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Guide to Keyword Research for PPC Campaigns

Guide to Keyword Research for PPC Campaigns

PPC advertising has revolutionised how businesses court and convert customers. One critical task for any business to execute effective PPC campaigns is having an effective and efficient keyword research strategy.

Knowing how to do keyword research will make the difference between a lousy campaign and a very successful one for designers, creatives, entrepreneurs, and marketers.

The ultimate guide mainly dwells on the details of performing keyword research for PPC campaigns while sharing practical insights and strategies.

Understanding the Significance of Keyword Research for PPC

Seo Keywords Google Trending Searches

Keyword research is one of the most essential parts of a pay-per-click campaign. It means defining and analysing prospects' words and phrases while searching for products or services.

These keywords drive your PPC strategy from ad copy to content used on landing pages. Effective keyword research ensures that your ads are exposed to the right audience. Thus increasing the chances of conversion and optimising ad spending in the best possible way.

Since every click in a PPC campaign will cost you money, focusing on the wrong keywords will result in wasted ad spend and poor campaign performance. If you are targeting the right keywords, you will have an efficient utilisation of your budget.

At the same time, you are attracting the most relevant audience to your ad. This not only boosts ROI but also helps achieve business goals more effectively.

Setting Clear PPC Goals

Before conducting keyword research, make sure you set clear PPC goals. These will drive your keyword strategy and define what kind of keywords you are targeting. For example, you will use broad keywords to increase brand awareness and give you the most comprehensive coverage.

If you want to drive sales or lead generation, you will focus on particular and high intent indicative of a user close to converting.

Aligning your keyword strategy with business objectives ensures that your campaigns are purpose-driven and measurable. Be it increasing website traffic, generating leads, or driving sales; your keyword choices need to be based on them. This can help in creating focused campaigns for tangible results.

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Identifying Your Target Audience

Types Of Target Audiences

Effective keyword research requires one to understand the audience. You should know who your perfect customer is. What issues do they want to solve, and what keyword expressions do they use while searching for them?

You must consider demographics, interests, location, and behaviours potentially leading to a purchase or conversion. Some of this deep understanding will be very helpful in choosing related keywords. That would be left to your audience to ensure a relevant and ineffective ad display.

One good exercise might involve the development of detailed buyer personas. The buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and accurate customer data.

This consists of demographic data, behaviour patterns, motivations, and goals. Keeping in sight these created buyer personas will let you understand that your keyword research is closely aligned with the preferences of your target audience.

Building a Seed List

Begin with a seed list, just a plain list of keywords relevant to your business. It's just the tip of the iceberg regarding what you're after. A solid seed list might be built by simply brainstorming keywords your potential customer could use to seek your services.

Think about the top products and services offered, what problems they solve, and their benefits. Use brand-specific terms and section-specific industry terminology and synonyms to widen the coverage of search queries.

This comprehensive approach ensures you cover all search terms relevant to your business.

Keyword Research Tools

Perform Market Research

Use tools for keyword research to provide a seed list with accurate keywords of value. Tools like Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, Ahrefs, and Moz will give insights into search volume and competition, providing clear word and keyword recommendations.

You will get a long list of terms and phrases to go with them that your prospective clients will be using by simply inputting your seed keywords in those tools.

You can get keyword suggestions by seed keywords, website, or industry category. 

  • Google Keyword Planner will be helpful, especially for a PPC campaign, since it delivers data directly from Google Ads. Additionally, you can see some historical statistics and the forecast for future performance on your chosen keywords. 
  • SEMRush and Ahrefs are leading competitive analysis tools, meaning one can view their competitor's targeted keywords, ad copy, and metrics. Such competitive intelligence might let someone into significant keyword opportunities and further help refine the strategy to recover a lost position.
  • Higher-level Moz's Keyword Explorer consolidates keyword metrics, such as search volume, difficulty, and potential. In addition, this tool gives the unique metric known as Priority, which rolls up all crucial metrics to provide a single score used in prioritising the most valuable keywords for a campaign.

Analysing Keyword Metrics

When you have a comprehensive list of keywords, assess these against critical metrics, including search volume, competition, and cost-per-click. High search volume indicates that these are desirable keywords.

With this typically comes the impact of high competition and costs. Meanwhile, low-competition keywords might give relatively better shots at visibility for a lower price. 

