Have you ever searched for something online, only to find that the technical term for what your were looking for was nothing like the words you used to describe it? It’s sort of the equivalent of singing “la la la” to parts of songs where you don’t know the words.

Each of your potential customers is going to be using search terms that vary. Some might use specific terms because they know more about what they are looking for. Some might use regional jargon specific to a certain area. Others might use vague terms since they are just starting their research about a product or service.

This is why you need to create keyword lists when advertising on Google. Google Ads is powered almost entirely by keywords, which allows Google to weigh the relevency between your ad and a search to make sure that it’s a match and a positive experience for a Google user.

So here are some tips from Google that can help you up your game and make sure that you are using the right keywords to achieve your business objectives.

Start with the basics

What products do you sell? What content is available on your website? What do people associate with your brand? These are the easiest places to start when defining keywords. If I sell ergonomic office chairs, then ergonomic office chair would certainly be a part of my keyword strategy.

But if I create a video on my website around being comfortable at work, then maybe I would also add in a keyword like comfortable chair for work or comfy office chair. If my brand Tony’s Chairs is well known, then I would also want to use my brand name along with model names in case someone is searching for something specific.

Sure, people searching for a specific model will probably also be able to find my organic link a bit further down the SERP (search engine results page) but there is a lot to be said for owning that keyword and making the path to purchase as short as possible for my customer.

Organize your keywords

Breaking down your lists into themes lets you more easily identify what’s working and what’s not. If all of your keywords are grouped together, you will have to go through by hand. If you have hundreds of keywords, you know that this is impossible.

There are many ways to organize your keywords, and it depends on your business strategy. Many Google advertisers organize their keywords into branded and generic keywords (alternatively known as top of the funnel and bottom of the funnel keywords). If your paid search strategy is about gaining new customers that don’t know about your brand, then your generic search keywords could be organized by theme or type of product.

You can also group your keywords based on their performance, putting the highest performing keywords (based on the KPIs that you’ve defined) into one group and the ones that are not performing as well into a different group. Then when you want to do some testing, you can focus only on the ones that you want to improve, while leaving the others to drive results for your business.

Match keywords to specific customers

Google loves using the shoes example in their Google Ads Academy, and this is an easy one. Men and women tend to have different types of shoes, so adding qualifying words into your keywords can increase relevancy of your keywords. Men’s basketball shoes will match better with searchers that are men and who are searching for basketball shoes (or visiting a basketball site via the Google Display Network).

Qualifiers can come before or after in your keyword, it really depends on the performance and how people search. It would be smart to test between men’s city sneakers and city sneakers for men to reach the people searching in two different ways.

Use negative keywords

No, this is not about making people feel bad! This is about excluding certain words that people search for in order to prevent Google from showing your ad to someone that wouldn’t find what they are looking for. For example if you are using the keyword “veterinary services” in a local city, but you don’t take care of snakes, you can exclude “snakes” as a negative keyword so that people looking for help with their sick snake don’t come to your site or call you.

Don’t sell yourself short

Google recommends using between 5 and 20 keywords per group. Google will automatically account for misspelling and pluralization, so you don’t have to worry about adding those in. Each group should revolve around the same theme so that Google knows which one to pick for each type of search.

Since your business revolves around selling, a lot of keywords can gain traction by adding words like “discount” or “sale.”

Getting creative and thorough with your keywords can pay big dividends, so don’t hesitate to add more keywords into each group to see what the outcome is. What’s important is keeping a record of your testing and learning process so that you don’t cycle back through lower-performing keywords as you evolve your keyword strategy over time.


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