The 7 Steps Between Your Account and Dynamite Keyword Performance
Keywords form the cornerstone of every successful Google Ads account. They define where and when your ads show online, where and when your ads don’t show, and heavily influence how much you’re paying per click to run ads.
Google Ads keywords – words or phrases that identify your service or brand online – prove a lasting priority if you’re looking to run a well-oiled pay-per-click campaign. In fact, initial keyword decisions and ongoing keyword optimization together likely form the single-most-important facet of Google Ads. If you’re wielding keywords correctly, you can target more consumers than your competitors, for less cost. The converse is also true: if you’re neglecting your keyword performance, you’re likely neglecting sales along with it.
Let’s just agree that no matter your old approach to PPC keywords in the past. We’re going to outline the 7 concrete steps between you and complete keyword mastery, from initial keyword research through launch and ongoing optimization.
And remember – if at any point you have any questions about Google Ads keywords, account specifics or anything PPC, we’re waiting with an answer. If you’re looking for specific keyword help or you simply want an educated pair of eyes on your account performance to date, take us up on our offer for a free growth audit from one of our in-house PPC specialists.
Let’s get started!
1. Perform Your Keyword Research
Welcome to the place where every Google Ads account should begin: keyword research. One of the very first steps when it comes to PPC is reverse-engineering the search process, identifying what consumers are searching for so you can target those same searches, and show your ads in front of the right eyes.
To identify the best keywords for your specific account, you’ll need the help of a comprehensive keyword research tool. Fortunately, there are several fantastic options waiting for you.
1. Google Ads Keyword Planner
The consensus go-to keyword research tool, Google Ads Keyword Planner is located directly in Google Ads, and is accessible through the same Google Ads account you’ll run ads through. If you don’t yet have a Google Ads account, you’ll need one in order to access both the Google Ads platform and this keyword tool. You can create a free Google Ads account using any Gmail account.
After clicking “Tools & Settings” in your account, navigate to “Planning” and “Keyword Planner”, and you’ve arrived at the Google Ads Keyword Planner. You can select either “Discover new keywords” or “Get search volumes and forecasts”, both of which will help you better understand which keywords to deploy for your potential campaigns.
Google Ads Keyword Planner is the only one of our 3 preferred keyword research tools to include a “Locations” tool, where you can actually change the target location to see what search volumes, cost-per-click metrics and forecasted competition you’re likely to face when targeting certain geographic locations with your ads.
Still free to use as of the publication of this blog, UberSuggest helps you do it all when it comes to keyword identification. All you need to do is enter a single keyword, and the keyword research tool goes to work identifying potential keywords for your pay-per-click campaigns. It then segments those keywords according to cost-per-click metrics, search volumes and competition, and you can even filter by keyword type: related keywords, questions, prepositions and comparisons. UberSuggest even offers “Content Ideas,” where you can source blog ideas, social media inspiration and more, all for free once you sign in with your Gmail account.
3. Answer the Public
We can say this without fear of any backlash – Answer the Public is hands down the best keyword research tool we’ve found when it comes purely to keyword scope. If you’re looking to enter a keyword and receive virtually every keyword variation that has ever been searched online, Answer the Public is the ideal keyword research tool for you.
Even though you can only use the free version a few times per day, it’s well worth the few seconds it takes to crawl all corners of the web for keyword inspiration. After you type in a “focus” keyword, Answer the Public maps that keyword and virtually all trafficked keyword combinations, categorizing them into questions, prepositions and comparisons before a complete alphabetical breakdown of all relevant keywords. Suffice to say, we use Answer the Public on a regular basis for our clients. We know we can trust the results before the page even finishes loading.
2. Identify Keyword Match Types
Once you have your keywords identified, it’s time to settle on match types. Don’t worry, finding your keywords is by far the most difficult part of the entire keyword process. It’s all downhill from here.
A keyword’s match type is essentially just an indication of how it’s shown to consumers. Here’s an example: let’s pretend that Smith Bicycle Company is running Google Ads. One of the keywords they have chosen is “red bicycles”.
When installing that keyword into Google Ads, they can choose from 4 distinct match types:
1. Broad match
The default keyword match type, broad match keywords will trigger your ads to show whenever a related search or close variation is typed in. So if a user types in “types of european red bicycles”, there’s a chance your ad will show.
Broad match keywords are not represented by any punctuation.
2. Broad match modifier
If you’re using a broad match modifier keyword, you’ll place a + sign before some, or all, of the words in the keyword. When this keyword is installed, it will trigger your ads to show whenever those words, in any order, are searched. So if a user types in “bicycles that are red”, there’s a chance your ad will show.
Broad match modifier keywords are represented by + signs before some, or all, of the words in the keyword: +red +bicycles.
3. Phrase match
If you’re looking to show your ads for a narrower audience, phrase match keywords might be the best option for you. When phrase match keywords are installed, they will trigger your ads to show only when searches match the entire keyword phrase, with additional words possible before and after the keyword. So if a user types in “ where to buy red bicycles near me”, there’s a chance your ad will show.
Phrase match keywords are represented by quotation marks around the keyword: “red bicycles”.
