A total stranger said to me recently “… remember that most things do not come to us – we have to make some things happen – other things do just fall in our laps…”
Being a little impatient myself, I've always leaned more towards the “making things happen” side, not to say I'm not immensely grateful when something does fall in my lap 🙂
Going out and hunting down traffic is infinitely preferable to waiting for traffic to find my offer another way.
So pay per click marketing suits me to a tee, and if you're wanting to get serious traffic to your web site, it's hard to go past PPC marketing.
Not only is it easily measurable, but you can reach a massive base of customers almost instantly.
If you could increase your traffic dramatically and know where each dollar is most profitably spent, would that help your business?
PPC advertising can take your traffic to the next level – you've just got to know how to spend your money wisely. It's a skill you can easily learn, and should.
With PPC, your keywords are your investment. You bid or invest money in a keyword, expecting a return on your money.
Not only that, but your keywords provide a solid (or shaky) foundation for the rest of your marketing.
Consider this – all your ads and landing pages are based on your keyword choices. Pick the wrong keywords and the rest of your marketing goes down the tube as well. Get the right keywords in your starting line-up and you've got increased traffic and increased quality of traffic, which is just as important for getting conversions.
After you've read this article, I want you to have a complete picture of the types of keywords that you should be looking for, to get the most out of your PPC marketing, and prevent losing money.
How does keyword research for PPC differ from SEO?
Before I tell you how keyword research differs between PPC and SEO, it's useful to know why both methods differ so you can understand the different research approach.
Whether you're active in search engine optimization or not, there are 6 strong reasons why you should include PPC marketing in your business:
- You see fast results – while SEO changes can be slow to take effect, you can see the benefits of a PPC campaign anytime after launch, often within a few hours.
- You can measure your profitability – those fast results can be compared accurately back to your investment, so you can see how your money is being used and make better decisions on where to spend it for the most profits.
- You can increase traffic significantly – PPC allows you to reach more people than you might through SEO (or any other form).
- You can market through both Content and Search Networks to reach a wider diversity of traffic through different types of advertising.
- You can use PPC to help with SEO – by zeroing in on the most trafficked and most profitable keywords quickly, you can implement these in your SEO strategy as well.
- You can direct your targeting precisely – using methods such as geo-targeting and long tail keywords, you can target a specific demographic at a specific time to improve your returns.
So how does this change your keyword research? Well, when researching for PPC purposes, you can bid on more keywords than you can usually optimize for on your web site. You could potentially attract traffic using hundreds of thousands of keywords, which gives PPC marketing huge pulling power!
Another difference in the keywords that you'll look for is that you can take advantage of keywords that you couldn't use on your web site. Take misspellings for example – you certainly don't want to misspell your web site copy, but you still want to get those customers in your doors. The same goes for international spelling variations and abbreviations.
Another example is competitor or brand names. While you do have to be aware of trademark infringements, PPC can allow you to bid on competitor-related terms that you may not want to refer to on your web site.
What about negative keywords? By telling the search engine the traffic that you don't want, you increase the quality of your traffic and the return on your investment.
In some ways PPC marketing can plug the keyword holes and expand on your search engine optimization. Let's look at the different types of keywords to include in your PPC campaign.
1) Misspellings and typos
Eg. Accomodation vs Accommodation
Misspellings and “typos” are usually worth targeting specifically. While the search engine generally offers the searcher the correct spelling, this means an extra click. If the searcher saw an ad on what they were looking for straight away, they can click on that immediately.
You don't need to cater to every possible misspelling, especially if the traffic is very low. Focus on the main misspellings with higher traffic volumes.
With less competition, it's a great way to get ahead of most competitors and also decrease your bid costs. Because they're just as targeted, you can even see a greater return on investment for these keywords.
2) Plural vs singular
Eg. Home renovation vs Home renovations
Cover all your bases with different plural and singular variations of keywords. You'll get traffic that you may not find on one variation and it can also be cheaper (many advertisers forget the variation and there's less competition). It also helps you target your ads better to what the searcher entered in.
I've got some campaigns where the plural works better than the singular form and vice versa. So this can depend on your product and your audience.
3) Hyphenated, non-hyphenated, merged
Eg. T shirts vs t-shirts vs tshirts
If you're using keywords which can be typed differently, test all the variations. While search engines do interpret hyphens as spaces, you'll probably notice different bid costs and ad positions for each variation. Again, you can target your ad more specifically to each keyword when you're bidding on it.
4) Lateral keywords & synonyms
Think outside your main keywords. What other search terms are relevant?
Try and uncover similar search terms that may not include the keywords that you think, but are still highly relevant, ie. People entering that search query would be interested in your offer.
For example, “cash loans”, “payday advances”, “wage advance” are all the same product that searchers may look for with related search phrases.
5) Problems and solutions
When someone enters a search query, they're asking a question of the search engine. It's the advertisers' job to connect them with the answer, via keywords.
Think about the keywords that someone might enter, where your offer might be the solution.
For example, someone fed up with their partner snoring might search for “how to stop snoring”. If you were marketing a product like NasalQ or similar, you'd want to bid on keywords related to snoring problems, not just the product name. Try expanding your keywords to cover problems a potential customer may search on.
6) Acronyms and abbreviations
Eg. PDA vs Personal Digital Assistance, info vs information
Some acronyms and abbreviations have become common place terms and others are just used to save time. Include these in your PPC keyword list, particularly if they are commonly accepted language. You can cover a lot more ground and reach more people, especially if you're speaking their language!
