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SEO Website Audit

“Wide-net” Keyword Research for PPC (Part 2 of 2)

June 5, 2007

In Part 1 of my article, I said that we need to have an entirely different mindset when researching keywords for PPC vs. SEO. When compiling keywords for SEO, you’re looking for phrases that get a good bit of traffic. But for PPC, you can use all those longer queries that are impossible to work into your page copy. Plus, you’re trying to get a feel for all the different ways people have of phrasing their queries.


In Google AdWords, you usually save money if you build comprehensive phrase-match and exact-phrase keyword lists and avoid bidding on broad match altogether. (Broad matching is when you don’t put brackets or quotes around your keyword phrase, which triggers your ad even if the query isn’t a perfect match. In some cases G takes bizarre liberties with words not even in your list which it thinks are synonyms. Broad match is usually good only for advertisers who have deep pockets, and G’s profits, of course!)


As I mentioned before, I first cast a wide net by searching on 1- or 2-word phrases so as not to miss anything useful. Using both KeywordDiscovery (KD) and Wordtracker (WT) and weeding out bad matches as I explained earlier, I can often save time by exporting directly to a spreadsheet and deleting the unwanted results there.


Here are my top 5 PPC keyword research tips for anyone bidding in Google AdWords.

1. Negative Match: Make a list of every irrelevant word used with each core keyphrase. You’ll then be able to build a comprehensive negative-match keyword list to keep your ad from appearing for inappropriate searches, for 2 reasons:


a) Avoid paying for clicks that are unlikely to lead to a sale (conversion).


b) Avoid a low click-to-impression ratio caused by triggering your ad frivolously. Yes, you can word your ad to discourage the wrong people from clicking, but Google demotes keywords that have a low clickthrough rate (CTR). Naturally the AdWords system is not designed to allow unlimited free ad impressions.


Using KD and/or WT for PPC keyword research really pays off. When you see how many people actually specify colors and sizes — even dimensions — in a search, you’ll appreciate the importance of building a really thorough negative-match list.


2. Product Codes: If you sell something that might be searched for by its product ID, import your entire list into KD and/or WT and see what comes up.


Such specific queries often indicate a readiness to buy. Watch out for other products bearing similar numbers; you’ll want to designate those brands as negative match.


3. Misspelled Words: Search the keyword databases for every possible alternate spelling you can think of for your keyphrases. KD and WT offer some help with this, but I also go offline for this one and talk to the worst spellers I know. (Lucky me, I’m married to one! :-) Google *says* they have you covered for misspellings if you bid on broad match, but I believe it’s better to stick to phrase/exact match whenever possible.


4. Synonyms: Consult a thesaurus to find alternate words for your keywords.
There are synonyms for just about every word in the English language, and of course, regional variations.


5. Word Patterns: Pay attention to word order. I’ve noticed over the years that people don’t always search the way they speak. Queries often start with the noun (subject) with the descriptive words added like an afterthought.


It’s very possible that these queries are the result of refining a search when people are dissatisfied with the results. Rather than type a new query, they just keep tacking on more words at the end of the search string.


You might beat out your competitors by phrase- and exact-match bidding on a whole pile of strangely worded phrases they wouldn’t think to specify. Most advertisers cover their bases by simply bidding broad match on the root phrase, but you can bid with higher confidence since you won’t have to worry about paying for wasted clicks. Your CTR goes up, and so might your conversion rate if you can give people exactly what they’re searching for.


These long-tail “bass-ackward” phrases are pure gold. :-)


Speaking of bass…


Casting a wide net in keyword research *is* time-consuming, but PPC is a competitive sport these days. A savvy PPC fisherman uses the right lures to reel in the profits. Half of the advertisers in AdWords are wasting their bait and don’t even know that an ocean of keywords is available in KeywordDiscovery and Wordtracker. For now at least, it may just be a matter of using the right tackle. So put the “Gone Fishing” sign up on your office door and get to work researching those keywords!


Lorelle Smith, The Keywordsmith
Professional Keyword Research & Analysis Consultant