PPC strategies

PPC Strategies: Keyword Research for Your Campaign

So you’ve done your research and decided that PPC campaigns are a good marketing strategy for your business. All professional marketers know the value PPC campaigns have and the potential returns they offer. 

But how do you decide which keywords to target? How do you make sure you’re not wasting your marketing budget on ineffective keywords that your ideal customers aren’t using?

Many businesses fall into the trap of using general, overused keywords that eat up their marketing budget or worse still, avoid PPC campaigns altogether to avoid making mistakes.

In this guide, we’ll cover the simple process of conducting effective keyword research and how you can use this to run successful PPC campaigns. 

Organic versus PPC keyword research

The big difference between an organic search and a PPC keyword search is the cost. An organic search focuses on unpaid ranking in Google search results, whereas a paid search focuses on paid rankings or the Google ads at the very top of a search.

When optimizing organic search, you should focus on creating quality content and optimizing keyword research to help your content appear in search results.

On the other hand, a PPC campaign will cost a specific amount per click and then compete with other Google ads for a spot in the paid search results, depending on the PPC channel you use.  

Benefits of organic search

Benefits of organic search

Zero marketing cost

There are no costs associated with organic searches so you don’t need to factor this into your monthly marketing budget. 

Impressive ROI

Optimizing your website to show up in organic search results has an impressive return on investment (ROI). That’s why 90% of professional marketers will focus on SEO as part of a wider marketing strategy. 

Boosts credibility

When your website shows up as the first result of an organic search, it makes you credible in the eyes of the buyer. In fact, companies that only appear in the ad section but not in the organic search can seem less credible buyers. 

It also increases brand awareness. If your brand consistently shows up in organic searches for a specific niche, you’ll become a known brand to your customers. 

Benefits of paid search

Benefits of paid search

That’s not to say you should only focus on organic search and optimizing SEO. Paid search also has some key advantages.

Generates instant results

It takes significant time and effort to optimize your site to show up in organic search results. Whereas PPC strategies enable your website to show up almost immediately. 

Google approves ads in minutes, meaning your products and services will begin to show up to clients straight away while you continue to work on organic optimization. 

Paid search offers keyword data for SEO

A PPC ads agency will generate valuable insight into keyword metrics that you can use to improve your organic searches.

For example, a plumbing company might find that they are consistently getting hits for Landlord Safety Checks. So they decide to add a separate web page that is optimized for this keyword to increase organic traffic.

Your PPC campaigns will generate useful information on:

  • Keywords
  • Location
  • Age
  • And more

This demographic information isn’t just useful for search engine optimization (SEO) and paid campaigns. It can also be used to improve your email marketing campaigns and social media content. 

Equally impressive ROI

Although all PPC strategies are different, research has shown that generally, companies will have an average ROI of $2 for every $1 spent on ads. 

Although organic searches yield a good conversion rate, this is a more immediate return and can easily be tweaked to improve the investment.

Attract primed customers

When a potential customer clicks on an ad, they have the intention to buy a service or product. That means your PPC campaigns will attract warm leads, not just interested users. 

Although transactional searches often come with a higher cost-per-click, they do offer an impressive return because the customers they attract are ready to buy. 

Importance of keywords for a PPC campaign

The success of any PPC campaign depends on finding the right keyword strategy. There is a four-step process you need to go through to make sure you are using the right keywords and optimizing your campaigns.

PPC keyword research strategyThe first step is conducting thorough keyword research to brainstorm the most relevant keywords for your campaign. You can use keyword research tools or competitor analysis to find the most relevant long-tail keywords for your product or service.

Keyword grouping

Once you have a list of keywords, grouping them into specific related niches will help organize campaigns and show up in more searches.

  1. Negative keywords

Setting negative keywords will let Google know what you don’t want to show up in searches for. This helps filter out useless searches and stops you paying for unwanted clicks. 

  1. Bid optimization

It’s important not to overspend when running PPC campaigns, which is where bid optimization comes in. 

Optimizing your bids for targeted keywords is an important part of your PPC campaign management. It will make sure you don’t overspend on ineffective keywords but still win top placements for the best search terms.

Your keyword research strategy

Setting a keyword research strategy

When it comes to the first step in the PPC campaign process, there are a few different ways you can conduct keyword research. 

Brainstorming PPC Keyword Lists

When you first start out with a PPC campaign, your keywords won’t be perfect. There will inevitably be some trial and error. 

So begin by doing a brainstorming session and think about what your customers will be searching to find your product or service. What would they type into the search queries?

Make a long list of ideas, no matter how general. You’ll begin to narrow it down in the next steps. 

Check Your Competitors

Competitor analysis is one of the easiest ways to narrow down your keyword research and figure out what works well. 

You can use keyword research PPC keyword tools like BuzzSumo or SemRush to find out which keywords your top competitors are ranking for and begin to build your campaign around those words.

Refine Your List 

Now you can begin refining your keyword list using keyword tools like Google Keyword Planner. Keywords that are too general will be extremely hard to compete for and won’t give a great ROI. Whereas niche keywords and long-tail keywords will be easier to compete for and bring in more unique customers.

Don’t discount competitive keywords altogether though. Generic terms will be useful to help optimize your content and make sure you’re showing up alongside your competitors in general searches.

Group Keywords into Ad Groups

As we talked about earlier, grouping your keyword suggestions into specific ad groups will help you create much more targeted campaigns. If you have multiple products or services, these are a good place to begin when creating Ad groups.

PPC strategies to get the best results

Focus on product or service-specific keywords

Although it’s important to show up in searches related to your brand, you should begin by focusing on product or service-specific keywords. 

Use high-intent keywords

Using high-intent keywords

Customers who use high-intent keywords are primed to buy and looking to make a purchase. They are already far along in the buying process and so are searching with high intent.

For example, they might use a search term like “sale”, “free delivery”, or “interest-free” along with a product or service keyword. These all show they are ready to purchase and so are good keywords to target with PPC campaigns. 

Consider keyword match type

The effectiveness of a keyword in a PPC campaign depends on the match type. Broad match gives Google more free reign to show your ad in more searches that it thinks relates to your keyword. Whereas an exact match means you’ll only show up when the exact keyword is used.

Whether or not you use an exact or broad match will depend on the keyword you are targeting. But keep this in mind if you begin to show up in broad searches that are unrelated to your business. 


Keyword research for PPC campaigns can feel overwhelming. There are a lot of important factors to take into account to get the best results, but when done right, the ROI can be impressive. 

There will always be some trial and error when targeting keywords for a PPC campaign, but by following the tips we’ve talked about in this article, you’ll avoid many of the common pitfalls businesses experience when beginning paid ads. 
Incorporating relevant and cost-effective keywords in your strategy is essential to the success of PPC campaigns. Reach out to our PPC ads agency today to see how we can help you.