Keyword research — just those two words sound daunting enough, without even understanding all the details. But there’s good news! Once you have an understanding of what keywords are and how they function, the research isn’t as daunting anymore. 

There is a vast amount of keyword tools, such as Google AdWords Keywords, that you can use for research and rankings and some great ways to plan and commit to a strategy.

Researching keywords doesn’t have to be hard, tedious, or boring. Read on to learn about how to tackle this daunting task and move forward with your search engine optimization (SEO).

What is keyword research exactly

Keywords are like the bread and butter of SEO. Imagine this: You pour your heart and soul into creating content, but no one types your words into Google. It’s like you’re whispering in a noisy room — no one’s paying attention.

And that is where keywords come in. These words are the most important words in any content you create, including website content, blogs, social media posts, and other material you put online. Let’s look at how to research them so you are finding the best words to put in your content to benefit your brand.

Keyword research tools and resources

Google AdWords or Google Ads has always been at the forefront of keyword planning. Its unique solutions to keywords are detailed and organized, containing all the information a marketing team could ever need. 

Google Keyword Planner isn’t the only tool available for your search campaigns. Here are other solutions available:

  • Semrush: This solution is like a turbocharged SEO machine. It’s not only about keywords; they have a whole arsenal of tools. But let’s talk about keywords. Type in your term and get the search volume, cost per click (CPC), and a sneak peek at the search results. It’s like peering into the minds of your target audience and crafting content that speaks just to them.
  • Ahrefs: This is one of the easiest-to-use and most value-pakes tools to extract keywords and keyword suggestions. Ahrefs will give you the scoop on keywords, rankings, backlinks, and anything else you need to know. It can also provide keyword information similar to Semrush.
  • AnswerThePublic: Toss in a keyword or topic, and it splashes a flood of potential search queries. This means infinite content ideas and a direct line to what people are Googling.

These are all excellent alternatives, but to be honest, it doesn’t matter which one you use. Just pick one to help you with your keyword research and get ready to get started.

How to identify your target audience and their search intent

Google knows more about what your customers are looking for than most of them do themselves. For example, when they type in the words “best cars for safety,” Google doesn’t send them to a dealership with cars. Instead, it sends them to product reviews and safety ratings so they can learn about which cars are the safest. This is why you need to be intentional about which words you use in your content. 

But before that, you need to know who your customers are and what exactly they are trying to search for. Once you know who your target audience is, you’ll be able to find the right words to speak to them. You’ll be able to focus their attention on your brand and your products or services. 

So, how do you identify this audience? Ask yourself:

  • How old is my ideal customer?
  • Are they male? Female? Or both?
  • What is their financial status?
  • Are they married or single?
  • Do they have kids?
  • What are their hobbies?

Put together a profile of exactly who you want to sell to, and you’ll be able to speak to what their search intent truly is.

Use competitor analysis to inform keyword research

Once you know who your ideal customer is, you can start looking to see what keywords you should be using. Identify your competitors and start looking at their websites for new keyword ideas.

Look for words that are similar to what you think yours should be. For example, if you are looking at the word shoes, see what your competitor is using. Maybe they are using “blue shoes,” “high-heels,” and “sandals.” See what makes sense for your company.

After you have a solid list in place, analyze it using a keyword research tool. See which keywords make the most sense for your company. See what the average monthly searches are. Then narrow your list down to which keywords are most important for you.

Use the different types of keywords: Short-tail, long-tail, and branded

Using a variety of keywords in your copy is important. There are four different types of keywords to use, and you should have a good mix of all of them scattered throughout your content. 

Let’s take a look:

  • Short-tail keywords: These are one- or two-word phrases. Think “shoes” or “marketing.” They have a high monthly search volume, but there is a lot of competition with these words. These may also be known as “seed” keywords, as they are usually the seed that starts the process of growing your list with other related keywords.
  • Long-tail keywords: These are longer phrases, like “running shoes for women” or “digital marketing agency.” They have lower search rates but higher conversion rates since they are more specific.
  • Branded keywords: These are words that are specific to your brand. Think “Nike shoes” or “Publicis Worldwide marketing agency.”

By using a good mix of these, you will draw the crowd that is just browsing, those looking for ideas, and the group of people looking for something specific.

Create a keyword strategy

Beyond just knowing what your keywords are, it’s important to have a specific strategy for them. 

How are you going to use them? Or discover new keywords in the future? How are you going to add seasonal keywords and phrases related to your current keywords? 

Organizing and continual research is an important part of your keyword strategy going forward. 

How to prioritize and organize your keywords

Use Google’s Keyword Planner or another tool to help you organize your keywords and generate keyword ideas. 

