Understanding Keywords and Their Purpose in PPC

If you’re new to the world of pay-per-click advertising then you may want to start with the basics such as learning what keywords are and the purpose they serve. If you’re not completely new to internet marketing then you may have heard the term “keyword” before in the context of search engine optimization. Check out our SEO guide to learn more about search engine optimisation. In PPC, keywords fill a very similar role. 

Keywords are words or phrases that are used to show your ads to the terms that people are searching for. Selecting relevant keywords to your industry for your advertising campaign can help you reach the customers that you want. This article explains how keywords work, how to select them, where your ads will show and how much they cost. 

PPC Marketing Starts With the Keyword

Whenever someone types a keyword into Google, it sorts results in the order that they’re most relevant to you and your needs. The search engine results page is also known as SERPS. Companies use search engine optimization strategies in order to appear higher on the search rankings and this often involves the use of content marketing. However, nurturing your SEO can take a long time which is why many businesses like to use PPC marketing to get a headstart. Also it is hard to show organically for every keyword that is relevant to your business using SEO marketing only. Websites that make use of PPC marketing will appear at the top of a search result page such as Google’s without the need for the time-consuming task of optimizing their website for search engines. Instead, the website owner pays a certain amount of money for each click that their website receives, hence the term pay-per-click. 

In short, effective PPC marketing stems from those keywords that you choose. The keywords you target should be relevant to your business and also have a high chance of converting those searches into paying customers. To learn more about the definition of PPC advertising, check out our article what is PPC advertising?

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How Keywords Work​

When a customer searches for a term that matches your keyword, your ad enters an auction to determine if it will show. 

The cost for each keyword will be different depending on the quality score of your keyword, your competition in the auction and other factors. Make sure that your keywords and landing page are all closely related to the terms that a customer might be searching for or that would appear on websites a customer would visit. To help you understand the quality for your keywords, each keyword has a Quality Score.

This score is based on expected click-through rate, ad relevance and landing page experience. Higher quality ads typically lead to lower costs and better ad positions. Learn how to make sure that your ads are relevant.

Understanding How Search Marketing Works

Search engines like Google rank pages organically based on a number of different factors. Good use of keyword targeting is a key factor that a search engine takes into consideration because it matches intent for what the user wants. If the keywords are relevant to your website, then your website will show up based on its relevance and quality compared to your competitor website pages. There are many other external factors aside from keywords that can affect a search result in SEO, but for PPC it’s often all about the keywords you use.

If you’re not using keywords effectively then not only will it hurt your PPC marketing campaigns but also the general effectiveness and visibility of your website, hence the importance of understanding how all of these elements come together and are affected drastically by your keyword targeting choices.

Understanding How PPC Works

PPC is essentially a bidding auction system. When you search on Google then can see that the top few results are usually always ads. This is because Google reserves a limited amount of space on its website for PPC marketing. Think of this little space above all of the search results as the position that people are bidding for. Advertisers bid on keywords that they want as part of their PPC marketing campaign. When a user searches these keywords your advertisement will show depending on various factors. The possibility of your advertisement showing up is governed by an automated auction process that search engines use to determine which services and products are worthy of being shown at the top above all the other search results.

The main determining factors are a combination of relevancy and budget If it were down to just money then companies with a lot of capital would simply just overwhelm the competition and appear at the top for virtually every search result. Instead, the algorithm built into these search engines will scour web pages for keywords and content to provide something that is relevant to the user that performed the search. If the keywords you’ve chosen do not match with your content, then you’re not going to be featured very regularly. Also if your landing page engagement rate is below industry average, this will affect how often your ads show along with your advertising costs. If your website users bounce, have low session duration and a relatively low return user ratio, this will impact your success. 

However, if your website landing page has an above average user experience, then it will show up above the search results and you’ll be charged a smaller fee should the user click it. The amount you pay for the click will then often be minimal when compared to the profit you could make from the sale. However, this is also a good reason to specialize in the most relevant keywords to your industry and company goals, instead of trying to bid for a wide range of different terms. Using the best keywords increases your targeting to the search which means there’s a higher chance that you’ll profit from the click.

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Picking the Right Keywords

In order to pick the right keywords it’s essential that you perform keyword research for PPC. it’s a time-consuming process but one that is also very important to the success of your marketing campaign. There are various strategies and tools you can use for keyword research, with the best starting point being the Google Keyword Planner Tool. This is also a task that you need to do on a regular basis because the more often you update your keywords, the more likely you are to stay relevant with the most popular search terms regarding your industry or business.

For starters, focus on relevant keywords that are closely related to your business, industry and target market- that offer you a high chance of converting clicks into actual leads and sales. These are the keywords that provide you with an effective cost per click and higher user engagement. Given the importance of relevant keywords, you should consider bidding highest for these from the outset, and investing more money due to their higher chance of return. Conversion tracking lets you fine-tune your bids to get the best ROI using performance data.

Next, focus on long-tail keywords that are very specific and less common but do also have very high relevance to the search. Some examples include specific variations of services and products, or even location-based searches. For instance, “sports clothing” would be a general relevant keyword whereas “black and white sports clothing for men” would be exhaustive. These long-tail keywords are less competitive and more affordable but still offer a high conversion rate and a chance of profit.

Lastly, think about iterating your PPC keywords by constantly refining and expanding your selections. It’s important to consider the latest trends, update your keywords with new products and also look at popular search terms so that you understand what keywords are popular and how you can take advantage of changes in how customers look for your products.

Where Keywords will show your Ads​

You can choose to target your ads to a number of different ad networks. Keywords work a bit differently on each network:

  • Google search and search partner sites: When you build your ad groups, you select keywords relevant to the terms people use when they search, so your ads reach customers precisely when they’re looking for what you offer.
  • Google Play: When promoting your mobile app, pick keywords that are related to the ways people look for apps. Add all of the keywords that you imagine people might use. Keep in mind that Google may extend the scope of some of your keyword match types in ways that are specific to apps. For example, adding the word “app” when advertising outside of the Play network.
  • Google Display Network: If you’ve chosen to show ads on Display Network sites, Google Ads uses your keywords to place your ads next to content that matches your ads. Google’s technology scans the content and web address of a web page and automatically displays ads with keywords that closely match the subject or web address of the page. For example, on a web page that includes brownie recipes, Google Ads might show ads about chocolate brownies or delicious dessert recipes. Learn how to choose your keywords for Display Network campaigns.
  • YouTube: YoTube is the second biggest search in the world, and you can use search keywords with YouTube Ads within Google Ads.

Keyword Tips​

  • Choose your keywords carefully. Include terms or phrases that your customers would use to describe your services, product, industry and competitors. Make sure that your keywords directly relate to the theme of your ad and the page that you’re directing your customers to. Keywords of two or three words tend to work most effectively.
  • Group similar keywords.Try grouping your keywords into themes. These themes can be based on your products, services or other categories. For example, if you sell rings, you can have a group of keywords for “engagement rings” and another group of keywords for “wedding rings”. Then you can create separate ad groups for these groups of keywords and have specific ads for “engagement rings” and specific ads for “wedding rings”.
  • Pick the right number of keywords. Most advertisers find it useful to have somewhere between 5 and 20 keywords per ad group.
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Summary

Hopefully, this article has shown you what keywords are and how they are used effectively in PPC to grow your business. PPC isn’t a difficult concept to grasp and the use of keywords should be easy to understand once you realize their importance in getting your business noticed.

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