How to Develop an Effective AdWords Keyword Strategy

Dec 19 2017 | Aaron Gingras Aaron Gingras

When it comes to paid search, keywords are the backbone of any campaign. Having a strong keyword strategy is crucial for your ads to actually display on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page). Think of a keyword as oil and a campaign as a car… without the oil, your car won’t run. By reading this blog, you will learn how designing a proper keyword strategy within your campaign can help take your paid search marketing and advertising efforts to the next level of success.

1. Keyword Strategy 101

A keyword is a word or phrase that describes a product or service that your company offers. They help determine where and when your ad will appear. From a best practice standpoint, you want to make sure your keywords are relevant to what you are advertising so you can reach the most interested prospects, who are more likely to become your customers.

Creating a keyword list for your organization can help you determine which terms you want your company to rank for, while also identifying keywords that people are actually searching for. The end result is a high-quality list of keywords that can be utilized in your campaigns to improve the position and performance of your ads.

2. Keyword Match Types

Since there are an infinite number of ways that people can search for one term, Google has created Keyword Match Types, allowing you to set parameters around when your ads should be served relative to your targeted keywords. There are three keyword match types: broad match, exact match, and phrase match.

Broad Match

A keyword set to broad match will display your ad when the search term contains any or some combination of the words in your keyword, in any order.

For example, if your keyword is “women’s hats” your ad could show up for search terms such as “women’s hats for winter,” “women’s hats for sports,” “hats for women,” and “blue women’s hats.” The list of variations can literally go on and on.

To help with these types of search term variations, Google allows you to set keywords to a negative match, in order to help you refine them. This allows you to avoid having your ad displayed when a given search term is entered. For example, if I set the keyword “new” to negative match, my ad won’t show for any searches that contain that word, such as “used winter hats.”

Exact Match

A keyword set to exact match will only display your ad if the search term includes that exact keyword, with the words in that exact order. For example, if your keyword was once again “women’s hats,” your ad would be displayed only for that particular variation and nothing else.

Since there weren’t any other words appearing in the keyword, they would not be displayed like it would be for a broad match keyword type. To indicate you want to set up an exact match in your Google AdWords campaign, simply place brackets around your keywords like in the image below:


Phrase Match 

A keyword set to phrase match will display your ad if the search term contains the same order of words, but it can also contain additional words. For example, if I use the keyword “women’s hats” on phrase match and someone searches for “women’s hats for summer,” my ad will appear. However, if they search for “women’s blue hats for sports,” the ad will not appear. To indicate that you want to set up a phrase match in your Google AdWords campaign, simply utilize quotation marks around your keywords like in the image below:


3. Keyword Strategy Approaches Using Match Types 

So, what do keyword match types have to do with your overall paid search campaign strategy? And how do you know which ones to use and when in your campaigns? Multiple strategies exist for setting the right match types, and there is no correct solution. Here are a few approaches to evaluate as you develop your organization’s strategy:

Broad Match Keywords Can Be Your Best Friend and Greatest Enemy

To avoid missing out on potential leads who are using different search terms, a popular strategy is to open up a high volume of traffic using a broad match approach. A high volume of traffic may seem like a good thing, but not if it’s unqualified traffic. 

If someone types in the word “winter” and your keyword is “blue women’s winter hats,” your ad could show up even though the keyword “winter” is unrelated to your campaign. The searcher may click your ad, but since the search that showcased your ad was pretty vague, the chances of that individual turning into a lead are very low.

Monitoring your broad match keywords is extremely important to ensure that you’re not wasting money ranking for keywords that aren’t relevant to your offer and won’t convert. Be sure to negative out the search queries that are completely off topic and don’t make sense, so you can refine and optimize your keyword strategy for the long term.

Using Only Exact Match Keywords Has Limitations

Exact match keywords allow you to target a very particular audience. If you are only bidding utilizing an exact match strategy, however, you are severely limiting the potential impact and reach of your paid search campaign. Trying to guess search terms using only an exact match strategy will cause you to miss out on potential leads and customers who are using different terms.

Developing A Winning Keyword Strategy 

The best keyword strategy typically involves a combined approach where you utilize both broad and phrase match keywords. To build your organization’s strategy: 

  1. Look at the kind of search term traffic that is coming in based on the keywords you choose.
  2. Make the highest converting keywords exact match.
  3. Continue to utilize this process while leveraging the negative keyword function to refine your list and overall campaign strategy.
  4. Keep testing. Success is an ongoing process. Use the metrics from your campaigns to continue to optimize your keywords.

Learn more about how our team of Paid Search marketing experts can help you build a winning keyword strategy. 


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