Search volume refers to how often a keyword is looked for within a specific period. High-volume search keywords thus deliver enormous volume traffic to your website. Most of the time, they are highly competitive and costly. Low-volume searched keywords attract fewer visitors to your blog post but often cause less competition and may be more cost-effective.

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Competition measures how many different advertisers are bidding on a keyword. In other words, more competition exists for any given keyword. The more a business will have to spend to rank for it.

A cost that small businesses operating with limited marketing budgets cannot afford. Low-competition keywords offer inexpensive opportunities but do not drive the same amount of traffic as the higher-volume keywords.

Embracing Long-Tail Keywords

Question Keyword Research

Long-tail keywords are longer, more specific phrases with less volume but a higher conversion rate. They usually catch the user's intent better and occasionally display less competition.

For example, you might target affordable PPC management services for small businesses instead of targeting PPC services. Long-tail keywords work extra well for niche markets or targeted campaigns.

While long-tail keywords may attract fewer searches, they typically indicate higher intent and specificity. Any user searching for long-tail keywords usually goes further down the buying process and closer to conversion.

As an illustration, when somebody searches for “best PPC management services for e-commerce”. They would be most likely closer to being ready to buy than another searching for “PPC services.”

Focusing on long-tail keywords would allow one to attract highly qualified visitors who are likely to convert. Again, more competition is needed for long-tail keywords. Therefore, it is a better option if you work at a low budget as an advertiser. Including long tail keywords into your PPC campaign may help lighten spending and get more from it.

Understanding Keyword Intent

Keyword Search Intent

Keyword intent refers to the purpose of the search. Knowing keyword intent helps you select keywords that suit your campaign goals better. Those keywords can be informational, navigational, commercial, or transactional.

Typically, commercial and transactional keywords are precious for PPC campaigns since they relate to a higher possibility of conversion. Ensure your keyword list has terms corresponding to your target audience's intent.

  • Informational keywords are the ones users use when seeking information or looking for an answer to a question. Examples include keywords beginning with the words “how,” “what,” “why,” or “best.” Although informational keywords do drive traffic, not all of them convert immediately. However, they set your name in front of people and ultimately build your brand, which is crucial in laying a foundation of authority in any industry.
  • Users use navigational keywords in search of a particular website or brand. Most of the time, they include brand names or URLs of websites. Again, although navigational keywords can be quite helpful in earning you some direct traffic. Commercial keywords are excellent for driving traffic that is generally more conversion-oriented, ideal for PPC campaigns angling toward lead generation or sales.
  • Commercial keywords imply that the user wants to buy something or is searching for specific products or services. Often include the words “buy,” “affordable,” “best,” and “review.” These transactional keywords come to indicate that the user is ready to buy. Usually, they include terms like “order,” “purchase,” “subscribe',” or “book.” 
  • Transactional keywords are of the highest value for PPC campaigns due to their high intent and readiness to convert. Conduct Competitor Analysis. Understand the opportunities and gaps within your competitor's keyword strategies.
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Tools such as SpyFu will show you what keywords your competitors are bidding for and how their ads perform. This will help babysit what works for your competitors and strengthen your keyword strategy. Also, create new and unique opportunities that would give you an advantage over them.

First of all, identify your main PPC competitors. This includes direct competitors based on the type of business and indirect competition from those who might not be offering identical services or products to theirs but whose target audience is partly similar. 

This will involve investigating what ad campaigns they run and the keywords they use. To get visitors through SEO with keyword research tools, besides looking at some performance metrics. Identify keywords your competitors seek and check their relevance to your business. 

Organising Keywords Into Ad Groups

Keyword Grouping Parent Topic

Keywords can be organised into ad groups, which are sets of keywords that are interrelated or closely related to your topic. When you organise your keywords in interrelated groups, your ads will likely be relevant to those search queries. This will increase the quality and your ad efficiency. 

For example, if you provide all kinds of PPC services, such as Google Ads management, Bing Ads management, and social media PPC services. Then, these PPC services are specific ad groups that make the campaigns more relevant and efficient.

Ad groups play a central role within your entire PPC advertising campaign. Ad groups should be limited to a particular concept or product. Each of them corresponds to a set of parallel keywords and analogues.

We must learn how to structure our ads in this way to be more relevant and targeted. Hence, our quality score and the performance of the ads will be increased.

Implementing Negative Keywords

When it comes to specific keywords, some of which are unrelated or are not very likely to trigger a purchase. Users could save costs by not letting their advertisements show on such keyword searches. Modifying the negative keyword list regularly is time-consuming to eliminate undesired clicks and maximise the ads' impression to the appropriate viewers. 

