Choosing Google Ads Keywords | Keyword Selection & Targeting

Targeting is the most essential element of Google Ads campaign management and can mean the difference between success and failure. By choosing relevant keywords, you can ensure that your ad is shown to people who are actually interested in what you have to offer. This, in turn, will help you to get more qualified website traffic, leads and sales.

The use of keywords in digital marketing is an essential part of creating a successful campaign. Keywords are the phrases and words that people search for online and when used correctly, they can help to drive targeted customers to your website. By understanding how to properly research and utilise keywords in your PPC campaigns, you can ensure that your ads get seen by the right people.

This article will explain what keywords are, how to use them effectively in your PPC campaigns, and provide useful tips for optimising performance with keyword targeting. With this knowledge, you’ll be able to create more effective PPC campaigns that deliver results.

A keyword is a single word or phrase used for targeting search engine users. With Google Ads Search campaigns, you choose keywords relevant to your industry for targeting prospective buyers of your product or services as they search in Google.

Carefully selected keywords will help make sure that your PPC ad pops up when people use search engines like Google to look for products or services similar to yours. You can reduce advertising costs, get more qualified clicks, and ultimately get more customers by using the right keywords.

When someone uses a keyword to search on Google, the results are sorted according to what is most relevant to the searcher. This list of results is called a SERP (search engine results page). In order for their website to appear higher on this rankings list, companies use marketing strategies like SEO and content marketing. However, these methods can take quite some time before showing effects which is why many businesses prefer to use PPC marketing as it is much faster to get results.

Keywords are selected based on relevance, popularity, and a number of other factors which determine how much an organisation will need to pay for each click they receive from their sponsored link. If you’re not interested in waiting for your website traffic to grow organically through SEO optimisations, then PPC might be the way to go!

In a nutshell, prosperous PPC marketing comes from the keywords that you select. The keywords you aim for should be related to your business and also have a high likelihood of changing those searches into people who pay. 

Why are keywords important?

Your choice of keywords will determine whether your Google Ads Search campaign is successful or not. By carefully selecting the right keyword, you ensure that your ad will be seen by people who are actually interested in what you’re selling.

Your Google Ads success depends on choosing the right keywords. If you don’t target the right keywords, you could end up wasting a lot of money on clicks from people who will never convert.

Conversely, if you target the right keywords, you could see a significant ROI from your Google Ads campaigns.

The importance of keywords also lies in the fact that they give you valuable insights into what your customers are actually searching for.

Keyword Match Type Explained

There are a few different types of keywords that you should be aware of:

Broad match keywords:
These keywords have the widest targeting. are the widest targeting keywords and they simply match your ad with any search that includes your chosen keyword. These are the default match type when creating new keywords.

Phrase match keywords:
These are slightly more specific than broad match keywords and they will only match your ad with searches that include your chosen keyword phrase.

Exact match keywords:
These are the most specific keywords and they will only match your ad with searches for that exact keyword phrase.

Once you’ve selected your keywords, you need to create an ad that targets them. Your ad should be relevant to the keywords you

What are negative keywords?

Negative keywords are words or phrases that you do not want your ad to show up for. For example, if you sell women’s shoes, you might add “men” as a negative keyword so that your ad does not show up when someone searches for “men’s shoes”.

Adding negative keywords to your campaign can help to improve your Quality Score by ensuring that your ad is only shown to people who are actually interested in what you have to offer. This can help to increase your click-through rate and reduce your costs.

You can also use negative keywords to prevent your ad from showing up for certain searches. For example, if you sell men’s shoes, you might want to add “women” as a negative keyword so that your ad doesn’t show up when someone searches for “women’s shoes.”

This helps to ensure that your ad is only shown to people who are actually interested in what you’re selling.

Picking the Right Keywords

The best way to discover profitable keywords is to start with keyword research. This involves using various tools and techniques to find relevant terms that people are actually searching for.

Once you have a small list of potential keywords, you can then use tools like the Google Keyword Planner to expand your list, and get more insights into each one. This includes things like search volume and competition level. Armed with this information, you can then start to build out your campaigns around the most relevant and profitable keywords.

Relevance is key when it comes to keyword choice; if you don’t update your terms regularly, you run the risk of becoming irrelevant to searches concerning your business or industry. The best place to start looking for new keywords is with the Google Keyword Planner Tool.

From the start, focus on relevant keywords that closely align with your business, industry, and target market. These are the terms that offer you a high chance of converting clicks into profitable leads and sales. Because they are so effective, these keywords should be given a higher bid cost from the beginning. Additionally, investment in these keywords should be higher due to their increased likelihood of return. You can use conversion tracking to continuously refine your bids for ROI purposes by utilising performance data

After that, target long-tail keywords that are very particular and less frequent but also have a high connection to the search. Some examples include variations of services/products or even searches based on locations. For instance, “sports equipment” would be a general keyword while “black and white sports clothing for men in Paris” would be more detailed. These long-tail keywords are less competitive thus having better chances of being profitable conversions.

