PUBLISHED: Mar 27, 2012 4 min read

Trouble Selecting PPC Keywords? Do Some Searching

James Connell

James Connell

Group Director, Media + Analytics

Keyword selection is often one of the most difficult & time-consuming aspects of launching a new paid search account. This is especially true when the target audience is a subset of a larger audience, such as an enterprise-level wireless router solution, or an enterprise-level printer. In both cases, you’re trying to reach decision-makers in IT, and you’re trying to avoid the much larger population of consumers looking for consumer routers & printers.

In these sorts of situations, proper keyword selection is incredibly important. If you allow consumer-oriented keywords into your account, they could use up large portions of your budget without providing any sales or leads. So, how do you find the keywords used by IT professionals and not by consumers?  Start by doing some searches.

Search The Keywords On Your Landing Page/Website

Read through the landing page, or, if you’ll be building landing pages based on your keyword research, any existing pages that describe the product/service.  What phrases are used to describe the product/service?  Search for some of the phrases and take note of both the ads and the organic results.  If both match up with the product/service you provide, then you have found a good keyword. If they don’t, then throw that keyword out. If you encounter a situation in which the ads differ from the organic results, you’ll need to investigate further.  We put a lot of trust into organic results, so if the organic results don’t match our client’s product/service, we will be skeptical about using that keyword, even if the client’s competitors are advertising on it.

Search For Your Competitors’ Ads

Especially if they have a well-established PPC campaign, your competitors can lead you to troves of good keywords.  Look for ads from your known competitors, but also search around to see if there are any surprise participants in your vertical.  Once you have a list of your competitive set, use tools such as Spyfu or AdGooroo to find out what keywords your competitors are advertising on. Carefully review the keyword lists provided by these tools to find the ones most relevant to your specific product/service; if your competitors use a lot of broad match, the lists might include completely irrelevant keywords.

Search Any Questionable Keywords

Once you have developed your seed keywords and are starting to build out your adgroups, be sure to do searches for any questionable keywords.  Once again, this is especially true for accounts that target a small subset of a large market.  Say that you’re trying to sell enterprise-level wireless router solutions. Would the keyword “wireless internet installation” be good for the campaign? One can imagine IT professionals doing that search, but one can also imagine many consumers doing it as well. Do a search for the keyword, and these are the results:

PPC Selection of KeywordsBoth the ads and the organic results are targeted to consumers.  So, no, this keyword does not belong in the account.

“Hotel Wifi” is another keyword that could be searched both by consumers and by IT decision-makers.  Here are the results:

PPC Keyword Selection

The results here are mixed: the organic results are mostly aimed at consumers, with a few business-related results mixed in. The ads are also a mix, with ads aimed at consumers and competitors.  These results signal that the keyword is used by both consumers & IT professionals. Therefore, the keyword should be in your campaign, but you should be careful about how much budget it uses.

All of this searching does take some time. However, if you put in the time during the keyword selection process, your campaigns will start from a much better place, and you will save time and money in the long run.

Amsive Digital is a New York PPC agency delivering performance driven results for regional and national brands.