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PPC 101: A PPC Campaign Guide

An introduction to PPC keywords


Over this series of articles, we'll be looking to cover the wide range of aspects, both theoretical and practical, with the aim of giving you the knowledge to successfully create a highly targeted, relevant (you'll hear this word a lot) paid search campaign which will result in a great ROI for your business.

As with any body of knowledge a solid foundation is the key to becoming an expert of the subject, so to begin with we will start by introducing you to keywords and going into some detail about their role within your account and overall strategy.

Why Your Keyword List Is So important

The keywords in your account are the link between your business and your customer's intent. A good keyword list should sit perfectly between this intent and the unique offering of your business (which will be well conveyed in your adverts).

We begin PPC 101 by talking about keywords as ultimately, the keyword research you do will inform the structure of your AdWords campaign and the advert copy for each ad group.

A good keyword list should strike a balance between the long-tail, highly specific keywords used by well-qualified customers who are furthest down the purchase funnel (for highest ROI) and the more generic traffic driving words (for exposure and growth on key industry terms)

Later in the series we'll take a practical look at how to carry out keyword research for your site/business, but first it's important to understand how your keywords will sit within the account, so here we will run through some of the basics.

Keyword Grouping

Since Google introduced AdWords, relevancy has been key to the advertising model. By rewarding relevancy through the Quality Score, Google ensure that their users are seeing the most useful and relevant adverts at the time of searching.

Quality Score Definition:

“A Quality Score is calculated every time your keyword matches a search query -- that is, every time your keyword has the potential to trigger an ad. Quality Score is used in several different ways, including:

In general, the higher your Quality Score, the lower your costs and the better your ad position
(source: 'What is the AdWords "Quality Score" and how is it calculated ' )

By strategically grouping keywords into themes based on user intent, you will be able to a) apply to them the most relevant advert copy and b) direct users to the most relevant landing page. By doing so you will be a step closer to achieving the goal of relevance.

To give a basic example, if a shoe shop was advertising through AdWords, part of the strategy would be to include variations across the purchase cycle, for key purchase influencers (price, quality etc), alongside variations in descriptive keywords (shoe/trainers, ladies/women) . For each product they would be advised to split out these terms to ensure each group gets the most relevant advert copy and landing page:

It is impossible to overstate the importance of keyword research and the structuring of campaign. As the campaign progresses a solid, well thought out structure allows greater options for optimisation. An example of this being, if you've found one particular area of 'intent' which provides great ROI and a good number of sales, if this area is already in it's own ad group, it's straightforward to promote it to an individual campaign, ring-fencing it to allow 100% exposure and allowing further ad group segmentation.

Keyword Match Type

Before doing the keyword research, it as also important to be aware of what options you will have for your keywords. AdWords offers 4 different match types for inputting keywords, each of which has it's own purpose within your overall strategy. Below we outline each type and give the how this effects the results when using the keyword 'mens shoes':

Match Description Scenario for 'mens shoes'
Broad Shows your advert on similar phrases and relevant variations Would trigger:
mens shoes
shoes for men
male footwear
Phrase Shows adverts on searches containing the exact phrase (in order) Would trigger:
mens shoes
large mens shoes

Would not trigger:
mens cheap shoes
mens shoe
Exact Shows adverts only when the search query matches your keyword exactly Would only trigger:
mens shoe

Broad Match Modifier: This more recent addition to the match type family allows you to create keywords with a greater reach than Phrase match, but without the range of Broad Match.

By putting the plus (+) symbol in front of any single words when using broad match, this means that particular word must be matched closely (So will include close variants, but no synonyms or related searches).

To relate to the above example, the keyword mens +shoe would match mens shoe, mens shoes, but wouldn't match mens trainers, mens footwear (as footwear and trainers are synonyms rather than close variations.

Negative Keywords

Officially a match type, 'Negative Keywords' are a very important element of an AdWords campaign that deserve a section of their own. Put simply, they are a way of cutting down unwanted impressions/clicks, and therefore tightening up the relevancy of your campaign. Example uses are cutting out searches for products you don't sell or filtering out non-buyers.

Example 1: If using the keyword credit card, the application of scam, fraud ensures a) your brand isn't damaged by advertising on these terms and b) you receive no impressions on the high volume of searches.

Example 2: You rent holiday cottages in Scotland, and advertise on the keyword holiday cottage. By adding the negative keywords such as Wales, Cornwall etc you ensure adverts are not shown to browsers not interested in your location, but can still get a decent volume advertising on a generic keyword.

Applying Negative Keywords (a practical example):

This isn't one of the most clearly labelled options within AdWords, so it's worth giving a quick example of how to manage negative keywords

Your chosen list of negative keywords can either be applied at AdGroup or Campaign Level, affecting the range of terms which they affect:

  1. Whilst in the master Campaigns Tab, click keywords

  2. Scroll down below the keyword list to find the 'negative keywords' plus-box:

  3. From here, Add/Edit/Delete at whichever level you need.

  4. Should you require a copy of the list, hit Download for a .csv export of the full list.

Negative Keywords

A Final Word

You should now have a fairly robust understanding of what keywords mean in the big picture of your strategy. Next up (in PPC 102) we'll explore this area further, discussing how to carry out keyword research that will result in a comprehensive, highly targeted keyword list that will allow you to align your paid search campaign with the overall goals of your business

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