PPC Keyword Research

If there are any two words that intimidate business owners who are looking to grow their business through digital marketing, they are keywords research, but why? Although it can sound like a daunting task to somebody who is new to PPC and digital marketing in general, it really is nothing to be put off by.

Unfortunately, there are several examples of business owners throwing caution to the wind and ploughing eye-watering amounts of money into PPC without performing keyword research.

Don’t do this.

The whole point of keyword research is to find out what things your target market is searching for in Google and then using keywords that relate to these terms so your target market can find you easier.

The whole point of keyword research is to find out what things your target market is searching for in Google and then using keywords that relate to these terms so your target market can find you easier.

Without relevant and quality keywords—words that can only be found through comprehensive keyword research—you will fail to see results for your PPC campaign, even if you have a brilliant product or service that has huge potential.

Why? Because you can’t optimize your PPC campaign and aim for your target market.

Keyword research forms the basis of any digital marketing campaign and it is easier to do than you may think. In fact, when it comes to PPC campaigns, it is keyword research that is the cornerstone and your ticket to success.

On this page, we are going to cover keyword research for PPC, looking at what it is and how you can do it for yourself.

Who Am I?

I am an experienced digital marketing specialist who has been managing PPC campaigns, amongst other things, for around a decade. During this time, I have worked with hundreds of different clients spread across all sorts of industries.

My specialist skills and experience have enabled me to consistently deliver measurable results that deliver huge ROI and it is this, alongside my team and working knowledge of digital marketing that has aided my successes.

Working on any and all projects—from PPC keyword research to website design and beyond—I have helped businesses small and large, from start-ups to international brand names, develop and deploy comprehensive digital marketing campaigns that deliver the results they want.

Between us, my team and I have several decades’ worth of experience in website development, digital marketing, and other key areas.

It does not matter whether you are a sole trader, new start-up, or establish business within your industry—all that matters is that you want results. My services can easily be tailored to fit your unique requirements, goals, and budget.

How I Can Help

If you think that the many services I offer could be right for you, feel free to get in touch! My team and I will work closely with you to set up and manage your PPC campaign, from the initial keyword research all the way through to execution and analysing results. We handle everything for you so that you can focus on what matters—managing your business.

If you want to find out more about my services or ask a question about anything you have read here, feel free to drop me an email and I will reply as soon as I can.

Even if you think my services could be useful to you, I encourage you to try out some PPC keyword research for yourself. Doing this will help you develop vital skills that are vital for operating a business in the digital world.

Want to enquire further about my services? Get in touch today!

What is Keyword Research?

Simply put, keyword research is a process that involves identifying search queries that individuals are using to search for specific information through Google, as well as how often these are used.

Naturally, then, it is the best way for businesses to find out what their target market is looking for through Google and then capitalising on it by targeting these keywords and search queries.

There are lots of different ways to perform keyword research—there is no single or proven method—and the primarily goal is to end up with a list of terms, keywords, and search queries that can be included in PPC marketing to target the right people.

Getting Started with Keyword Research for PPC

Getting started is the most difficult part of PPC keyword research, however, a great place to start is the pages that your PPC ads will be directing traffic to.

If these landing pages already contain pieces of content such as product descriptions or sales copy, you may be able to harvest some keywords from there. After all, these are likely to already relate to your product or services on offer.

It also helps to categorise different types of keyword. There are many ways you can do this, but most people disseminate them into four categories—

  • Brand terms—any keyword that includes your brand’s name;
  • Generic terms—keywords that directly relate to your products or services;
  • Related terms—keywords that indirectly relate by being search terms your target market might be using to search for other products; and
  • Competitor terms—the keywords that your competitors are using in their PPC campaigns to sell a similar product or service to yours.

Still not 100% sure? Look at this example—

Brand termsCompetitor termsGeneric termsRelated terms
Sony smartphonesHuawei phonesSmartphonesPhone cases
Sony shopSamsung productsLatest phonesEarbuds
Sony.comiPhone 8New phonesScreen protectors
Sony productsGoogle PixelBest smartphoneUSB C cable


When you are performing initial research and looking at your site for inspiration, it can be helpful to think like one of your customers would. If they were to find your website or product, what would they need to search for in Google to bring them to your site?

Keyword research is not an exact science and there isn’t a proven formula to get it right. It’s all about perseverance and taking time to properly think about things that relate to your business and then translating that into keywords.

Start off with broader keywords and then narrow them down into more specific things. When you have done this, vary them and account for synonymous words or phrases. Don’t assume that Google will be able to make the connection between too words that are closely-related to one another—whilst it sometimes can, it doesn’t always. It is important to include variations of a keyword even if it’s targeted towards the same product.

If, for example, I was selling trainers for men, my keywords might look like this—

  • Men’s sneakers
  • Men’s casual shoes
  • Men’s running shoes
  • Men’s trainers
  • Casual men’s footwear

Although men’s casual shoes and men’s trainers are similar, Google is not guaranteed to pick up on that.

Finally, include other keywords that are related to the product or service you are offering. This helps customers making indirect searches find you because they will likely be interested in what you are selling.

For example, if you were selling baby formula, you could include keywords that relate to topics new parents are likely to be searching for—your keywords don’t need to be 100% about the product or service you are selling. A lot of traffic comes from people who aren’t searching directly for a product but could still otherwise be interested in it.

Using Keyword Research Tools

Thorough keyword research for PPC involves more than just using your brain. When you have got a basic list down, there are a lot of very powerful tools and pieces of software that you can use to add to and refine it. In addition to helping you identify new keywords, these will help you prune ones that aren’t necessary or relevant and keep the ones that are important.