7) Language and cultural differences
Around the world, the meanings and spellings may vary on particular keywords. For example, optimization is spelled with a z for American English and with an s for British English. Another example is Australians use the term “mobiles” as opposed to “cell phones” in the US.
It's important to be aware of these variations if you're catering to a global market and bidding on what's applicable.
8) Jargon and slang
Eg. Web 2.0
Jargon and slang keywords are another way to reach your audience by speaking their language, and particularly find customers that you might not otherwise.
Jargon may or may not be something that you can include in your web site, but you can certainly cover both through your PPC keywords.
9) Geographic keywords
You can use geographic keywords if you're marketing to a specific regional area, and also if your offer is available anywhere. It's another way to connect with your customer, by pre-empting what they might search for.
For example, you might offer an online training course that members can access from anywhere. You could still bid on keywords for people looking for that course in their area – it still applies and they may even prefer to do it online.
10) Domain keywords
Many searchers enter domain names into the search query box instead of the address bar, either deliberately or in error.
You can take advantage of domain searches by bidding on your domain name variations, competitor name variations (be aware of trademark) or common keywords teamed with top level domains like .com.
The beauty of it is that many broader or common keywords can't be trademarked so even if this is not your domain, you can still bid on the big keywords and get them even cheaper by combining them with strings like com or www. Eg. www.[insertmainkeywords].com
11) Competitor names, expert names and brands
You can also bid on the names of competitors, industry experts and brand names (please just be aware of any trademark infringements).
It's a similar concept to sites like Amazon where they promote similar products based on what you've searched for and this works tremendously well for them.
This is an easy and often cheaper way to find new customers, particularly if you're not well known or your products don't have a following yet – you can borrow on someone or something that does.
12) Verbs or action words
Using verbs or action words is another good way to find search term variations, eg.
Learn to speak Spanish
Learning to speak Spanish
While similar, these are treated differently and may have different bid costs and ad positions. Of course they're all relevant so you can attract a greater volume of targeted traffic by covering more variations.
13) Adjectives or descriptive words
Have you ever searched for the “best” of something? Searcher's often combine descriptive words with product or problem keywords, eg. “top 5 credit cards”.
It's worthwhile looking for these words to combine with your main keywords. If you use SpeedPPC, then you'll be able to combine these automatically and generate all the variations of long tail search terms.
Bidding on longer tail keywords can mean less competition and a lower bid price to boot.
14) Negative keywords
While you're searching for keywords to bid on, you'll also come across keywords that aren't relevant. Don't forget to take note of these as well. These can be used as negative keywords to up the quality of your traffic, because you're filtering out what doesn't apply. I've more than halved click costs on some campaigns, solely by using negative keywords.
Eg. If you offered only car loans, you might want to filter out people looking for other types of loans by using negative keywords such as “mortgage” or “home loans”.
15) Long tail keywords
Long tail search phrases usually contain 3 or more keywords. This is last because it can apply to all of the above, rather than being a separate list.
Longer tail keywords help you qualify your traffic so you can attract searchers that are further along in the purchase process and are ready to buy.
For example, someone searching for “Panasonic Viera Plasma TV” is closer to purchasing that specific TV than someone searching for “TV” (and who might be after repairs, TV guide, etc).
Difference between paid and free keyword research tools
Finding all the different variations of search terms that connect you with your customers can be exhausting work, but it's worth it (what was that about investments?). Done properly, you'll see greater traffic volumes, greater conversions, and greater profits.
This is also where good keyword research tools can make the job a whole lot easier for you.
Google's keyword tool is great (and free) for producing a basic list that you can then export and sift through manually. However, one of the downsides is that you could end up with huge exports of keyword variations that you then have to analyze and filter to isolate the keywords you want to bid on. While traffic trends can be indicative, if you're marketing on Yahoo or MSN, you'd also want specific information for these engines.
The difference between using a free and paid tool is usually the number of keyword sources and very importantly, the analysis and filtering capabilities.
For example, your perfect keyword might be:
- Bing search volume greater than 5,000 in the US
- No more than 20 competitive ads
- Between $0.05 and $2/click
- Filtered to remove certain words
Through a free keyword research tool, finding keywords that meet this criteria would be manual and some options may not even be possible.
When you're ready to invest in a paid keyword tool, compare for yourself:
- What sources they gather keywords from
- What analysis capability it has to spare you manual work on huge spreadsheets
- What filtering can be done to get rid of keywords that you don't want to invest in
Once you've got the right keywords to build the rest of your campaign on, you can then forge tight-knit relationships between your keywords, text ads and landing pages. The tighter the connection, the better your conversion, meaning you're wasting less money on ad click costs.
Plus the added relevancy boosts your quality score. With higher quality score, you're rewarded by only having to pay the bare minimum for your existing keywords and lower starting bids on new keywords. That's a huge competitive advantage, without having to fork out more money for it – in fact it'll actually save you money, which is great news if you're up against stiff competition.
You may have already done the math and realized that creating ads and landing pages directly relevant to each keyword could take you weeks, if not months if you've got thousands of keywords.
If you're keen to get more customers sooner, then you can use a tool like SpeedPPC to quickly build your pay per click campaigns, and auto-generate ads and landing pages based on each keyword for better click through rates, higher conversions and greater quality score.
We recently aired a training video on keyword research tips for SpeedPPC members that was very well received. We're also making it freely available to help Associate Programs readers and you'll find a lot of practical examples using both free and paid tools to build up your keyword research expertise.
You can watch the “Tips for Building a Killer Keyword List” video here.