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In pay-per-click marketing, everything starts with a keyword.
When you use Google or any other search engine, you type words into the search box to find what you’re looking for. The results that Google returns – whether they’re organic results or paid advertisements – are there because they’re relevant to the words in the search box. And if you want your ads to show up on the page, you have to bid on that keyword.
Therefore, to succeed at PPC, you need to make sure you’re bidding on the right keywords. This process includes a few moving parts:
As you can see, PPC isn’t just a matter of finding the right keywords. In order to get high ad rankings at low costs, you’ll need to work at achieving relevance across your account. That means having:
All of these factors will contribute to your keyword Quality Score – the key metric that determines where your ads are displayed and how much you pay for each ad click.
You can learn more about all of these concepts later on in the coursework. For now, let’s focus on keywords and how they function in your PPC account.
In casual conversation, the terms “keyword” and “search query” are often used interchangeably, but there is actually a difference. What is the difference between a keyword and a search query?
A keyword is an abstraction that we extrapolate from multiple search queries.
A search query is the actual word or string of words that a search engine user types into the search box.
As search marketers, what we target are keywords. For example, one of your target keywords might be “sunglasses.” When you bid on the keyword sunglasses, the search queries that trigger your ad might include variations like “women’s sunglasses,” “aviator sunglasses,” or “sunglasses for small faces.” These search queries all map back to your primary keyword.
Because search queries have so much variance, account structure best practices dictate that PPC marketers group their keywords into related clusters.
Effectively grouping and organizing your keywords improves your PPC strategy by enabling you to create more relevant, Quality Score-friendly ad groups, text ads and landing pages.
The easiest way to get started is to use a keyword tool to break a large list of keywords down into smaller groups by theme. You can then break those groups into even smaller groups, forming a hierarchy, or tree structure:
This structure will map to your Google Ads campaigns and the ad groups within those campaigns.
Your text ads need to be relevant to the keywords you’re bidding on in order to earn high Quality Scores, which determine where your ad appears and your cost per click (CPC).
The keyword you’re bidding on should actually appear in your ad in order to show relevance to both Google and the searcher. The term the user searches on will appear in bold in the ad descriptions, so using the keyword more than once will really make your ad “light up”:
Some tips for using keywords in your PPC ads:
When you bid on keywords, you have the option of telling Google how restrictive it should be when matching your ads against relevant search queries. There are four keyword match types, from least restrictive to most restrictive:
Broad match keywords have the advantage of allowing the maximum number of impressions and clicks – however, those clicks are less targeted and may be less likely to convert. The more restrictive the match type, the fewer clicks you’ll receive, but that traffic will be more relevant and more qualified.
WordStream offers a Free Keyword Tool that makes it fast and easy to find the keywords your business needs to drive traffic through organic and paid search. If you want to better organize those keywords into actionable segments, check out our learning resources on keyword niches and keyword grouping.