Skip navigation
SEO Website Audit

5 Keyword Strategies for B2B PPC Campaigns

January 23, 2008

Today's guest article is written by Andy Komack, the President of KoMarketing Associates. I had the pleasure of meeting Andy through SEMNE, the search marketing association for New England (see...networking *does* work!). Andy has been creating online marketing strategies for clients since 1999, so he's one of the old-timers who definitely knows what he's doing. KoMarketing provides search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising, social-media marketing, and corporate blogging strategies for their clients.

Andy will be providing us with additional guest articles on the topic of paid search throughout the year. Let's have a warm Advisor welcome for Andy! - Jill


++5 Keyword Strategies for B2B PPC Campaigns++


By Andy Komack

President, KoMarketing Associates


Managing a Pay Per Click (PPC) campaign for business-to-business (B2B) is a much different animal from running paid-search campaigns targeting consumers.


In a B2B environment, products and solutions are more complex, the audience is more sophisticated, the price tag is much higher, sales cycles are longer, and there are multiple decision-makers and influencers. Plus, advertising budgets are often much smaller.


There are many variables to tackle in any PPC campaign. This article focuses on 5 keyword strategies for B2B search engine advertising.


1) Start With Highly-targeted Keywords - When starting a B2B search engine advertising campaign, never, ever start with a one-word keyword! And be very careful even when selecting any two-word keywords.


B2B bids will usually be higher than in a B2C environment, and your primary objective (typically) is to generate well-qualified leads.


So, conserve your budget early by carefully choosing keyword phrases that are directly applicable to a product or service offering. Be as specific as possible, and try to put yourself in a potential customer’s shoes.


For example, if your business is in the data-warehousing space, you would certainly not bid on "data" to start out, and you may want to bid only on phrase match (quotation marks around the phrase) and exact match (brackets around the phrase) for your primary two-word phrases such as "data warehouse" and "data warehousing."


2) Jump Right Into Markets & Technical Terms - You may also consider bypassing the high-level concept of your products/services, and going right after a particular vertical market by targeting something like "financial data warehouse" and/or "finance data warehouse." Again, start with phrase and exact match to gauge the level of search activity before adding broad-match versions of the keywords.


Or, instead of targeting a specific vertical market, consider going deep quickly by starting your campaign by bidding only on very technical terms that the immediate purchaser/end user would be searching for.


There will be a time when you will want to open up your keyword selection to broader terms, enabling you to test out the market and to attract the higher-level decision-makers. These are the folks that may not take any action on your website at all, but will ask someone on their team to investigate further. (This of course makes tracking ROI more difficult, but it is often a necessary strategy to build brand awareness.)


3) Users Do Not Search for "Solutions" - When choosing keywords, you can try extending your keywords using the word "solutions," but our experience shows that users rarely search with that word. Be sure to use other descriptive extenders like "software," "services," "tool(s)," "product(s)," "company(ies)," "provider(s)," "consultant(s)," and "vendor(s)."


4) Apply Negative Keywords Generously - In search advertising you have the opportunity to add negative keywords to a campaign or ad group that will prevent your ads from being triggered when those words are included in a search query. Some common negative keywords to consider in B2B are:


Free, cheap, discount(ed), liquidation, close out, used, retail, job(s), salary(ies), employment, internship(s), resources, research, statistics, metrics, journal(s), association(s), links, open source, how to, create, creating, home, homemade, etc.

The choice of negative keywords will depend on your industry, but you can get creative and generate lists of words that you would not want your ad to be triggered for.

We’ve created a reference list of potential negative keywords on our blog that B2B advertisers may want to consider.


5) Apply Your PPC Intelligence to SEO - One very nice aspect of PPC is that you are gathering intelligence about exactly how users search for your products and services. You are taking the guesswork out of the keyword-research process involved in search optimization by seeing the exact number of impressions and clicks for your keywords. And, you are gauging the effectiveness of these keywords in terms of bringing qualified visitors to your site. You can use your website analytics to monitor pageviews, bounce rates, and conversions for the keywords that people have used to find your site.


If you are just starting the keyword-research process for SEO, you might use a keyword research tool like Keyword Discovery, Wordtracker, Wordze, Google AdWords Keyword Estimation Tool, etc. It’s important to note that these tools will show you the relative popularity of keywords, but cannot give you an accurate representation of their actual search volume, or provide you with a valuation of the keywords as they relate to your business.


For example, when optimizing your data-warehousing website for organic search, you may be deciding between "data warehouse" and "data warehousing." Keyword-estimation tools may show you that "data warehouse" is far more popular than "data warehousing." However, your PPC experience may show that "data warehousing" is a more effective term for your website. Even more likely, you may find that "data warehouse" is the better term, but that "data mining warehouse" -- while having fewer searches -- is the best possible keyword phrase for your business. You would then be able to make informed decisions about which keyword phrases to optimize your website for.


Keyword selection is just one facet of successful PPC advertising. Stay tuned for additional strategies and tactics in future articles related to ad copy, bid strategies, landing page optimization, and ROI tracking.


Andy Komack, President

KoMarketing Associates

Post Comment

 Internet Help said:
Great advice relating to an industry sector I've not yet worked in. Love the negative keyword list... very useful resource.

I'm also a fairly newcomer to G's Analytics and so am finding this site incredible useful.

Many thanks
 Melanie Phung said:
Ditto the previous poster's thanks for the negative keyword list. We all know (well, some of us) that excluding keywords is as important as choosing terms to bid on, but having a generic list to start from is helpful. Thanks for the resource
 Carolyn said:
Great article. Not often that one comes across so much useful info packed into one well-written page!
 George Seboya said:
Great stuff for me specially. Most PPC are about BtoC and very rarely about BtoB. In a consulting environmemt where your prospects are businesses coming up with targeted keywords is challebging.
 Sahaj said:
Knowing the exact keywords people typed and then clicked on your ads is extremelly useful. I don't know why Google Analytics doesn't show those keywords instead of the broad match ones. I wrote about this not long time back, Best PPC Practice - Exact Keywords.