When it comes to PPC keyword research the best advice I can give is this: think like the user. Think about how you search for answers to problems in your everyday life and try to replicate those searches in your keyword list. Keyword research is the foundation for all PPC activities. It allows you to understand a couple extremely important aspects of your account before you start spending your marketing dollars. Most crucially, keyword research helps you predict how much search volume is out there for a particular keyword, and therefore help you scope your investment. Additionally, you can forecast how much a given keyword set is going to cost you (average CPC).
To help you do better keyword research, consider these tips and keyword tools that could make your life easier and set you up for success!
- Leverage historical data, SQRs, and Google Keyword Planner. If your company or client is already running a PPC campaign, analyzing queries that historically matched to broad-match keywords in your account can highlight incremental opportunities for keyword expansion. Search Query Reports (SQRs) are your best option to find expansion opportunities based on your current keyword set.
The Google Keyword Planner is a free tool that can be used in any Google account. Navigate to the Keyword Planner by clicking on Tools & Settings and selecting Keyword Planner under the Planning section. Choose the option to Discover new keywords and enter in a few broad, more generic, keywords unique to your product or service. Google will provide volume and cost estimates for these keywords; this tool will also provide suggestions for other relevant keywords that you can add to your keyword list to extend your campaigns’ reach.
Pro tip: The Keyword Planner can also be a great resource for identifying irrelevant keywords that you may want to add to negative keyword lists before you launch your new account.
As you are using the Google Keyword Planner, I recommend a process that I refer to as, “filling in the keyword gaps.” The Keyword Planner will often recommend adding broad keywords and long-tailed keywords, but it’s important to remember the keywords that may are between the two. Imagine your company (or your client!) is a shoe store looking to increase its sales. You may start by bidding terms like nike shoes to make sure you cover your bases. In the back of your mind, you remember that your manager mentioned the release of the new Kevin Durant basketball shoe next month in your last marketing team huddle. To get ahead of the game, you add kevin durant nike basketball shoes into your keyword list as well. This is a great start! You have the generic term (nike shoes) covered, and you also have the specific term covered. What you’re missing is the keyword in the “gap” between the two others.
Add in the additional keyword nike basketball shoes to the account. Why? Because the intent of each one of these queries is very different. The first is an exploratory query, likely occurring in the beginning stages of shopping for shoes, when customers are possibly comparing prices. The second is a very precise query. This person knows they want the new KDs. The third search’s intent falls somewhere in the middle, so it’s important to provide personalized ad experiences, addressing the various customer questions and objections that may be implied with each of these different searches. Don’t be afraid to fill in that keyword gap!
- Give Google Autocomplete a try. Another great (and free) tool that can help expand your keyword list is Google Autocomplete. Believe it or not you are probably already super familiar with this “tool.” Google Autocomplete is the feature you see within Google that finishes your thought or provides related terms to what you are typing into the search bar. Google Autocomplete uses historical data to predict user queries. What does this mean for your keyword research? It means these are the actual searches Google users are searching! Use this tool to find opportunities to create highly personalized keywords and ad experiences.
- Install the Keywords Everywhere Chrome plugin. The final tool we HIGHLY recommend is a Google Chrome plugin called Keywords Everywhere. It used to be free but now cost a small amount for keyword credits. Keywords Everywhere is a keyword research tool that will automatically showcase related keywords and search terms for every Google search you do. Both the related keywords and search terms provided can be copied or exported into an Excel file directly from Google Chrome, making keyword expansion fast and easy. This tool can also help you think outside the box and find keyword opportunities you may not have considered. I’ve found this tool especially helpful when it comes to deciding which competitive terms to add to my keyword list; Keywords Everywhere often recommends competitors that I had not initially considered. Another nice perk to this tool is that it provides search volume data for the keywords you’re searching as well, so you can compare search volume over various time periods and better understand seasonality.
Booyah’s Paid Search Keyword Research Philosophy
At Booyah, we continually conduct keyword research well beyond the initial setup period, because we believe that research should not end after the launch of a campaign. We are constantly doing keyword research even for accounts that have been live for years, looking for opportunities to add new keywords and scale accounts. As consumer search behavior is constantly evolving, we also want to be sure to account for new ways searchers are looking for products and services online. In light of these considerations, it’s recommended to use SQRs to continue farming keywords for expansion opportunities. On average, SQRs should be conducted for your account on a monthly cadence. I also recommend setting up Google Alerts for your company (or client) and its top competitors. This can help you gauge changes in the industry and spark ideas for new terms you could bid on. Being ahead of the curve on industry changes may prove to be a crucial competitive advantage.
Impactful keyword research requires a heavy time commitment, expertise, and experience, but following these tips and using these free tools can help you get set up for success. We’re a team of passionate and analytical marketers who enjoy finding those nuggets that help propel account performance to the next level. Still not sure where to start? Let’s get in touch!