7 Tips for Creating a PPC Keyword List

Posted August 28, 2012

Creating a keyword list for your PPC or search advertising campaign can be a challenge for any small business owner managing his or her own advertising. How long should your search keywords be? Should they be broad or specific? If you're running your own Google AdWords or other search advertising campaign to promote your local business, these few tips will help you create an optimal PPC keyword list.

1. Think Like Your (Potential) Customers

When selecting keywords for your search advertising campaign, think about what words and phrases your potential customers use to search for your products and services. In addition to keywords related to your business category, you may also want to select keywords for your most popular products or services.

It's also important to consider the reasons someone might look for your business type. For instance, if you install kitchen countertops, you may also want to bid on broader keywords like "kitchen remodeling" or "update kitchen." It's also a good idea to choose keywords that are present on your business website. These keywords have the most relevance to your search advertising campaign because they are the terms a consumer expects to find on your website when they click on your ads.

2. Start with Keyword Research

Conducting research with Google's Keyword Tool can help you come up with a core list of related keywords to use in your search ads. When you type a keyword or phrase into the tool, it provides a list of related keywords as well as the search volume and competitiveness of those keywords.  


You typically want to select keywords that have a higher search volume but lower competition. However, you may also want to choose some more specific keywords with a lower search volume because consumers searching for those phrases may be more likely to click on your ad and even convert into a lead.

3. Define Long-Tail Keywords

Long-tail keywords are phrases that contain three or more words and target a specific part of your business. These types of keywords typically have low search volume, but because they are less competitive, they also have a lower cost-per-click. Long-tail keywords can also result in higher-quality leads from your search advertising campaign because the consumer has specified exactly what he or she is looking for. This means if your ad matches the consumer's search query, he or she is more likely to click your ad and contact you.

4. Locally Target Keywords

Selecting local keywords for your search advertising campaign and using them in your text ads is a must for any local business. Using localized keywords is an effective way to show your ads only to consumers looking for products and services in your target market. You can easily modify your core keywords with local keywords -- such as the name of your neighborhood, city, or metro area -- depending on the area you serve as well as the areas your customers are most likely to search for.

5. Include Qualifying Terms

Another way to create relevant keywords is to add descriptive words to your core keyword. For instance, if you install kitchen countertops, you can use keywords related to  different materials to qualify the keyword "countertops," such as "marble countertop installation," "granite countertop installation," or "stone countertop installation," so your ad is more likely to display to consumers who search for those specific keywords.

6. Ask Questions

Search queries are often phrased in the form of a question. So, you can also use that tactic when creating your keyword list. For instance, a consumer may search for "How do I install kitchen countertops?" or "How do I choose a kitchen countertop?" Phrasing your keywords like "install kitchen countertops" or "choose a kitchen countertop" helps your ads show up to consumers searching for those specific terms.

7. Identify Negative Keywords

You can also identify negative keywords when setting up your search advertising campaign. Selecting negative keywords essentially means your ad will not be displayed when a consumer searches for a specific keyword. For example, if your business specializes in high-end countertops, you may opt to add terms like "budget," "discount," or "cheap" to your negative keyword list. This tactic can help you make sure your ads are reaching only the most relevant consumers. But be careful: using too many negative keywords can also mean your ads are reaching fewer customers, which can potentially have a negative impact on your quality score.

Selecting the right keywords is essential to kicking off your PPC advertising campaign. And, once your ads start showing up on search engines, it's important to monitor their performance and refine your keyword list based on the results of your campaign. If you're looking for a more robust approach to PPC advertising, consider using a search engine advertising company that specializes in keyword selection and ongoing campaign management.

As a Content Marketing Manager at ReachLocal (NASDAQ:RLOC) and writer for the ReachLocal blog, Tamara Weintraub helps local businesses reach more customers online with helpful tips about online advertising, social media marketing, and Web presence optimization.

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!

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