If you are thinking of using an ad campaign such as AdWords to help boost your business’s bottom line then you should be aware that there is nothing more essential to an AdWords or any other type of online ad campaign than your keywords.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re bidding on search terms or deciding which keywords that you’d like your ads to appear for, selecting the appropriate keywords for your campaign will determine whether you will have a profitable campaign or one that drains your money like a bottomless pit.
Keywords which can appear similar to you and me can often have drastically different performance behaviours. A big mistake people often make is to assume that keywords which they think mean “roughly the same thing” will have roughly the same outcome.
Minor variations in keywords can often indicate very large differences on the intent or mindset of the searcher. The subtle variations of the phrasing can even indicate whether the searcher is ready to buy or whether they are simply just browsing and conducting their initial research.
First and foremost, the crucial thing to remember when doing keyword research is to be mindful of speaking the language of your potential customers or clients. This point is especially important in the field of advertising on the Internet using search engines.
The art of advertising on the Internet using search engines is subtly different to say advertising on TV because on the Internet you’re not always trying to force your ad in front of people.
When you are advertising online using AdWords for example you’re responding to what people are looking for which equates to what they are typing in when using a search engine such as google.
So in other words you are not really trying to control or create a market, but instead you want to become aware of what the search terms are which are being entered into the search engine for your product or service.
If you don’t do the due diligence of doing some research about which keywords your customers are typing in, then no matter how brilliant or creative your ads are, they will never serve their intended purpose because they will not get displayed, or even worse, they might be displayed to the wrong people and will end up costing you money for the wasted clicks.
Jargon which you might use regularly in your line of business might not be the terms which the customers use to search for your product. For example, the airline companies might frequently say “low fares” but the average Internet surfer looking to save on their airfares might be typing “cheap flights”.
Even if you’ve done some initial research and you’re comfortable that you’ve found the term which you think that thousands of your potential customers are using to search for your type of product, keyword research is unfortunately a little more complex than simply looking at frequency and volume of your search data.
Sure the frequency is an important quality when you are selecting a keyword to target but it is only one of a number of qualities which you should take into account.
Although keyword research can become quite complex, there are 3 important things you should initially focus on:
- Size – The size of the market based on how many searches people are doing around that term.
- Relevance – The relevancy of those terms to your business.
- Competition/cost – The competition/cost associated with advertising on those terms.
In order to determine the above variables, you can use tools to conduct your keyword research. The GoogleKeyword tool is often the best place to start, because it’s free and it contains many built-in features which allow you to view different performance factors for each search term.
(Note: You can also use the keyword tool from within your google AdWords account and the benefit of this is that it contains more features such as being able to display the approximate cost-per-click (CPC) of a keyword)
Let’s take a brief look at some important factors regarding keyword research and the google keyword tool.
Keyword Match Types
If you have a google AdWords campaign or have used the keyword tool before, then you might already be aware that google uses keyword match types to determine what type of search queries you want your ads to be displayed for and how closely you want to match the phrases that people are typing into the search engines.
You can use keyword match types to control the broadness or narrowness of your search audience. For instance if you’re in the business of selling “motorcycle tires”, you don’t want to waste advertising dollars to irrelevant visitors who are looking for “car tires”.
When one refers to keyword match type in google AdWords or the search tool, one is usually talking about broad, phrase and exact match types.
The google keyword tool allows you to specify which specific or combination of match types you wish your search data to show when doing your research. (see the circled checkboxes in the picture below)
1. Broad match
This is the default match type for all keywords and broad match keywords have no restriction – which means that they can potentially trigger your ad to display on even the most remotely relevant thing related to your keyword.
Broad match keywords can trigger your ad if the user types a query in a different order than the specifically targeted keyword. Broad match also covers queries which contain similar words or synonyms to your targeted keyword and plural forms of your keyword.
Therefore even though you may be excited that you are reaching millions of searchers by using a broadly matched keyword, the downside is that you will often be wasting your advertising dollars to irrelevant, non-converting clicks.
2. Phrase match
Using phrase matched keywords will narrow down the search traffic such that all user queries must contain your targeted keywords in the exact order in which you are specifying them.
A phrase match is indicated by the use of quotes “” around your keyword and you can even use this technique when simply searching for something using google search.
Regarding your ad campaigns, if you wanted a phrase match for the keyword “motorcycle tires”, then you are asking AdWords to display your ad only in the cases where people are typing in a phrase which contains the words “motorcycle tires” in that exact order.
For example, your ad is just as likely to appear for any of the following phrases:
- “Pirelli motorcycle tires”
- “motorcycle tires reviews”
- “what are the best motorcycle tires?”
- “Bob’s motorcycle tires”
So as you can see, the phrase matched keyword has narrowed the search traffic considerably by requiring your keyword to appear in the same order within the search phrase which someone types.
But in most cases we might require an even more specific match type in order to get really targeted traffic. Which leads us to the exact match keywords.
3. Exact match
An exact match keyword is the finest granularity you can specify for your keyword matches. This type of match ensures that your ad will only be displayed when a searcher types the exact same keyword which you are targeting in your ad campaign.
An exact match is indicated by the use of square brackets  around your keyword and you can also use this technique when simply searching for something using google search.
Regarding your AdWords campaign, an exact match keyword is telling the system that it should only display your ad when the user query exactly matches your targeted keyword – this means that the words are exactly the same and in the same order with no other words in the phrase.
So in effect an exact match keyword for your “motorcycle tires” ad would have weeded out all of the other search traffic which didn’t have the exact phrase of your keyword.
This type of match can give you the finest level of control in your ad campaigns and can direct specifically targeted traffic to your ad.
When doing your keyword research you will need to take all of the above qualities into consideration before committing to a particular keyword to target in your ads. There has to be a balance between the volume, relevance and also cost of your keywords.
(We will talk briefly about keyword cost/competition in part 2)
As you can see in this brief article we’ve only just touched the surface of the mechanics of keyword research but I hope it has at least given you an initial overview of things you can think about when you are conducting your next keyword research. If you are new to Google Adwrods then the Recap of Google AdWords Basics is a good article to read.
(To be continued in part 2)