Nine steps to choosing keywords for Google AdWords

Nine steps to choosing keywords for Google AdWordsWell-chosen keywords and phrases will ensure that your pay-per-click ad is found by the right people looking for products and services just like yours

1. Understand what makes a good keyword or phrase

Keywords and phrases should be highly specific and relevant to your business. Google rewards relevance. It's not just about paying to get to the top of the list. So your keywords should tie in directly with your ad copy and your website copy. When someone types your keywords into Google, they should be looking for a business exactly like yours. As a result, those people that click on your ad will already be predisposed towards buying from you.

2. Think like your customers

Put yourself in your customers' shoes. If they are searching for a product or service like yours, which words and phrases would they type into Google? Simon Guest, Head of Performance Marketing at Zeal said, "Bid on your brand terms! They're cheap, convert well, help protect against competition, and they really do help your search engine rankings. What's not to love?"

3. Tie it all together

Your keywords and phrases should be closely linked to the wording in your pay-per-click advert and that in turn should match exactly the words and phrases you use on your landing page and on your website.

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4. Be specific and targeted

Avoid using terms or words that are too general. Don't be tempted to add keywords that are not related to your ad but that generate lots of traffic -the people you attract won't be interested in your product or service and it could reflect negatively on your business. Single keywords are often too generic, whereas two or three-word phrases are usually more targeted. For instance, 'organic vegetable box delivery' is a specific phrase that will attract anyone that wants to buy their organic veg direct and have it delivered to their door. Using these keywords separately or in other combinations may be far less successful.

5. List different variations

Your customers may use different terms for your product or service. So always list variations in your keywords. These might include colloquial terms, synonyms (such as shop and store), product names and serial numbers, alternative spellings as well as singular and plural versions. You can even list common misspellings.

6. Use Google's keyword tool to get ideas

To get ideas for keywords and expand your list, you can use the Google Adwords Keyword Planner. All you have to do is submit a keyword or URL and choose relevant and high-ranking words from the results. Once the tool has generated some initial ideas, you can then enter the best words and phrases to generate even more specific ideas.

You can also use the Website Content option to find the most relevant keywords from your own website. If you have a lot of keywords, it can be a good idea to create separate campaigns based on a few tightly-focused keywords.

7. Language and location targeting

You can change language and location settings to ensure your adverts appear in front of the right people. Always make sure your location targeting reflects where you do business. Depending on the location of your customer base, you can set territories, countries, regions, cities or even smaller catchment areas.

Customised targeting is very precise. Your ad will only appear to customers who are searching for results in an area that you specified - such as everyone within ten miles of your business premises. This is ideal for small local shops or restaurants, for example.

8. Understand keyword matching options

Google offers four ways to match keywords: broad, phrase, exact and negative match. The way you use punctuation when you input your keywords indicates which type of matching you want.

  • Broad match is Google's default setting for all keywords. Your ads may be triggered when someone searches for any words that include your keywords. So if your keywords are 'garden design and maintenance' then your ad may appear if someone types in 'garden maintenance'. Some variations such as synonyms (shop/store, for instance) and singular and plural forms may also trigger your ads. You do not have to use any kind of punctuation to specify that a keyword is broad-matched.
  • Phrase match is more tightly targeted. Your ad only appears when someone types in a phrase that contains your entire keyword phrase - ie 'garden design and maintenance'. So if someone types in 'urban garden design and maintenance', your ad will be triggered. Use quotation marks to indicate that your "keywords" need to be phrase-matched.
  • Exact match goes another step further. Searches must be identical to your keyword phrase. To get an exact match put your [keyword phrase] in square brackets. With exact match, you may get higher click-through rates (CTRs) as you only appear when searches are specifically relevant to your business.

9. Remove "negative" keywords

Removing "negative" keywords is a useful way to stop irrelevant searches triggering your ad. Add a minus sign before a keyword so that it is specifically excluded. So if you were a garden designer using the keyword phrase 'garden design' you could add '-book' to ensure searches for gardening books don't bring up your ad. Or, if you sell cameras but not camcorders you can make camcorders a negative keyword. You may even find that the name of your company or one of your products is also the name of something entirely unrelated to your business. In this case use negative keywords to rule them out by adding words that are connected to them, not you.

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