4. Exact match
Exact match keywords represent the narrowest type of available keyword targeting. When exact match keywords are installed, your ads are only eligible to show when the search matches the keyword exactly, or almost exactly. So if a user types in “red bicycles”, there’s a chance your ad will show.
Exact match keywords are represented by brackets around the keyword: [red bicycles].
Even before you install your keywords into the Google Ads platform, we recommend keeping track of your keywords and match types in a spreadsheet, to make the transition an easy one.
3. Develop a Keyword Planner
After you’ve identified your keywords and match types, it’s time to synthesize all of this data into a single place, before installing it into Google Ads. This is what we call the “keyword planner” stage, and it’s both very helpful and very easy to complete!
In a spreadsheet layout that’s most agreeable to you, build out a comprehensive keyword list. You likely already have a running tally of your keywords and match types in some sort of sheet, so now is a great time to make it official. Once you’ve outlined keywords and match types, add columns and record cost-per-click (CPC) metrics, available search volumes and existing competition for each keyword. It might seem like a tedious undertaking, but it becomes an invaluable resource with time. Not only will you be able to reference this spreadsheet while installing keywords; during the weeks and months after your campaigns launch, you can always check back on original search volumes and CPC figures, to identify any disparities and work toward greater keyword exposure and lower CPCs.
4. Integrate Keywords Into Your Ad Content
While not a fundamental part of the keyword process, we’ve included ad content here because it’s the first – and only – item a user sees when deciding whether or not to click through to your website.
We only have one thing to say here: if you’re targeting ads with a certain keyword, use that keyword in your ad content. Not only will using keywords in your ad content increase overall ad quality and exposure, but it will provide potential customers with a streamlined experience between their search, the ad they click and the website they see. So we’ll say it again for emphasis: use your keywords in your ad content. You’re given three 30-character headlines and two 90-character descriptions in a typical expanded text ad. That’s more than enough room to find tasteful ways to integrate your keywords, and still get the full extent of your message across.
5. Install Your Keywords Into Google Ads
It’s finally time to install your keywords into Google Ads! We won’t bore you with the details here. If you need help with step-by-step Google Ads installation, our comprehensive Guide to Launching Google Ads has you covered. Make sure to install your keywords using the same keyword match types you identified in Step 2.
Here’s one tip when it comes to installing your keywords into campaigns: opt for ad groups with few keywords. Initially, this will require more setup time, segmenting out ad groups more specifically and drafting more ad content. However, you’ll be able to integrate specific keywords into specific ad content, resulting in high ad quality and increased traffic.
The worst thing you can do at this stage is rush the process. Take your time, install keywords sequentially and make sure that you have ad content set up for every keyword you want to target.
6. Make a Habit of Negative Keyword Filtering
Steps 6 and 7 take place post-launch. After your account has launched and you’ve begun to generate impressions (every time someone sees your ad), it’s time to begin filtering out negative keywords.
Negative keywords are keywords that prevent your ads from being shown for a specific search or searches. For example, if the Smith Bicycle Company is running ads, they might add “playing cards” to their list of negative keywords, since Bicycle Playing Cards might inadvertently generate ad impressions.
Create a negative keyword list by navigating to “Tools & Settings” then “Shared Library”, and “Negative keyword lists”. A negative keyword list allows you to add a negative keyword in a single place, where it’s instantly applied to all of your active campaigns, instead of requiring you to manually add any negative keywords to each campaign.
If you only want to add a negative keyword to a single campaign or a single ad group, that option is also available. You’ll only need to navigate to “Negative Keywords” under the “Keywords” tab on the left side of the page, and add any negative keywords with parameters you choose.
7. Regularly Comb the Search Terms Report
The sooner you make the search terms report a regular part of your ongoing account optimizations, the better. In the search terms report – which you can reach by navigating to the “Keywords” tab on the left side of your screen and then selecting “Search terms” – you can see what users typed in, resulting in your ads being shown.
One of the most useful resources that the Google Ads platform offers, you literally are faced with a report of every search that showed your ads, for any timeframe you choose. Directly in the search terms report, you can identify and add new negative keywords (though to add them to your negative keyword list you’ll have to navigate out of the report and go to the list), as well as any new keywords you’d like to add to your existing targeting.
Are you noticing that certain keywords are performing better than others? If you have sufficient data to support pausing or emphasizing bids on a certain keyword, you can accomplish that directly in the search terms report as well. You’ll find that if you’re optimizing your Google Ads account regularly, you’ll spend a fair amount of time making sense of your search terms report.
Welcome to Keyword Peace of Mind
If you can honestly say you have your keyword process down – from research to installation to launch to ongoing optimization – you’ve accounted for a massive portion of overall pay-per-click management. And who says you need to make that journey alone? We’re always here to help if you have specific questions about your keyword performance or any other Google Ads-related issue. Drop us a line and we’ll get you an answer while we identify opportunities to take your Google Ads account to the next level.
If you can make a habit of these seven keyword steps, you’ll quickly make a habit of the entire Google Ads process. From keyword research to ongoing maintenance, Google Ads is truly a science with a little creativity mixed in. Keep the above tips and tricks at top of mind while you’re identifying and installing your keywords, and nothing will stand between your Google Ads account and sustained performance.