How keyword research will benefit your PPC campaigns

16 May 2023
Blue illustrations of people conducting keyword research

Whether you’ve never heard of PPC (pay-per-click) and are keen to learn more, you want to start using PPC in your business, or you already use PPC and want to deepen your understanding, this blog is for you.

Although keyword research can be time-consuming, it’s super important and offers numerous benefits to your company’s marketing strategy. Stay tuned and we’ll talk you through everything you need to know about keyword research for PPC campaigns.

What is PPC and how exactly does it benefit your company?

PPC stands for pay-per-click and is a model of digital marketing where the advertiser pays a fee each time one of their ads is clicked. In other words, you’re paying for targeted visits to your website, landing page, or app.

PPC ads come in all different sizes and shapes, and incorporate texts, images, or videos – perhaps even a combination of all three – to appear on search engines, websites, and social media platforms. Their use on social media platforms is steadily increasing as businesses harness the power of social media marketing.

One of the most popular PPC methods is search engine advertising, otherwise known as paid search, or search engine marketing. This allows advertisers to bid for an ad placement in a search engine’s sponsored links when a user searches for a related business offering.

Google Ads is the world’s single most popular PPC advertising platform, enabling businesses to create ads that appear high in Google’s search results. The importance of keywords cannot be understated, as Google selects the most appropriate ads, as well as where in a user’s search results to place them, based on these keywords.

Although it can be time-consuming, keyword research is crucial to successful PPC campaigns.

First of all, since you only pay when someone clicks your ad, PPC advertising is cost-effective and gives you complete control over how much you’re willing to spend.

They produce fast results too. While organic ranking takes months or even years to establish a first page presence, PPC advertising can shoot your business to the top of search results within just hours of launching. It’s also easy to control and test these ads, as you have power over the keywords you’re targeting, your budget, and the audience you’re trying to target.

What is the difference between keyword research for SEO and PPC?

Although the process of carrying out keyword research is similar irrespective of its ultimate use, there are some key differences between its implementation for PPC campaigns as compared to SEO strategy.

Keyword research for SEO is crucial to help search engines crawl your website and rank it accordingly on results pages, ultimately generating free, organic traffic. While there are concerns over the ever-changing algorithms of search engines, particularly Google, keywords are not impacted by algorithms, so their significance is unlikely to decline.

On the other hand, keywords for PPC campaigns are designed to achieve more traffic – and eventually sales – as a direct result of paid advertising. The entire advertising campaign begins with keywords, and although many businesses only conduct research to set up the campaign, the most successful advertisers are the ones who continuously refine and update their list of keywords.

In short, SEO aims to generate organic traffic, while the goal of PPC advertising is not just to drive clicks but to create sales.

What are the different types of keywords?

Keywords for PPC campaigns are separated into four categories:

– Informational

– Navigational

– Commercial

– Transactional

Informational words help users find information about their search, like ‘bakery in New York.’

Navigational words build on this, helping people find a specific location of a business they want to engage with. These typically include the brand or company name in addition to its location, so ‘Bella’s Bakery in New York,’ for example.

Whereas informational and navigational words help users with information, commercial, and transactional keywords are directed towards achieving a sale. Commercial keywords help people find more information on a planned purchase, such as ‘types of pastries’ or ‘best cake flavors.’

Transactional words have a similar purpose, but provide customers with direct sites or locations to buy, like ‘where to buy red velvet cake’ or ‘affordable baked bread in New York,’ for example.

Illustrations of keyword research on blue background

How to carry out keyword research

Keywords are not only the building blocks of your company’s online presence, they’re key to growing your business.

However, you’ve got to stand out. Google processes over 5.5 billion search queries every single day – that’s a lot of keywords to sift through! You need to identify the most fruitful keywords to tailor your content to interested audiences.

It can be a bit of a balancing act; if your search volume is too low, potential customers will struggle to  discover your ads, but if your keywords are too popular, you’ll end up overpaying for your ad clicks, or they might not appear in search results at all.

There are extensive online guides about how to conduct keyword research, but we’re providing you with the best practices and top tips for successful keyword research below.

1. Brainstorm

A good place to start is by brainstorming all the different topics and categories that make up your business – start broad and narrow down later!

It might sound obvious, but your keywords must be closely related to your offering. With a precious budget range on PPC campaigns, you don’t want to be paying for clicks that won’t convert into sales.

For example, you could break down your bakery business into the different items you sell: bread, whole cakes, cupcakes, and pastries.

Your complete list of keywords should not only include the most searched terms relating to your niche, but also long-tail keywords, which are less commonly searched for but account for a majority of search-driven traffic.

2. Comprehensive research

Since you’re conducting keyword research for a paid campaign, it’s important that you research the costs. Ideally, you want to have an idea of the costs before you officially begin, as it helps you determine whether words are in (or out) of your budget.

Most keyword tools include metrics around the cost-per-click (CPC) associated with each word. You want to ensure you can pay to appear in the top three slots, but not so high that you’re paying over-the-odds for a single click.

Additionally, you need to conduct negative keyword research. Although you’re trying to find words with the most positive responses, it’s just as important to know if your campaign is wasting money on irrelevant clicks from ineffective or over-used keywords.

3. Use keyword research tools

Now you need to identify keywords within each of the categories you’ve defined. Put yourself in the shoes of your customers; how would you go about finding your business if you were them?

Let’s return to the cakes category; you can further define this by the type of occasion or flavor. You might identify ‘wedding cakes’ as a popular term, for instance, or ‘red velvet.’

But it’s easy to miss relevant words that you should be targeting, so using a keyword tool, such as Google keyword planner, is crucial in ensuring you know all the keywords. These tools will also help to confirm whether your chosen words are too specific or too broad, helping you determine which ones are worth investing in.

4. Consider intent

The goal of PPC advertising is not just to drive clicks, but to generate sales. To target the most interested and qualified searchers, which typically drive more conversions and sales, you should focus your budget on commercial and transactional intent keywords.

These keywords contain phrases like ‘buy,’ ‘discount,’ or ‘free shipping,’ as these indicate the user is prepared to make a purchase.

You’ll probably still need to target keywords outside of this area, but you might want to allocate a larger portion of your budget to keywords with increased commercial intent.

5. Monitoring

Last, but certainly not least, it’s crucial that you continuously manage and track your PPC campaign to monitor how your selected keywords are performing.

PPC is iterative, meaning you should constantly refine and expand your keyword list to ensure your campaign is effective, adaptable, and always growing.

One way of doing this is through PPC management, which covers a wide range of techniques, such as creating and adjusting goals, split testing, introducing new keywords, and optimizing conversion paths.

PPC management also helps you assess your strategy and ad spend, looking at how to optimize keyword effectiveness, allocate resources to specific keywords, and adjust resources to maximize return on investment.

Hopefully, now you understand why keyword research is crucial to PPC campaigns and the various benefits it brings to your company’s advertising.

Are you still confused by PPC advertising? Need expert help with your PPC strategy? Get in touch with us to find out how we can help accelerate your campaigns.


Written by Annabelle Crook