There are several different ways to use this tool to help you organize your keyword lists:

  • Add your known keywords. Add one or more keywords that you are aware of, and Google will come up with related keywords. You can also upload a CSV file and Google will work its magic.
  • Use your domain. Share your domain with Google and it will scour your website, looking for relevant keywords.

Once you’ve entered your keywords, Google has an auto-organize feature that can help you put your words into groups to use for content. It’ll also give you different words you can add to your groups. From there, you can refine your words and use the ones that make the most sense.

Map keywords to specific landing pages and ad groups

Keyword mapping involves assigning each specific keyword to a page on your website. Since Google ranks each specific URL, all of your pages need to have the relevant keywords on them.

To get started, outline your website’s hierarchy on a spreadsheet. Then, build a subdirectory with each unique URL (page) of your site. Consider what the main keyword for each page should be and plug those in first. Then, add secondary keywords that most logically fit.

After you’ve filled out the entire spreadsheet and plugged in your keywords, double-check to make sure every website URL is different from the other ones.

Set keyword match types and negative keywords

You have access to four distinct keyword match types in the Google Keyword Tool. They are broad match, phrase match, exact match, and negative match. 

Let’s delve into each match type:

  • Broad match: When using this in ads, your advertisements will appear for any search that has a word similar to your keyword.
  • Phrase match: Opting for phrase match means your ads appear for search intents that share the same meaning as your keyword or more specific forms of it.
  • Exact match: For this one, your ads are visible only for queries that exactly match the context of your target keywords. This includes singular or plural forms, abbreviations, and even misspellings.
  • Negative keyword: Negative keywords are a tool that lets you exclude keywords and not show your ads from specific queries, allowing you to target your intended users. Your ads will appear for relevant terms but won’t be triggered by the term you’ve specified. You can have negative broad, phrase, or exact matches as listed above.

When creating your Google ads, you’ll be asked to fill in these keyword options.

Estimate keyword search volume and cost per click

When placing ads, you’ll want to know how much you are paying for the ads. This is based on cost per click or CPC. This is the cost that you pay every time someone clicks on your ad. Google Ads Keyword Planner can help you estimate what these costs will be. 

When you’re looking at the list of keywords that you have, there will be two different dollar amounts associated with each. The smaller amount is the low end of what companies are paying per click, and the higher amount is the top end. You can use these numbers to set your bid for your pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns

If your bid is too low, your ads may not be shown by the search engines. If it’s too high, you’ll use your budget too quickly.

Also within Google’s box of free tools is a keyword position checker. This tool will give you an estimation of how many searches are being done for your specific keywords.

By using both of these tools, you’ll be able to give yourself a rough estimate of how much money you’ll spend when running Google Ads.

Build effective ad groups

The entire reason Google has ad groups is to structure ads to maximize profitability and effectiveness. But in order for this to happen, your ads need to be hyper-focused on keywords. 

Every ad group should have specific keywords that pertain to a specific audience. For example, men’s shoes and women’s shoes will have different audiences and different keywords. 

Ad group structure and organization

Your AdWords account structure is a critical piece of getting your ads right. There are two main ways of creating effective ad groups that will support your marketing campaigns.

Match-type focused ad groups

Match-type segmentation is an effective ad group style with immediate benefits. This approach involves creating dedicated ad groups for each keyword match type

For example, you’d have separate ad groups for “red shoes” in both broad match and exact match versions. Segmenting by match types enables tiered bidding strategies due to their varying performance. You can keep them entirely separate and not solely rely on bids. 

This gives you tighter control over your most valuable keywords.

Top performers and query farming

Another approach focuses on creating ad groups for consistently converting queries. Start with broad match keywords related to a product. As converting queries surface in search query reports, extract them. Exclude them from your general ad group and create a specialized ad group for each query. 

This method simplifies negative keyword management, localizing negatives to a few broad ad groups.

Choose which method makes the most sense to your company when creating your ads.

Craft compelling ad copy with targeted keywords

As with any online material, the copy you use in your ads will matter. Your keywords should be used in all copies you write. Think about what your target audience will be typing in the search bar, and craft your wording around that. 

Using the right keywords for each audience will make a difference in the click-through rate (CTR) of your ads. For example, if you are advertising women’s shoes, exclude the keywords that don’t make sense for that audience, like “boys’ blue shoes.” Every individual ad you write should have its own copy, specific to the audience you are trying to reach. 

Use ad extensions to enhance ad performance

Your Google Ads account will allow you to include ad extensions in your ads. These are little pieces of information, like links and phone numbers, that you can include in your ad. This gives your customers more information and makes your ad more compelling.

