Google Ads Keyword Research: A Quick Guide

29 Jul 2019 | Sukhesh Vadavil

Many years back when I was scrolling through a random webpage, I came across an ad for a product. What really surprised me was that I had searched for that item a few days back on Google. I was in awe, and a little bit anxious. I felt like I was being spied on. 

This is how ads work on Google. Everything you type into Google’s search bar is being used to show you advertisements. Even though it might seem like a normal thing now, back then these things would blow people’s minds! 

Ever since its inception in the year 2000, Google Ads has been nothing more than a resounding success, even becoming Google’s biggest source of income. One of the reasons for its popularity is that it is a very cost-effective advertising platform for businesses of all sizes. From small home-run businesses to huge companies, everyone uses Google Ads!

There are a couple of factors that decide if an ad is good or not. The ad must have an eye-catching creative, a brief but informative copy and lastly, it should be paired with relevant keywords. If you do not plan and choose your keywords well, your ad campaigns will not perform well. It is important to know how to research keywords, what different keywords you should use, and why you should use them.

Keyword research is the process of selecting words or phrases, someone might type into a search engine when they look for a specific product or service. It is a way of telling Google, who they should display your ads too. This is a crucial step if you are investing your time and money into promotion via Google Ads. Before we dwell into keyword research, let us take a brief look at how Google Ads function.

How advertising on Google Ads works:

  • When an advertiser creates an ad on Google, they have to identify keywords relevant to the industry their products/services belong to. 
  • If certain keywords are popular, and if there are many ads that run with those keywords, the competition will be high, and so will the bidding amount. Search and display ads use cost-per-click bidding (also known as pay-per-click). With CPC bidding, you’ll pay only when someone actually clicks on your ad and visits your site.
  • Suppose someone searches for something on Google, Google looks at the query and all the ads with those keywords and determines whether there will be an auction.
  • If 2 or more advertisers are bidding on the same keyword, an auction is triggered.
  • Once in the auction, Google assigns ranks to your ad depending on your bid and its quality score.
  • Quality score is a score ranging from 1-10, that determines the quality of your ads, keywords, and landing pages.
  • The ads’ ranks are compared, and the one with the better rank is displayed.

Google has its own tool that you can use to carry out keyword research. It is quite simple and easy to use. Just visit Google Keyword Planner, sign in and create an ad campaign by following the instructions given on the website. I will now guide you through a step by step process on conducting Google Ads keyword research.

How to research keywords using Google’s Keyword Planner

You need to create an ad campaign and set up payment methods to get access to the Keyword Planner tool:

  • Sign in to the Google Keyword Planner tool.
  • Select the type of business you are trying to promote. Enter a website for your business.
  • Select the region where your customers are located in.
  • Edit the type of ad you want to run. You can choose from different layouts. You can also create different versions of a single ad.
  • Add eye-catchy creatives to your ad. You can also add logos. 
  • Set a budget for your ad. A few different options will be suggested. 
  • Check all of your choices to make sure everything is correct.
  • Set up billing/payment methods.
  • After you’ve created your first campaign, you get access to the keyword research tools.

However, if you want to try out the Keyword Planner tool without creating an ad (or if you only want to use it for SEO), there’s a workaround that may not be obvious at a first glance.

  • Sign in to the Google Keyword Planner tool.
  • Click “Experienced with Google Ads?”.
  • On the next page, click on “Create an account without a campaign.”
  • Click “Submit” on the next page.
  • Finally, click on “Explore your account”.

You will now be able to access a slightly different version of Google’s Keyword Planner by clicking on “Tools” in the upper right corner of the page. You will see two options:

  1. Find keywords.
    Find keywords that you can use to reach more people who are interested in your products/services.
  2. Get search volume and forecasts.
    You can see search volume and other important data about your keywords. You can also predict the popularity and performance of your keywords.

Let’s select “Find keywords” for now.

  • At the top, you will find a search bar. You need to type in words that are relevant to the industry the product/service you are trying to market, belongs to.
  • You will then receive suggestions of keywords from Google along with stats such as the number of monthly searches for each keyword and the number of Ads that run with those keywords (competition). High competition means that there are a lot of ads from similar businesses that are running ads with a particular keyword.
  • You can then download this data and open it using any spreadsheet application. Sort the keywords in the descending order of monthly searches. You may delete the ones that barely have any monthly searches.
  • Analyse the remaining keywords. Keep the customers’ needs in mind and choose relevant keywords that a customer might use to find you. You don’t need to use keywords that are too general, too vague or ones that do not even relate to your industry.
  • What you are left with is a shortlist of keywords and phrases that people need to search for, if they want your products/services.

Types of Keywords

Let’s say I have a shop that sells a particular brand of perfume (let’s name it Stinkaway Deluxe). I would have to choose keywords that are related to my product. There are different types of keywords I can experiment with. Some of them are mentioned below.

  • Brand Keywords

These keywords contain the brand’s name. 

Examples: stinkaway, stinkaway.com, stink away, stinkaway online, etc.

  • Competitor Keywords

Here, I might choose to add keywords that mention some of my biggest competitors.

  • Generic Keywords

It’s always good to have a few generic keywords that someone might use to search for your product. 

Examples: perfume online, buy perfume online, best perfume online, etc.

  • Related Keywords

A little broader, these are keywords that people might use to look for your (or your competitors’) products.

Examples: deo buy online, buy body spray, buy deodorant online, etc.

Points to keep in mind while choosing keywords!

  • Do not be too broad with your keywords. Only “perfume” can mean many things. People could be looking for the movie/book with the same name. A better choice would be “buy perfumes”. 
  • Keep your customers in mind. It’s very easy to choose keywords that might represent your products/services but these might not be the words that a person might search for on Google. Choose relevant keywords that they would type into a search bar.
  • Keyword popularity can be affected by seasonal demands, region, and many other factors! A lot more people are going to be searching for keywords like “gifts” and “decorations” before Christmas. These seasonal keywords are not popular during the rest of the year. This could affect the average monthly search values. 
  • Long-tail keywords (example: “men’s perfume stinkaway buy online”) are specific and the competition will be very less compared to the more common keywords. These may not get you a lot of attention, but users who find your ad will be more likely to click on it and buy your product.
  • A lot of people use voice commands on Google. Include a few long-tail keywords that people might actually say (example: “Where can I buy perfumes online?”).
  • Check out our article on Deadly Keyword Research Mistakes to Avoid.

There is also an option called “match types” that help control which searches can trigger your ad. Read more about that here.

All in all, setting up ad campaigns on Google is simpler than it seems. Just pay a little extra attention to your keywords for better reach!

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