Why Less Is More When It Comes To PPC Target Keywords

Added 10.09.21

One common question our paid search advertising team often gets asked is, "How many keywords should I include in my Google Ads account?" so today, we thought we'd explore the topic of choosing PPC keywords.

Building A Strong PPC Account

The foundation to achieving exceptional PPC performance is to establish a strong account structure. This requires taking the time to research, organise and develop:

  • Which keywords to include in each ad group
  • How many ads to include in each ad group
  • How relevant those keywords are to one another and the ads within each ad group

Ultimately in a PPC campaign, we are looking to carefully choose keywords and create tightly themed ad groups to capture qualified traffic most likely to convert within our PPC budget.

With that in mind, it doesn't make great sense to bloat your PPC account with too many keywords, and keeping campaigns to a manageable few focused around specific products, locations, or business objectives will stretch your budget further.

Google recommends having no more than 30 keywords within each ad group and creating two to three ads per ad group that use the keywords within the ad text.

While this is the general guide, it certainly isn't necessary to have the full 30 keywords in each ad group. Campaigns containing ad groups with as few as four or five keywords can still generate strong results, and having less than 30 keywords is often easier to organise and tailor more relevant ad copy.

Far more important than keyword number is their relevancy to a searcher's intent. Your keywords, ads, and landing pages need to be optimised and highly relevant to one another and genuinely aligned with the expressed interest of the searcher.

Building A Strong PPC Account

Focusing on High-Performance PPC Keywords

Discovering the best broad match keywords to include in an ad group will depend on your campaign goals, and which key performance indicators (KPI's) are important to you. For example, click-through rate, quality score and conversions may be the metrics you use to measure a keyword, ad or campaign's success.

To get the most mileage from your PPC budget, selectively focusing on keywords with high-performance metrics increases the likelihood we'll get some business from it if we create some relevant ads super-specific to that keyword.

With some quality keywords identified, you can create a tiered bidding strategy on each word in all four match types - Exact, Phrase, Modified Broad and Broad.

The more restrictive the match type, the more you may want to bid because the quality of traffic increases. The ROI on an exact match is typically much higher because, as it suggests, it is precisely what the searcher is looking for. Whereas a broad match is more open to interpretation and will include close variants, and while less targeted, often a broad match yields much higher volume.

Building Out Negative Keyword Lists

On the flipside of researching and developing your all-star keywords is the need to regularly build and monitor your negative keyword list properly. This list is particularly important if you use the broader match types as it will significantly help reduce costs and improve results.

The most effective way to identify negative keywords is by looking at what searchers are actually typing into Google that made your ads appear. You can use tools to view actual search query data to identify and set up single or multiple word negatives.

Keep in mind, you should also review currently set up negative lists to make sure there aren't any negatives blocking search terms that could be beneficial to your account.

Filter Out Negative Keywords to Improve Performance of Your PPC Campaigns

Pausing Keywords with Poor Performance

After you have given a keyword enough time to try to prove itself and accrue some performance data, you face a decision on whether to let it run or pause it.

Before pausing a keyword, it is good to investigate why the keyword is not performing well.

Often it will fall into one of the following scenarios:

  • Your keyword bid is not high enough.

    To ensure your bids are competitive enough, you may need to up your bid if the page #1 CPC and top of page bid estimate exceed your maximum bid.

  • The keyword has a low search volume.

    Even though you may be bidding enough, a keyword can perform poorly if not accruing much traffic. Low volume can happen if the keyword is too long-tailed or simply a phrase users don't regularly search for. It is a good idea to just pause these keywords to de-clutter your account. Also, it is prudent to pause keywords that get lots of impressions but few or no clicks; these will be hurting your click-through rate and Quality Score.

  • The match type you've selected is either too broad or too restrictive.

    If a keyword's volume is high, but its click-through and conversion rate is very low on a broad match type, pause it and add the keyword to a more restrictive match type to increase the relevancy. Conversely, if the keyword is set to exact or phrase but not getting any traffic, experiment with adding it as a modified broad or broad match to see how it performs when opened up to a larger volume.

Keyword Planning for Close Variants

In the past, PPC advertisers had to account for every variation of a keyword; however, Google has introduced 'close variants' to capture plurals, different tenses, misspellings, typos, abbreviations, and other versions of exact match or phrase match keywords.

While machine learning is getting better at understanding human intent, it is more crucial than ever to keep in mind close variants when doing keyword planning.

Choosing which keyword variants to focus on should come from researching historical data, auction price, human intuition, and following proven keyword structures.

Optimising PPC Ads & Landing Pages

Paid search advertising is not a set-it-and-forget-it exercise. Unless you have an unlimited budget to burn through, you need to optimise your ad text continuously.

The quality and relevance of your ad's text are crucial to getting searchers to your site.

It goes without saying your ads must be compelling and appropriate to your keywords for searchers to click on them and for your PPC campaign to drive traffic to your website successfully.

You should also ensure that any landing pages on your website that correspond to a PPC ad campaign contain matching keywords and content to your ad copy. Seamless transition lets any lead directed there immediately recognise they have arrived at the right site.

With a strong account structure, keyword planning, and regularly testing and tweaking your ad copy, you have a much better chance of improving PPC performance, impressions, click-through rates & conversions.

If you want expert guidance to help you get the most out of your paid search advertising efforts, give the friendly team at Zeemo a call.