It is not enough to simply rely on your own knowledge and instinct; keyword tools will provide you with a valuable insight into what people are searching and how popular specific keywords are. It may just be that the keyword you thought was your best one is completely irrelevant!

There are a lot of keyword tools available. Three of my favourite beginner-friendly options are—

1. Google’s Keyword Planner

You are likely to come across Keyword Planner since it forms a core part of Google AdWords, the platform you should be using for your PPC. It is a 100% free tool that is used by both newbies and experienced digital marketers alike.

2. Wordstream’s Free Keyword Tool

Wordstream include a web-based keywords tool that can be used for free and is a great starting point for PPC keyword research. Whilst this tool is free, the point of it is to persuade people to invest in their premium tool, Wordstream Advisor.

I personally recommend making full use of Google’s Keyword Planner and other free tools and develop some experience before paying for a keyword research tool.

3. SEMRush

Another premium tool that has a freemium element to it is SEMRush. This powerful and well-known tool lets you carry out 10 searches for free per day. Whilst this is enough when you are just starting out, as you grow you may find that a premium plan works better.

Although these tools all look different, they all largely work in the same way.

When you are using any of these tools and have put in a keyword to search for, the information you need to be looking out for is Search Volume.

As you can imagine, the higher this number is, the more people are searching for it, and the more people searching for a term that you are targeting means the greater the chance of your website ending up in front of their eyes.

If you are using Google’s Keyword Planner—again, I highly recommend this—you will also see something called Competition in your keyword’s results. This can be low, medium, or high and it is an indicator of how many advertisers are bidding on your keyword. If a keyword is rated as high for competition, it will be more expensive for you to capitalise on successfully.

“So, which keywords should I be targeting from my list?”

You should try to find keywords that have a high search volume but a low competition—these keywords will help you drive traffic to your site without costing you an arm and a leg. If any of your keywords have a very low search volume or have a high competition that would wipe out your PPC budget, cross them off your list.

Whilst this may mean that you end up scrapping a lot of the keywords you were interested in targeting, these keyword research tools will help you come up with new ones.

With a little time and effort, you are guaranteed to end up with a decent number of keywords that have a good search volume and a competition level that won’t use up your entire PPC budget in one day.

Long-Tail and Short-Tail Keywords: Which Are More Important?

Choosing your PPC ad’s primary keyword is something made even more difficult by the fact that, in many cases, it boils down to a choice between a short-tail and long-tail keyword. Which one you should choose depends entirely on your specific circumstances and where you are sending search traffic that clicks on your PPC ad.

If you are sending search traffic to a landing page for your product, a sales page, or your online store, it is probably a better idea to use a short-tail keyword. To return to our example from earlier, a short-tail keyword could be something like “Best baby food”.

If, however, you are sending your search traffic to a page filled with lots of content such as a blog post or sales brochure, consider targeting a long-tail keyword. Why? Because long-tail keywords are far more specific and so are blog posts, amongst other things.

As a small business trying to rank, long-tail keywords may be your best bet at getting a boost right at the start because they often have less competition.

Generally speaking, it is a mixture of both short and long-tail keywords that delivers the best results for PPC campaigns. Personally, I advise starting with short-tail keywords and then branching out when you begin to learn more contextual information.

Is Keyword Research Really That Important?

Yes! I can’t stress this enough—it is something you need to do if you want to run a successful PPC marketing campaign.

Each day, Google processes billions—yes, billions—of search queries. It is therefore very easy for businesses to get lost amongst all this noise if they are not targeting keywords and don’t have an SEO campaign in place, even if it is a basic one.

Couple this up with the fact that the entire world is now online and that this is where businesses are now trading, and you have a compelling argument for the importance of keyword research and SEO in general. Businesses that cannot be found on the internet will not succeed—keyword research is one way to ensure you are seen.

Final Thoughts

Knowing how to carry out proper keyword research and use this data to end up with an optimised list of relevant search terms is key for your PPC campaign.

You cannot take stabs in the dark when it comes to keyword research—even if you know your industry inside-out, there is absolutely no way you can know what people are searching for in Google. Search patterns, current trends, and overall consumer behaviour are always changing, and this has an impact on which keywords will work well for you.

If you haven’t done keyword research or have simply picked a bunch of keywords because they have a high search volume without considering other factors, you could easily end up wasting your money.

Putting some thought and effort into keyword research and plugging them into a decent tool such as Google Keyword Planner can mean the difference between a PPC campaign delivering an ROI and wasted money.

Want to Take the Next Steps?

If reading about keyword research has left you feeling overwhelmed and 100% certain that it’s not something that you want to be doing, my services may be of use to you.

Although anybody can do PPC keyword research and PPC marketing, it is a time-consuming process that a) takes time to learn about and b) takes time to implement effectively.

As a business owner, I am sure you are aware of just how valuable your time is.

This is where digital marketing professionals such as I come in.

Just like your full-time job is to manage your business, our full-time jobs are managing digital marketing on behalf of businesses. We have the knowledge, skills, and tools to instantly get your PPC keyword research and campaign off to a flying start, meaning that you see the results you want in a much shorter timeframe.

If you would like to enquire further about my services, feel free to get in touch via email.

Want to learn more about PPC and digital marketing in general? My blog is full of valuable resources that can help you with just that!

Do you need help with your business?

If you would like to talk about getting your marketing where it should be, get in touch now.