Most of us know what keywords are but not many know how to use keywords for PPC. In this post we will explain the difference between keywords and queries, keyword match types, negative keywords, and how to use keywords to manage your PPC cost. Understanding in this area is fundamental. It can and will make the difference between whether you manage your advertising costs or wind up severely overspending.
Keywords ≠ Queries
The first thing you need to understand with keywords for PPC is the difference between a keyword and a query. They may seem like the same thing but they ARE NOT. A keyword is a word or phrase that marketers target in Ad Campaigns and in SEO. When a keyword is used well on a page (appears a certain number of times in the body, is present in image alt text, appears in title, h1, and h2 tags, etc.) that page has a better chance of appearing in Google SERPS for certain search queries.
So how is that any different from a query? It’s different because a user does not only have to type in your keyword(s) to see your results. A query is what users type into Google in order to acquire information. When a user types in “desk chairs for sale” it’s possible to see an Ad headline that reads, “Wayfair® Home Office Furniture – All Orders Over $49 Ship Free” or an organic result that reads “Office Chairs & Seating – Overstock.com”. Not only is it possible, but we did that exact search and found those results ourselves for research for this article.
The point is Google is a smart search engine. Even though your keywords might be slightly different from the user query, you still may have a chance to show up if the query is close enough. Back to our previous results above, we typed in desk chairs but got an Ad headline that read “Home Office Furniture” and an organic result that said “Office Chairs & Seating”. Office Furniture and Office Chairs are close enough to Desk Chair to make the cut. You will see the significance of this later, but it is important to have this concept if you want to effectively use keywords for PPC.
Keyword Match Types
Now that you understand the difference between keywords and queries it’s time to learn about keyword match types. In AdWords there are 4 match types: broad match, broad match modified, phrase match, and exact match. There are also negative keywords, but we will cover that later. Match types enable you to control how strict Google is with whether or not it shows your keywords or not. Broad match gives Google the most freedom and exact match gives Google the least freedom. What do we mean by freedom? Remember, a users query does not have to be exactly the same as your keyword for Google to show your content or Ads. So, with broad match you are giving Google total freedom to try to match your Ads with many different types of queries. This will make more sense later, but as good as that sounds you actually don’t want to always give Google total freedom with your keywords.
As we said before, broad match allows Google total freedom to try to guess what user queries would work well with your ads based on your ads and the keywords you are targeting. To enter a broad match keyword into your campaign you simply put the keyword in and press enter. Broad match is the default.
So, what does this mean? Let’s say one of your keywords is plastic desk chairs. An example of a query that could trigger your ad would be “office accessories” or “desk chair parts”. That’s fine, but you might not want to advertise for people searching for “office accessories” because that may be to broad. You also might not want someone searching for “desk chair parts” because you are trying to sell plastic desk chairs not chair parts. So how do we fix that? Use better match type keywords for PPC! Broad match types are good for gathering data and figuring out what people are searching for, but ultimately you will wind up using other match types.
Broad Match Modified
Broad match modified keywords slightly restrict how liberal Google can be with picking user queries it displays your ads for. In order to use broad match modified you put a plus sign (+) before each word you want to have a broad match modified type. DO NOT put a space between your plus sign and your keyword or it will not work. For our example let’s say we want to us a broad match modified keyword for PPC and it’s +plastic +desk +chairs. What does this mean? This means that Google will only show ads for queries that, in no particular order, include the words plastic, desk, and chairs. Possible queries our ad could show for include, “plastic office desk chairs” or “buy desk chairs that are plastic”.
This is useful because it forces Google to only display your ads when certain words are typed into the query. Now you should see how this gives you a little bit more control over what queries will trigger your ads. The weakness with this is someone could still type in “plastic desk chair parts” and you ad would show up even though you might not sell parts. Luckily, there is an easy way around this by using negative keywords which we’ll talk about later.
In using keywords for PPC this offers the second most strictness on Google. In order to use phrase match you put quotation marks around your keyword. This will be easiest to explain with an example. Let’s say we use “plastic desk chairs” for our phrase match keyword. This would mean that the words plastic, desk, and chairs have to appear in the users query and in that exact order. So, someone could type in “buy plastic desk chairs” or “plastic desk chair parts” and your ad would be eligible to show. Something like “desk chairs plastic” or “plastic chairs for desks” would not work.
