Building a Paid Search campaign with Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords) is easy. Select a few keywords, write an ad, set a budget and whamo, you’re in business, right? It depends. If you want to be in the business of paying Google then yes, you’re in business but if you’re looking to build leads and sales, not so fast. Google makes it very easy for you to build a campaign – and the easiest of all is Google Express. But don’t expect it to perform. Why? The primary reason is poor keyword selection. “Come on, a keyword is a keyword, right?” Wrong. There is far more to keyword research and selection than you might think, especially in a competitive environment.
Identifying keywords to use for a Paid Search campaign starts by thinking about terms your customers will search from their perspective, not yours. Let’s say you sell corporate accounting services. Your top keywords should be corporate accounting services, corporate accounting, accounting for companies and so on, right? Maybe, maybe not. You need to think about this from the customer’s perspective. What are they going to search for? Possibly corporate accounting but consider the myriad other options such as, accounting firms, accounting companies, business accountants, best business accounting firm in Hartford, among others. After doing the research, you’ll often find hundreds of potentially winning combinations of terms used to find a single type of business. A strong effort starts with a core set of terms, adds similar terms and then adds adjectives to modify the base terms. Terms with three or more words are considered “Long Tail Keywords”. Coming up with a good and relevant set of long tail keywords has three benefits: 1) Your competition is less likely to have thought of them making the terms far less costly, 2) long tail keywords are specific and when paired with equally specific ads and landing page within a tightly-themed AdGroup, will perform better for the simple reason that you are presenting an ad and a landing page that answers a specific need or solves a specific problem. 3) Starting with a robust set of keywords gives you more data about which keywords are performing well and which are performing poorly. This allows you to more easily optimize the keywords by adjusting maximum bids at the keyword level based on performance. The two other things to consider when building keywords is Match Type and Negative Terms. Match Type sets the rules under which keywords will trigger your ads to show. Broad Match keywords gives Google carte blanche to modify the term with what they think is a match. Using the example above, Google may substitute jobs for companies which means when someone searches for “accounting jobs” your keyword for “accounting companies” will trigger an ad to show. Google’s logic is that some people searching for accounting companies are actually searching for accounting jobs …but what good does that do you? Long story short, don’t use Broad Match keywords. The opposite problem happens with Exact Match keywords where the exact term needs to be searched with nothing before, after or in-between. The problem with Exact Match is it leaves out plenty of good terms like, “best accounting companies”. Since this does not match exactly with “accounting companies”, your ad will not show. The happy medium is Broad Match Modifier and Phrase Match terms which allow additional terms before, after and in some cases, in the middle of the keyword but will not allow keyword replacements. If you are running either of these match types, Negative Keywords are very important. For example, if you are not a tax accountant, you may want to run a negative term for tax so that when someone searches for “tax accounting companies”, your ad doesn’t show. Other common negatives are free, cheap, jobs, sucks and other non-performing terms. Here at AdEdge we’ve amasses a list of hundreds of negatives terms by reviewing performance of hundreds of clients over our 12 years at this. By limiting irrelevant searches, a robust list of negative terms improves performance a great deal.
The process for selecting keywords for SEO is similar, but not the same. Before embarking on an SEO campaign, we often advise our clients to run a paid search campaign first so that we can see how suspected keywords are performing in their market, in the real world. We look at three things: 1) Search volume, 2) click volume and most importantly, 3) post-click performance. Post click performance is an evaluation of what website visitors did on your website after clicking your ad. How long did they stay on the site, how many pages did they view, which pages did they view, did they engage with the site and did they convert to a lead or sale? By aggregating performance of each keyword over time, we can identify a definitive list of keywords to push for your SEO. But we’re not done just yet. Before committing to these top keywords, we run them through a competitive analysis to see who else is ranking for those terms and how powerful their SEO is. Why? Because we don’t want to fight any big battles that we can’t win. Here’s a super short case study to prove the point. A real estate broker in Manhattan came to us in frustration with their SEO effort that was managed by a previous agency. They paid big money to rank for “NY Real Estate Broker” and other popular, relevant terms that describe their services. Sounds reasonable, right? Unfortunately, their agency failed to complete a competitive analysis that would have shown that page one of Google was crowded with some very big players like, Yelp and Zillow. These companies have very hard-hitting SEO that can be displaced only with a very substantial effort and six-figure+ budget. Instead, we researched our client’s top performing keywords, netted out against highly competitive terms and got them to rank on page one for several excellent keyword terms. The SEO work we did had a significant impact on their rank, website traffic and ultimately, leads.
Here at AdEdge Digital Marketing, we’re all about campaign optimization and performance. If you’re not sure how well your Paid Search or SEO effort is performing (whether it’s being managed internally or through an agency), feel free to contact us for a complimentary evaluation. Contact Anthony at 203-682-4585 or email