Negative keywords do not allow your advertisements to be displayed when someone searches for relevant content. Thus protecting and boosting the effectiveness of your advertising strategies.

Upon finalising the list of keywords, there will always be certain general ones that are similar to your services but not a closer match to them. Then, they can be added to the negative keywords list.

This means that if, for instance, you are running a PPC agency. If your speciality is PPC management, avoid your ads showing when the keyword is ‘free PPC management'. You would like to exclude such keywords.

Monitoring and Optimising Campaigns

It is wise to keep tracking and reviewing your PPC campaigns to evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of your keywords. Utilise CTR and conversion rate to measure performance and create campaigns that will reach the target audiences effectively.

It is essential to have an ongoing process of checking and modifying your list of keywords. Because you should add new keywords with good results and exclude the worst performers, this optimisation cycle helps guarantee that your campaigns are correspondingly efficient and cheap.

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Monitoring and analysing your PPC campaigns involves analysing the appropriate metrics to identify the efficiency or inefficiency of used keywords and overall strategy.

Tools like Google Analytics, Google Ads, and other PPC management tools measure the click-through rate, conversion rate, revenue generated by the ad, and cost per conversion. Check your keyword effectiveness continuously to recognise trends or issues—research to determine that there are still relevant and high-ranking Keywords that give significant traffic and conversion. 

Leveraging Seasonal Trends

Google Trends Creative Content

There are some general considerations to consider regarding specific keywords and their trends. Trends can fluctuate the keywords. If you operate a business, you should change your keyword strategy to capture peak periods within the business/demand.

To illustrate this, let us look at an example: suppose you are selling PPC services for e-commerce businesses. Keywords such as sales may be very effective during the holiday period.

Learn how to apply the timing factor using tools like Google Trends to ensure you run your website with trends. Use this knowledge to activate your keyword initiatives to reflect the current trends and events.

Localising Your Keywords

Because regions also matter in business, localisation of the keywords can improve their performance to a business targeting specific areas. Ensure you incorporate any local keywords requiring your firm to cover the regions in which you operate.

For example, a more specific search such as “PPC management services in London” or “New York PPC advertising.” Locational keywords assist in targeting potential customers within a particular geographic region to enhance the success of geo-targeted campaigns.

Geographical targeting is a type of keyword targeting that implies using geographical and regional terms in the specified keyword list. Expanding the audience of potential clients within the region in question and increasing the relevance and efficiency of the organised PPC campaigns is advisable.

Keywords Aligned with Landing Pages

Ensure the website and landing pages, in particular, are optimised for the keywords used in the PPC campaigns. It is essential to note that the match between your keywords, ad copy, and landing page content influences your quality score.

The following is a suggested approach to using keywords with landing pages:

  • Ensure that your landing pages are geared towards the keywords from your PPC phrases. Ensure the landing pages offer what was advertised and expected in the ads to encourage users to complete the necessary action.
  • Landing page optimisation incorporates keywords, banners, and ad copy. Such that the landing page best corresponds with the ad content. This alignment also works for a better quality score and enhanced conversion rate.
  • A landing page is where users end up after clicking on a given ad link. Ensure that your landing pages meet as many expectations as those offered by advertisements. Ensure you present timely and valuable content that creates a positive perception of a particular product or service.

Keep Up With Industry Changes

16 Lsi Keywords Phrase

Therefore, understanding the changes in the industry is essential, especially for keyword research. Stay up-to-date on industry trends such as webinars and actively engage in online social networking forums. To some extent, emerging new keywords will influence your strategy, so you must keep updating your plan.

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A specific approach to managing the PPC advertising process is critical since it is crucial to stay updated with the latest changes within the field. The aspects of digital marketing are expanding constantly, and new tools, as well as new strategies and practices, appear from time to time.

Pay attention to online articles, join webinars, and post in relevant groups to learn more about the current trends a PPC manager can apply. Enter into dialogue with key players: Be ready for change and discuss with professionals.

Experimenting with New Strategies

Feel free to try out new techniques in keywords, hence creating new strategies in the trade. Try out different keywords, titles, and descriptions to help you understand which strategies will likely generate the most response from your audience.

Experiment with elements of your plans to discover what produces the optimum results for each component, then use this knowledge to fine-tune the strategies as a whole.