Lastly, make sure to iterate your PPC keywords by constantly refining and expanding your selections. By considering the latest trends and updating your keywords with new products, you’ll better understand what keywords are popular and how customer habits change.

Targeting at Different Stages of the Search Funnel

The intent of a keyword is the purpose for which a searcher is looking for something. When someone types a keyword into a search engine like Google, they have a specific goal or intent in mind. Depending on the user’s intent, each of these keywords can be used to target a different stage in the customer journey.

There are four main types of keyword intent:
Informational Intent:
The user is looking for information on a topic. For example, “What is PPC?”
Navigational Intent:
The user is looking for a specific website or page. For example, “TikTok login.”
Commercial Intent:
Also known as high intent and is about to make a purchase, but they are not quite ready yet. For example, “Best TV for under £500.”
Transactional Intent:
The user is looking to make a purchase. For example, “Buy shoes online.”

Informational Searches

Also known as “question words” as they frequently contain: “why,” “how,” “what”, “is”, “does”, “tips”, “guide”, and so on. 
Typically, these keyword search terms are targeted organically early on in the buying funnel process, for example using a blog to inform and educate search engine users. Informational keywords are generally used when someone is researching a topic, and they are not yet ready to make a purchase. For example, if someone is looking for information on “How to start a business,” they would be using an informational keyword. You would not use paid search for targeting these types of search terms, rather a blog would be more effective. (At the very least, you would not start with these types of words for paid ads).

Navigational Searches

People are searching for a website, company or brand name. Bid on your keywords to increase CTR and reinforce your brand by showing in the top ad position. Transactional searches typically have a higher conversion rate for PPC because these are people later in their buying searching to complete an action.

Navigational keywords are used when someone already has a specific product or service in mind and is looking for a specific brand or company. For example, if someone is looking for “Apple laptops,” they would be using a navigational keyword.

Transactional Searches

People are looking to complete an action. Well suited for advertisers targeting prospects later in their buying funnel. Transactional keywords are used when someone is ready to make a purchase. For example, if someone is looking for “TVs under £500,” they would be using a transactional keyword. Products keywords with commercial intent examples include (Plasma TV sale, discount TV Sale) than just a generic- Plasma TV.

Commercial Searches

Commercial intent gets explicitly signalled by combing a service or product keyword with a commercial modifier like supplier, company, prices, proposal, agency, practice, tender and much more. (for example, car hires rates, car hire company, car hire supplier, car hire agent, etc.). These explicit searches are more relevant than just Car Hire. 

If you want to target people near you, try using a product or service keyword with the name of the closest location. For example, car rental London, catering near me, wedding photographer London. People who use local search terms are more likely looking for businesses that can provide what they need than general keywords without geographical modifiers.

How to use keywords in your Google Ads campaign

Once you have a list of relevant keywords, you can start to build out your Google Ads campaigns around them.

To do this, simply log into your account and create a new ad group(s).
An ad group is a collection of ads that share the same keywords. Each ad group should be themed around a single topic or product.

Next go to the “Keywords” tab. Here, you can add your keywords and match types. You can also set your bid amount for each keyword.

Finally, write your ads. Make sure that your ads are relevant to the keywords in your ad group. Remember to include a call to action and use persuasive language.

By following these steps, you can ensure that your Google Ads campaign is built around relevant and profitable keywords. This will help you to get more qualified traffic, leads and sales from your campaigns.

Ad Groups - Keywords & Ad Container

An ad group is a collection of keywords and ads that share the same theme. Ad groups help you organise your keywords and target them with ads that are relevant to those keywords. You can have multiple ad groups in one campaign.

For example, if you’re selling women’s clothing, you could have one ad group for general terms like “women’s clothing” and another for more specific terms like “women’s dresses.” This way, you can make create ads that are as relevant as possible to the keywords you are targeting.

Ad groups are important because they allow you to control which ads are shown for which keywords. This ensures that your ads are relevant to the people who see them, which increases the chances of people clicking on your ads.

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: 
    YouTube is the second biggest search in the world, and you can use search keywords with YouTube Ads within Google Ads.

Ad Rank Auction

Paid Search or Pay-Per-Click (PPC) marketing is a model of advertising where organisations pay a fee each time one of their ads is clicked. Organisations bid on keywords relevant to their products or services so that their sponsored links appear when users enter those terms into the search engine as queries.

The amount you bid determines your ad’s placement—the higher the bid, the more likely your ad will be seen by searchers. When done correctly, PPC can be an effective way to drive traffic to your website and generate leads.

Your ad’s chance of appearing is based on an automated auction process that search engines use to determine which services and products deserve to be shown at the top above all other search results.

