So you’re considering launching your first AdWords campaign, or you are perhaps just getting started with AdWords. How do you come up with quality keywords for your search campaigns?
Let’s start with the basics.
What are keywords? Keywords are search terms that you decide to target, and search terms are specific words or phrases that someone types into Google. When you target those search terms as your keywords, those terms will generate your ads.
Match types are vital to understanding how your keywords function. Essentially, match types control how precisely your keywords have to match Google search terms in order to trigger your ad. If you go too broad, you risk wasting a significant percentage of clicks on irrelevant clicks, but go too narrow and you may miss vital traffic to your site. For a full explanation of match types, check out this article.
How can you tell if your keywords are generating quality search terms? In your Keywords tab, check out the “Search Terms” button. You’ll be able to see exactly what searches generated your ads.
What is a high quality keyword? A high quality keyword is one that gives you the best CTR and conversion rate, for the lowest price. It also never targets irrelevant search terms, and it hits the sweet spot in terms of the sales funnel.
The Sales Funnel
The best keywords reach the most people at the optimal point of time – when they know they need your product or service, but haven’t yet chosen a company to fulfill that need. You want to use your keywords to find the people at just the right spot in the sales funnel.
What does this mean? On one end of the spectrum, this means avoiding keywords that are too research-oriented, i.e. “different types of lawyers” or “granite colors”.
On the other end of the spectrum, you also want to avoid keywords that are too specific or include competitor keywords, i.e. “lowes granite installation phone number”.
Know Your Customer
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. How would you search for your service if you were in your customer’s situation? The key to generating quality keywords is to get inside the head of your ideal customer. And the ideal customer for most service-oriented companies is someone who knows they need your service, but hasn’t decided which company they want yet.
Another key aspect of getting into your customer’s head is to realize that most people want to support smaller, local businesses in their area. Some are altruistic, while most simply trust local businesses more than the national monolithic corporation. People feel good about themselves when they support local businesses, especially family-owned or locally-owned. When these people support a local business, they feel like a good citizen who went the extra mile, a cut above the rest.
Supporting a local business also feeds people’s need to be interconnected with one’s community. If all my friends trust Joe’s Remodeling, I don’t want to miss out! Plus, people don’t want to waste their time driving all the way into the big city if their small town has just what they need. So, targeting your business description along with geographic descriptors is a great way to find to your ideal customer, i.e. “moving services queens ny”, “local plumber atlanta” or “roofing services in colorado springs”.
So down to the nitty gritty. How do you actually get that list of high quality, converting keywords for your account?
1. Understand Your Customer
Before you can generate the keywords you want to target on Google, it is critically important – in fact, one of your very first steps – to understand the ideal customer for your business. In order to understand search terms, you have to understand people – YOUR people. What are your prospective customers’ needs, challenges, frustrations, and desires? Once you understand who they are, what they want and what makes them tick, you can generate the right kinds of keywords for that customer.
2. The Keyword Planner
This invaluable resource is under your Tools tab in your AdWords account. In it, you can target your business target area, search potential keywords, and get traffic and bid estimates on those keywords. The Keyword Planner also suggests keywords based on your search terms and your website. It allows you to create ad groups and add the keywords you find into those ad groups. Finally, you can download your keywords and ad groups and apply them to your campaign. For a step-by-step guide to using the keyword planner, read this article.
Note: just because a keyword is suggested in the Keyword Planner doesn’t mean it is a good keyword for you and your particular business. Apply the principles discussed above to choose the optimal keywords for your particular business and the services you offer.
3. Google Autofill
A second tool is Google, itself. Pull up Google and begin searching the product or service your business offers. Notice that Google autofills the rest of your search with the keywords that others have most often searched. Take note of the keywords that apply best to your business and add them to your keyword list.
4. First Page Of Google Search Results – Check Out The Bottom Of The Page
After searching for keywords in Google, scroll to the bottom of the first page of search results. Google will suggest similar keywords that other people commonly searched, based on the keyword you searched. Try this with multiple keywords that you have already gathered, and you will get different suggestions each time. This is a great way to gather more quality keywords.
In service industries like plumbing, moving, home improvement, etc., we have found that people searching Google only search a particular business’s name if they have already decided to use that business. They aren’t doing research about the different options out there, and as a rule, they aren’t open to competitors – if they search Lowes, you can probably bet they want Lowes and only Lowes.
So if a customer searches for Lowes and your ad shows up, and they click on your ad, they are extremely likely to bounce off your page the moment they figure out that you aren’t Lowes – after you spent the money on that click. Obviously, there are exceptions – you might get a conversion here and there – but on the whole, competitor keywords do not convert nearly as well as generic search terms like “granite installation near me”.