The foundation of any successful PPC campaign is keyword research:  choosing the best keywords to bid on that are most likely to result in clicks and conversions.

Keyword research is largely about using all the tools available to you, but it’s also about understanding your customers and predicting which terms they’re likely to type into search engines. That’s the best way to ensure that your ads show up at the right time and in the right place – that being when they’re searching for the kinds of products or services you offer.

Getting started

The starting point of your keyword research should be the website landing page that your ads will link to.

Start by scanning each page and selecting relevant keywords from the text.  There should be enough material to pull together a fairly comprehensive list of keywords that directly relate to your products or services.

Keywords can be organised into the following types:

  • Brand terms – keywords containing your brand name and any trademarked terms
  • Generic terms – terms relating to products or services offered
  • Related terms – terms that don’t directly relate to what you’re selling, but that users who are looking for your products or services may be searching for
  • Competitor terms – the brand names of competitors who are offering similar products and services to yours

During the brainstorming phase, it also helps to…

Put yourself in the customers’ shoes. What kinds of words and queries would they need to type into the search box to bring them to your website?

Start with broad keywords, then move to the specific.

Include variations and synonyms in your keyword list. Search engines can sometimes make connections between related terms, so it’s best to include variations.

Sometimes, it can be beneficial to include broad terms in a campaign (usually single words or short phrases) because they have higher search volume. On the other hand, a very specific, long-tail keyword phrase  might only get a handful of searches per month, but the user will be much more likely to click your ad and follow through with a purchase, because it’s exactly what they’re looking for. As an added bonus, long-tail keywords are less competitive and therefore cost less.

Thanks to the boom in voice-activated devices, search engines are increasingly able to understand longer strings of words.

Make sure you take this into account, and include not only search terms that might be typed in quickly, but also terms that reflect how people actually speak, because they aren’t the same.