I was talking to a client the other day who wants to embark on a pay per click strategy for her business, and I was explaining the importance of keyword research when starting out on a new campaign. That’s obvious you  might think, and yes of course it is, but still worth me going through our process for you so that you can follow this for your keyword strategy.

The first important step is to define:

What are your business goals?

It’s an important point to think about, let me give you an example to demonstrate what I mean.

People compile a lot of research on the internet, as well as purchase goods or services. For example if I want to buy a car, but I’m no sure what type I want my search might look like this:

Search phrase 1: Buy Used Car

Once I’ve had a look through whats on offer I might then start narrowing down my search to

Search phrase 2: Buy Used Ford

and then, after further thought

Search phrase 3: Buy used Ford KA

As a business owner you need to decide whether you want to spend your money through all of these steps, or perhaps just at the last one. So is your business goal to discover everyone that is in the market, or specific types of buyers that just want a certain type of car.

So once you know where you want to ‘play’ then you can start the process of finding keywords that will match your overall business goals. Think about

What problem are you solving?

Individuals might not always know the solution to a problem that they have got, if as a business owner you want to catch people in the ‘research’ phase then think about this area. For example, if someone suffers from migraine they might type in ‘prevent migraine attacks.’ Now at this stage they might have just recovered from a migraine so do not need relief, so would this be a good lead to your website if your website only served to provide relief? – possibly not, but if your business goal was to provide information, help and grow an email database then this would be a good keyword for you.

Product and brand solutions

Make sure that you are playing at the end of the buying cycle, this is perhaps a slightly easier task as they are known items. Think about products, product brand names, part numbers or model names. Also think about your company Brand – this might be important.

Match your keywords to your own goals

You might organise your ad groups and, therefore, your keywords into your customer journey, or you might simply use your business structure (departments) to organise your work. This is important as it will make for easier management and reporting, you’ll be able to identify what is working well and what is not.

Types of keywords

The type of keyword is an area that a lot of people worry about, but it’s quite simple. Your advert will show to your audience when they type in the keywords you have chosen, but you can have a variety of ways that will trigger the advert.

Broad Match

Back to my example, if you use the broad match keyword, which you would type in like this buy used car in your account. Google is smart enough to know what is semantically relevant, so your Ad will show when someone types in

  • buy used car
  • purchase used car
  • buy used vehicle
  • purchase used vehicle
  • buy 2nd hand car
  • + lots more

So by using a broad match, you are relying on Google to get the semantic matching right.

Modified Broad Match

Again using our example your keyword would look like this +buy +used +car, this ad will show for

  • buy used car
  • buy car that’s used
  • used 2nd hand buy car

So the words buy, used and car have to be typed, but in any order. This as will not show if you audience typed in vehicle instead of car.

Phrase Broad Match

For this type of keyword it would look like this “buy used car” again there’s a set of words repeated across a number of different queries, but in this case the order does matter so the ad would show for

  • buy used car
  • buy 2nd hand used car

but not for

  • buy car – used

Exact Match Keyword

The simplest of the bunch, as its name suggests, only an exact match of your keyword phrase will trigger your advert to show. The command for this type of keyword is square brackets, so the keyword will look like this [buy used car]. You ad will only show for one thing and that is

  • buy used car

and finally you must take care of your negative keywords

Negative Keywords

These are keywords that you definitely don’t want your ad showing for if someone types them in to the search engine. So as an example if I only sold Suzuki cars then I don’t want my ad to show for Buy used Ford KA. So my negative keyword list would be all other car manufacturers

  • Ford
  • BMW
  • Rover

you get the idea (take a look at this blog post for more on negative keywords)

Today’s Takeaway

If you’re already running a pay per click campaign, then spend some time today looking at the keyword match types that you have selected – are they the right ones? – are you paying for traffic that won’t lead to any conversion?

If you’re thinking about starting a pay per click campaign your first job is to think about how users will find you, then align those ideas with your business goals before you take the plunge.