A combination of relevancy and budget are the main determining factors. If it were only down to money, then companies with more capital would just flood the competition and appear at the top of every search result. However, that’s not how it works. The algorithm designed for these search engines digs through web pages for keywords and content that is most relevant to the person who performed initiated the query.

If the keywords you selected don’t match your landing page, then you won’t be featured as frequently. So, if your landing page engagement rate is below average for your industry, this will affect how often your ads are shown as well as increase ads cost. If website users leave quickly (a high “bounce rate” or low session duration”, and have few return visits (“low return user ratio”), this will also impact your advertising success.

Keyword Quality Score

Your ad is entered into an auction to compete for the chance to be shown whenever a customer searches for a term that matches your keyword. The amount you’ll pay per keyword will depend on both the quality score of your keyword and also how much competition there is in the auction from other similar ads. In order to improve your chances of winning, make sure that your keywords, ads and your landing page are closely related to searches potential customers are using

Google Ads assigns you a Quality Score rating to reflect the relevance of your keyword, ad and landing page. There are two benefits to having a high score: cheaper advertising costs per click, and increased ad position. When ads are at the top of the list, people are more likely to see and click on them.

To give you an idea of how quality is judged for each keyword, there is a corresponding Quality Score. This takes into account such factors as expected click-through rate, ad relevance and landing page experience. In general terms, higher-quality ads result in lower costs while also earning better positions among advertised keywords.

Keyword Tips

Keyword Research

The Google Keyword Tool, the Google Ads Search Terms report and third-party tools are all excellent choices for discovering new keywords. Furthermore, constantly monitor your website’s offerings to identify any discrepancies between your keyword list and the site’s actual content. If you run an e-commerce business, try using well-known product names, serial part codes, manufacturer names or other relevant conventions. 

Choose your keywords carefully

In order to create an effective Google Ads campaign, consider what terms your customers might use when searching for your services or products. Make a list of all the categories related to your business, including industry-specific jargon and phrases that describe your competitors. Be sure that the keywords you choose are relevant to both the content of your ad and the landing page you’re directing customers to. Multiple keyword phrases tend to be the most successful.

If you want your ad to reach customers who are interested in a specific product, then use more targeted keywords that are relevant to the theme of your ad. Keep in mind though that if these keywords are too precise, your potential customer base might be smaller than anticipated.

Group similar keywords:

Try separating your keywords into manageable themes. This will help you keep track of your account more easily and make it simpler to organise. You might want to do this according to the customer journey, like differentiating between upper-funnel and lower-funnel keywords. Alternatively, you could base these categories around categories of your products, services or other areas.

For example, say you sell rings. You would then have a group of keywords for “engagement rings” and another set of keywords for “wedding rings”. Next, create separate ad groups for these keyword groups and write specific ads targeting engagement ring searchers and other ads specifically written to attract those looking for wedding rings. Alternatively, you may want to group keywords by profitability or some other business metric.

Pick the right number of keywords: 

Advertisers normally find that having 5-20 keywords per ad group is the most practical. Since keywords already account for misspellings, additional compensation in this area isn’t needed.

Using Wider Keywords with Search Remarketing:

If you want to reach a larger audience, target more general keywords. In particular, look for cheaper keywords that have a lower cost per click so that you don’t have to bid as high.

Automated Bidding

Use Smart Bidding with Broad Match broad match keywords with Smart Bidding to get your ad in front of as many relevant searchers as possible. A broad match is a keyword-matching option that allows your ad to show on searches that include misspellings, synonyms, related searches, and other relevant variations.

When you use broad match with Smart Bidding, Google’s algorithm analyses search queries and detects patterns to understand the intent behind them. This helps us show your ad to people who are more likely to take your desired action, such as making a purchase or calling your business.

Use Negative Keywords:

Negative keywords are key to reducing your costs by making sure that your ads do not appear in searches for terms that are unrelated to what you’re selling.

Google Ads Conversion Tracking:

Use Google Ads conversion tracking to record web leads, sales, and phone calls so you can test which keywords are most effective for your advertising goals. Use Google Ads conversion tracking to record web leads, web sales and telephone calls to test the keywords that are wider to optimise for advertising goals.

Other Paid Search Platforms:

Although the tips below are based on using Google Ads, a very similar approach – and likely the same keywords – will work with Microsoft Advertising as well. Amazon and Pinterest.


This article outlined the basics of keyword targeting in Pay-Per-Click advertising. It covered why keywords are important, how to group them into manageable themes and categories, choosing the right number of keywords and other related tactics like wide keywords, search remarketing, automated bidding, negative keywords and conversion tracking. These tactics can be used with various ad platforms such as Google Ads, Microsoft Advertising, Amazon and Pinterest. Once you understand keyword targeting and implement these strategies correctly it will help get your business noticed and grow.

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 realise their importance in getting your business noticed.

Liam Holmes

Liam Holmes

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