With so much information online, these extensions help people realize the legitimacy of your business. In fact, adding extensions can increase your click-through rates by up to 15%, according to Google.

Another thing to consider? Ad extensions make your ad larger. They take up more space and stand out more, so they push other ads aside and move the organic searches lower on the screen. This puts you directly in front of the person you are advertising to.

Test and optimize ad performance through A/B testing

One of the best ways to get the most out of your ad campaign is to do split testing. Split testing, or A/B testing, compares two different versions of your ad to see which one outperforms the other.

You take your first ad and decide which variants you want to change. Then Google runs both the first ad and the modified version to see which one performs better. You can continue this through several iterations and check your metrics to see which ad “wins.”

A/B testing allows you to continually optimize your ads and improve your campaigns. It also tends to lower costs naturally.

Monitor and measure keyword performance

Measuring the performance of your ads and keywords is critical. It can save you from spending thousands of dollars of unnecessary money on ads. 

It also gives you a chance to refine your keyword list, find low-competition keywords, and tweak your ads so you are getting the most bang for your buck. 

Set up conversion tracking and analyze conversion data

In order to set up tracking on your ads, you’ll have to add a snippet of code to your website. This can be found in your Google AdWords account. By setting up this conversion tracking, you’ll be able to see how your ads are doing. You’ll be able to see different activities on your website, such as what pages people visit, email sign-ups, purchases, and more. 

This will give you key data to analyze so you can improve conversion rates and increase your sales. 

Monitor keyword performance metrics such as click-through rate and Quality Score

Google AdWords has a host of metrics and information to help you determine how well your ads are performing. 

A few of them to keep an eye on are:

  • Quality Score. This measures how effective your keywords are, and it affects your ad rank and CPC. As you tweak your ads, you’ll want to aim for this score to go up by making sure your keywords are relevant to your audience and the URL you are sending people to.
  • Click-through rate. This tells you how often your audience views your ad versus how often they click on it. The better your click-through rate, the better your ad is doing.
  • Average conversion rate. This tracks how many conversions you get from a specific ad. If you are getting a lot of traffic but very few conversions, you may need to adjust your ad.
  • Cost per click. The amount you pay every time someone clicks on your ad. This is often less than the amount you put as your max bid when setting up your ad.

Adjust keyword bids and budgets based on performance data

Based on the data you pull from your ads, you may need to go back into your keyword planner tool and make some adjustments to your keyword strategy. You may need to find additional or more competitive keywords

But don’t be hasty. Wait for the data to come in. Make smart adjustments based on what it tells you and keep moving forward. Use the data provided to evaluate, tweak, rerun, and reevaluate, and soon your ads will be performing as you want them to.

Identify opportunities for expansion and growth through keyword research and analysis

Google AdWords Keywords tool has a host of benefits, all with commercial intent. Use this tool for keyword forecasting, keyword gap analysis, and more. 

Stay involved with this tool. The more you use it, the more opportunities you will find to expand your knowledge and close any gaps you missed the first time. 

Keyword analysis is crucial for all your SEO and ad purposes

Navigating the world of Google AdWords keyword planning might seem overwhelming at first, but armed with the right knowledge, tools, and strategies, you can master this essential aspect of digital marketing. Keywords form the foundation of successful SEO and advertising campaigns. By understanding your audience, honing in on relevant keywords, and structuring your ad groups effectively, you set yourself up for success.

Remember, quality is paramount. Your choice of keywords directly influences the visibility of your content and the effectiveness of your campaigns. Tailor your ads to speak directly to your audience’s intent and needs.

Regular monitoring, analyzing, and optimizing are crucial to fine-tune your strategy. Gauge your keyword performance metrics like Quality Score, click-through rate, conversion rate, and cost per click. These metrics provide valuable insights into your campaigns’ effectiveness. 

Ultimately, the Google AdWords keyword planning is an ongoing process. Stay curious, adapt to changes in trends, refine your strategy, and keep refining your keyword lists. By staying proactive, you’ll be able to continuously improve your campaigns, maximize your ROI, and drive meaningful results for your business.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Keyword Planner?

Keyword Planner is a tool that helps you build strong keyword lists and plan your marketing strategy. It assists in generating keyword ideas and bid estimations. 

How do I use Google Keyword Planner?

When you access Google Keyword Planner, you can discover new keywords related to your business or see what your competitors are using. You can use it to help you with your website SEO and to place ads on Google AdWords

What are the benefits of using Keyword Planner?

Keyword Planner helps you research keywords for your marketing campaigns. You can use Keyword planner to find keyword ideas, discover new keywords related to your business and see estimates of the search volume and forecasts, as well as the cost to target them.