In particular, trial and error with the PPC campaigns' strategies and tactics can provide valuable insights into your audience's expectations about your content and the improvements that can be made for enhanced performance.

A/B testing effectively analyses the performance of your ads, keywords, and pages to see which performs best with the other.

Both text and graphic ads should be developed in multiple versions, and keywords and ad text should be manipulated to determine which versions yield the highest ROI. This means that results from these tests should be applied when adjusting the keyword plan and optimising your campaigns to the highest effectiveness.

Balancing Broad And Exact Match Keywords

Applying low and high-specificity keywords helps create more queries while still narrowing them down. The broad match keywords provide access to many users, unlike the exact match keywords that only allow access to specific queries. 

Phrase-match keywords provide a better solution to the problem of searching. Place the precise keyword in a middle ground by including other words in the search. Therefore, depending on your campaigns, it is possible to use all the match types to ensure both target consumers in general and selective ones.

It is possible to adjust the keywords to cover almost everything related to a particular topic but still be specific with the final results. It is evident that each match type has certain advantages, and when applied, it can appeal to different audience segments at a time.


Keyword research is the essential foundation of a good PPC campaign, as discussed here. Having information about your audience and knowing when and how to use different tools leads to targeted traffic.

It ultimately leads to the success of a campaign for any goals you would have set. It would help if you kept updated, tried new strategies, and possibly hired PPC management services to improve the performance of your campaigns.

Implementing these strategies will position you strategically for success in the convex world of PPC Ads.


What is keyword research, and what is its significance in PPC campaigns?

Keyword research refers to finding and analysing search terms that people use on search engines. Pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns are vital because they allow you to identify the right audience for your ads, improve ad relevance, and focus more on keywords likely to convert, thus optimising your budget.

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How do I start keyword research for a PPC campaign?

To initiate keyword research for a PPC campaign, consider seed keywords relevant to your product or service. Use keyword research tools to expand this list, look at search volume, and assess competition—factor in industry jargon and the intent behind searches made by people within your target market.

What's the difference between broad match, phrase match, and exact match keywords?

These three types of keywords differ in how they trigger ads. Broad match triggers an ad when any variation of your keyword appears in a search query. Phrase match triggers an ad if the search includes your keyword phrase in the same order, while exact match only considers searches that exactly match with or have very close variations of your keyword.

How many keywords should I target in a PPC campaign?

The number of keywords to be targeted varies depending on campaign goals, industry and budget, among other factors. However, one should start with 20-30 highly relevant keywords per ad group, then add more or drop some based on their performance as you collect data over time.

What are negative keywords? Why are they important?

Negative keywords refer to terms that, if contained within a user's query, will prevent an advertiser from displaying their ads. They aid in ensuring that ads do not appear during irrelevant searches, saving money and increasing quality scores through higher click-through rates (CTRs).

How often should I review & update my keyword list?

Reviewing keyword performance at least once a month is recommended, although weekly is preferable for campaigns with high budgets. This allows for identifying underperforming keywords, finding new opportunities, and making necessary strategy adjustments based on shifting trends or competition.

What's the role of long-tail keywords in PPC campaigns?

Long-tail keywords are more specific search phrases with low search volume but high intent. As such, they tend to face less competition and lower cost-per-click (CPC), so they can be used effectively to target niche audiences, which leads to better conversion rates.

How do I know which match type is right for my campaign?

Choose match types based on your campaign goals and budget. Start with a mix of match types, using broad match modified or phrase match for research and exact match for high-performing keywords. Monitor performance and adjust accordingly.

What are some common mistakes made during keyword research?

Common errors include not considering search intent when selecting keywords, only focusing on high-volume terms, forgetting about negative ones, and failing to consider seasonal fluctuations. In addition, too many unchecked broad matches may rapidly drain all advertising funds available.

How do I use competitor keyword research to improve my PPC campaigns?

Scrutinise ads & landing pages from competitors to identify their target words/phrases. Paid keywords and ad copy can be revealed through specific software tools. Such analysis exposes weaknesses in one's approach while inspiring fresh ideas regarding what terms should be adopted instead – but remember these must still reflect unique selling points (USPs) and audience desires.

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Stuart Crawford

Stuart Crawford is an award-winning creative director and brand strategist with over 15 years of experience building memorable and influential brands. As Creative Director at Inkbot Design, a leading branding agency, Stuart oversees all creative projects and ensures each client receives a customised brand strategy and visual identity.

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