header at the top of your list of suggested keywords. You’ll need to tab this button twice to sort your selection from the keywords with the lowest competition levels to the highest. While low-competition keywords will usually come with a lower search volume, which means that you get less traffic, you’ll also have less competition to beat to appear in the top spots. If you have a limited budget, low-competition keywords are key.
  • Using keyword options: Another way to refine your results when you’re conducting AdWords keyword research is to use the keyword options selection in the lower-left corner of the screen. Click on the option that says, “Only show ideas closely related to my search terms”. This will eliminate some of the keywords that might not be suitable for your business. This keyword refining process will work best when you have a long list of terms to work through.
  • Include select keywords: Towards the bottom of the keyword planner screen, on the left-hand side, you can use the “Keywords to include” box to refine your search according to specific terms. For instance, you might want to focus exclusively on purchase-related keywords that include terms like “For sale” or “Buy”. Any results that don’t include one of those words will be removed from your list.
  • Use locations: At the top left of the page, Google’s AdWords keyword research tool offers an option to change your location. You can either select all locations, or enter a specific city, state, or country, to show results only from users in a specific area. If you’re focused on developing your local SEO strategy, this will be a handy feature for you to use.
AdWords Keyword Research

Tips for your Google AdWords keywords

Google AdWords or Google Ads is one of the most important tools for businesses interested in growing their brand through PPC marketing today. According to the AdStage data collected and shared by the Google team, Google Ads Cost per Click reduced between the years of 2018 and 2019 – which is positive news for marketers and business leaders. Of course, that doesn’t mean that making a Google Ads campaign profitable is instantly easy.

The AdWords environment is a valuable one, but it’s also expensive for some businesses, and fiercely competitive too. While (at least in this article), we can’t tell you how to become a Google AdWords master, we can give you a few tips that you can use when you’re conducting your AdWords keyword research, so you can boost your chances of bidding for the right terms.

1. Choose the right balance of low and high-volume keywords

Before you start using AdWords keyword research tools or planning your PPC strategy, you need to understand one very important thing. Keyword selection, at least in the AdWords world, is a balancing act. Just as you need long-tail and short-tail keywords in your SEO strategy to attract the widest selection of potential customers, you also need a combination of low-volume and high-volume terms.

If you choose all broad keywords that have hundreds of thousands of monthly searches, then you’ll have the potential to earn a lot of clicks from possible customers. However, there’s also a good chance that you’ll end up with a lot of untargeted traffic from people who aren’t really interested in what you have to offer. On the other hand, while a smaller volume keyword might drive fewer visitors to your website, they’ll all come from people who actually want to convert.

With keywords, you always want the right balance of both high-volume and low-volume when you’re trying to get the most ROI out of your PPC campaigns.

2. Only bid on the terms that make sense

Google AdWords keyword research can be tough. You need to think about not only your brand image and your customers, but also your bottom line and your budget. The typical conversion rates for Google Ads across the search network are around 2.7% across every industry. With that number in mind, you need to think carefully about the cost per conversion for every keyword or phrase that you’re going to target.

The next time you’re using your keyword planner to search through potential terms for your PPC campaign, ask yourself how much you’re going to bid on your keywords to rank, and how much you can potentially earn from each customer that converts. If your cost per click is cheap, then you can increase your bid and potentially rank higher. However, if your cost per keyword is too expensive, then bid lower.

3. Don’t forget about intent

Intent is one of the most important, yet often overlooked factors in the world of AdWords keyword research. Google Ads is a valuable tool for marketers for a lot of reasons. It works because it appeals to users that are actively searching for solutions to their problems. On the other hand, people in other environments outside of the search engines might just be browsing or looking for education.

Thinking about the “Why” behind your searches could be the key to improving the ROI of your AdWords strategy. For instance, someone searching for the term “Best CRM” probably isn’t ready to make a purchase or subscribe to something. Instead, they’re looking for a variety of options for solutions that will solve their problems. However, the broadness of the term means that you’d probably pay a lot to rank highly for it – even if you won’t see immediate results.

On the other hand, if you can rank for “Logo design price” there’s a good chance that you’re going to reach people who are already in the buying stage of their funnel. Thinking about intent will help you to see the areas where you’ll see the quickest return on your AdWords keyword budget.

4. Always make the most of negative keywords

We mentioned above that negative keywords are regarded by many to be one of the most important elements in any AdWords keyword research campaign. These terms are essential to refining the way that you spend your money on your PPC campaigns. As we highlighted before, negative keywords are the terms that you don’t want to show your ads for. For instance, just because you want to rank when someone searches for digital marketing, doesn’t mean that you want to rank for “Digital marketing software download”.

Using negative keywords can reduce the amount of money you waste on ad spend by ensuring that you’re only using your budget on the people that are actually looking for the services and solutions that you can offer.

Use the Google keywords planner to find out what kind of terms people are looking for that are related to your seed keywords. From there, ask yourself which terms you want to actively keep out of your PPC campaign.

AdWords Keyword Research

Conducting your AdWords keyword research

Thorough AdWords keyword research is just one part of a comprehensive PPC and SEO keyword strategy. However, it’s something that you’ll need to think carefully about when you’re building a campaign for digital growth. A good AdWords keyword strategy can improve your chances of capturing audience attention and earning conversions, at a time when your SEO campaigns haven’t had chance to gain ground yet.

However, while both SEO and AdWords rely on keywords, the strategies that you’ll use to choose the terms that you want to rank for are very different. When you’re investing in AdWords, you’ll need to consider what kind of terms you want to rank for, how broad your phrase match needs to be, and how much you can afford to spend on every bid. What’s more, you’ll also need to spend some time thinking about the words and phrases that you specifically don’t want to rank for, so you can boost your chances of a good ROI.

To learn more about PPC, AdWords, and keyword planning tools, browse through the articles here at Fabrik. Alternatively, if you need help finding a strategy to make your brand stand out online, contact the Fabrik team today. We’ll help you unlock the mysteries of everything from SEO to AdWords.

If you enjoyed this article, you might enjoy these too:

— Making your mark: How to find a profitable niche

— Keyword research: The key to unlocking your SEO

— Boost your SEO: Avoiding keyword cannibalisation

— Audit checklist: Optimisation from the inside out

William Baker
Digital producer
William Baker
Digital producer
As our digital producer, Will regularly contributes to the pages of Brand Fabrik, our online publication dedicated to branding, marketing and design. Will enjoys relaying his enthusiasm for technology and its impact on the creative services sector. He also relishes the opportunity to review the latest design-related products and gadgets.

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