Master PPC Keyword Research for More Clicks & Better ROI

Imagine your PPC campaigns are a house. Keywords are the foundation. If that foundation is built on shaky ground (aka poorly chosen keywords), the entire structure will fail, no matter how beautiful the ads themselves are.

The Keyword Foundation: Successful PPC campaigns aren’t built on guesswork. They rely on strategically targeting the exact terms your potential customers are searching for, at the moment they’re most receptive to your solution.

Not Just Any Keywords: Blasting out a generic list of terms won’t cut it. We want quality over quantity: keywords that have high purchase intent and align with your specific offerings.

Data-Driven Decisions: Keyword research isn’t about psychic powers. It’s about using the right tools and insights to understand your target audience. This empowers you to make informed choices about where to invest your ad budget and tailor your messaging for maximum impact.

Ready to build a rock-solid PPC foundation? Let’s dive into keyword research!

1. Understanding Search Intent

Think of keywords as clues to what someone wants at the precise moment they type them into a search engine. Understanding these different “search mindsets” is crucial for choosing the terms most likely to drive profitable results.

Types of Keywords

  • Navigational: User seeking a specific website or brand (“Nike official website”). Less useful for most PPC campaigns.
  • Informational: User wants to learn something (“how to fix a leaky faucet”, “best winter travel destinations”).
  • Commercial: User is researching with potential to buy (“compare CRM software”, “best affordable laptops”).
  • Transactional: User is primed to purchase (“buy women’s red dress”, “pizza delivery near me”).

Align with Goals

  • Early-Stage Awareness: Target informational keywords to get in front of people starting their research journey.
  • Mid-Stage Consideration Commercial keywords indicate someone exploring solutions, compare your offering.
  • Ready-to-Buy: Transactional keywords are high-intent, but may be competitive (and thus more expensive).

Customer Mindset

Put yourself in your ideal customer’s shoes. What problems are they trying to solve? What exact words or phrases might they use in a search? Avoid overly technical jargon if your audience wouldn’t naturally think that way.

Example: You sell home security systems. “Alarm system” is too generic. Better: “DIY home security installation” (commercial intent) or “how to prevent break-ins” (informational, but still a potential lead).

2. Keyword Research Tools

Your keyword research journey begins with these versatile tools. Even businesses on a tight budget can uncover valuable insights.

Free Fundamentals

Google Keyword Planner: The ‘must-have’ starting point, accessible within your Google Ads account. Features to focus on:

  • Get search volume and trends: See how often terms are searched, which helps gauge competition.
  • Discover new keywords: Expand ideas from your initial seed keywords
  • Forecast performance: Projections (though take with a grain of salt)

Google Trends: Shows interest in keywords over time. Key uses:

  • Seasonality: Are searches spiking at certain times of year? Plan campaigns accordingly.
  • Regional differences: Is interest in your product higher in some locations? Tailor geographically.

Answer the Public: Reveals questions people ask online related to your topic. Tap into natural language search queries.

Premium Powerhouses

SEMrush, Ahrefs, Moz etc. If your budget allows, these offer far more in-depth features:

  • Competitive analysis: Reveal which keywords your competitors successfully target.
  • Advanced filtering: Narrow down keywords by search volume, difficulty (how competitive it is to rank for), and more.
  • Long-tail keyword discovery: Often less competition, and can be highly specific to your niche. 

Don’t Forget…

Competitor Analysis Tools:

Many tools let you peek at what keywords other websites (competitors or successful businesses in your niche) are ranking well for. Ethical inspiration!

Your Own Website Data:

  • Search Console: Shows what you currently rank for, even if low volume.
  • Analytics Search Bar: See what people search once they land on your site – gaps you might be able to fill with content or PPC. 

3. Building Your Keyword Lists

Think of your keyword research as a treasure hunt. The tools pointed you in the right direction, now it’s time to start digging strategically!

Start with Seed Keywords

Jot down the most obvious 2-3 word phrases core to your product, service, or solution. Ex: If you sell handmade jewelry, start with “handmade jewelry”, “sterling silver earrings”, etc.

Tool Expansion

Plug your seed keywords into your chosen tools (Keyword Planner, etc.). Look for:

  • Related Keywords: Tool-generated suggestions expanding your initial ideas.
  • Long-tail variations: More specific phrases, often less competition. Ex: Instead of just “sneakers”, have “women’s running sneakers for wide feet”
  • Question-Based Keywords: Tools like Answer the Public can help generate these.

The Negative Keyword List

Simultaneously build a list of terms that sound related but aren’t relevant to what you sell. Ex: “handmade jewelry repair” unless that IS a service you offer.

Organization is Key Avoid ending up with a jumbled mess! Group keywords thematically:

  • Product Categories: One list for earrings, another for necklaces…
  • Features: “hypoallergenic jewelry”, “waterproof backpacks”…
  • Target Audience: “gifts for men”, “teen jewelry trends”… 

Pro Tip This organized structure makes setting up ad groups later in your PPC platform a breeze!

4. Beyond the Basics

Now that you understand the core ad types, let’s unlock some next-level strategies:

Remarketing Ads: The Power of the Second Chance

  • How They Work: Tag your website to track visitors. Show ads specifically to those who left without converting.
  • Best For: Overcoming abandoned carts, reminding people about your product/brand after initial interest.
  • Tip: Segment your remarketing audiences for more tailored messaging (ex: what specific product page they viewed).

Dynamic Ads: E-commerce Automation

  • How They Work: Sync with your product feed, auto-generate ads with images and prices based on someone’s browsing.
  • Best For: Retailers with large catalogs, re-engaging shoppers with the exact items they were interested in.
  • Caution: May feel creepy if not done well. Ensure good image quality and ad copy is still engaging.

Platform-Specific: Find Your Niche Audience

  • LinkedIn Sponsored InMail: Target professionals inbox messages (use wisely!)
  • Pinterest Promoted Pins: Reach people actively planning projects, purchases, etc.
  • And More: Each platform evolves. Explore emerging ad types that align with your audience. 

Key Takeaway: These techniques give you even finer control over who sees your ads and when, maximizing your budget and improving conversions.

5. Ongoing Refinement

The most successful PPC marketers know that the work doesn’t end once your initial keyword lists are built. Think of it like tending a garden, not setting up a statue and walking away.

Never Set-and-Forget: 

Search trends evolve, new competitors pop up, and even your own offerings might shift over time. Regularly revisit your keyword research to stay agile.

Data is Your Friend: 

Within your PPC platforms, analyze the search terms report. This shows what people typed that triggered your ads. You’ll find:

  • High-Converting Winners: Double down on what’s working
  • New Opportunities: Queries you hadn’t thought of
  • Negative Keyword Additions: Terms that waste your spend

Test, Tweak, Repeat: 

Keyword research is an iterative process.

  • Experiment with new keywords inspired by your data analysis.
  • Retire underperformers.
  • Set a schedule (at least quarterly is wise) to review and refine. 

Important: Changes to your website, landing pages, or product offerings should trigger a keyword review to maintain alignment between what you advertise and what the customer experience delivers.

Ready to turn your keyword research into action? 

Keyword research can be time-consuming, and even the best tools won’t replace strategic insight. If you’d like personalized help finding the most profitable keywords for your business and setting up optimized PPC campaigns, feel free to contact Brand Sewa for a Free Consultation.

Let’s work together to supercharge your PPC results and drive growth for your business!

by Team Brand Sewa

Last Updated on April 30, 2024

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