Quick Side Note: Google does not count small discrepancies in your keywords and queries like the difference between chair and chairs or adding “ing” to a word, or misspellings of words as materially different. It will still show your ads and other organic results based on it’s best assessment of what the user is looking for.
Notice that other words are still allowed to be in the users query as long as the query contains the words plastic, desk, and chairs in that order. So you are still letting Google guess a little bit, but you are restricting them a bit more than with broad match modified because you are specifying both the words that must be present and the word order.
Exact match keywords for PPC restrict Google the most. To use exact match you put brackets around your keyword. For our example let’s say we use [plastic desk chair]. The only query that our ad is eligible for is “plastic desk chair”. Keep in mind, just because this is exact match that does not mean things like misspellings or plurality would affect eligibility. If someone typed in “plastic desk chairs” or plastick desk chair” our ad would still be eligible. Trust us, you will be thankful Google does this. People make mistakes when they type all the time, and you don’t want your ad campaigns suffering for it.
So, that’s great, but do we have to use exact match keyword types if we don’t want our ads to show for certain queries like “plastic desk chair parts”? Nope! All you have to do is make sure you use negative keywords with your match types. This is why it is so important to understand as much as possible about keywords for PPC.
Negative keywords are what allow you to sculpt your traffic. When you use negative keywords you are telling Google which terms or phrases you do not want to advertise for. These could include words like free, cheap, used, do it yourself, cost, blog, parts, second-hand, and etc. By using super specific keyword match types with negative keywords you can sculpt your traffic to come from super specific queries.
Quick Note: You can have negative keywords at the campaign level and at the ad group level. Add negative keywords at the campaign level that you would never ever want to advertise for. Add negative keywords at the ad group level for terms that might make sense for your overall business, but not for that ad group specifically.
Adding negative keywords is pretty simple. On either your campaign or ad group, navigate to the keywords tab in the main menu then click “negative keywords” in the sub menu. This is where you can start adding your negative keywords. Where it gets interesting is the fact that you can use all the match types we just discussed in your negative keywords. What does that mean?
Let’s say we add free as a negative keyword. That means that our ad would not be eligible for any query that includes the word free. But what if we offered free estimates, but had a problem with people thinking we offered free coupons? We could use keyword match types to make sure free was okay, but free coupons is not by using match types! Broad match modified could work for us by using +free +coupons as a negative keyword. That would mean our ad would not be eligible if the query contained both the words free and coupons. If we happened to notice a lot of people were just typing in “free desk chair coupons” we could put that in as a phrase match or exact match keyword.
PRO TIP: next to the “negative keywords” button is the “search terms button”. Use that to see what people are typing in to see your ads to learn if your ads are showing up for terms you don’t want. Then use negative keywords to sculpt your traffic.
Using The Buyer Funnel To Manage PPC Cost
Now you should understand the basics of how to hyper target which queries your ads show for with keyword match types and negative keywords. We will close by explaining how you can manage cost/budget by understanding the buyer funnel and user intent.
What Is It?
The buyer funnel is something every single person goes through when they make a purchase. From beginning to finish it goes, Awareness, Interest, Shop, and Buy. A person becomes aware they have a problem, they become interested in learning more about it, they shop for a solution, and then they buy it. Believe it or not you go through this process every time you go to a vending machine. This is super basic. The power is in targeting specific keywords for PPC at specific parts of the buyer funnel in order to maximize your click through rate and conversion rate.
We won’t go too in-depth here as this article is just covering the basics of all this, but we will highlight the important things to know about how certain keywords relate to different sections of the buyer funnel.
Awareness and Interest
In the awareness and interest phase people are still learning about solutions to a problem they have. Or they are just learning about the problem they have in general. These are the types of queries which have informational intent. An example of this type of query would be something like, “back pain” or “sitting for too long”. You will want to answer these with blog posts and infographics that have calls to action that will lead them to your website. For example, we could write a blog post that talks about how our plastic desk chairs are designed to alleviate back pain. These keywords are not ones you typically spend a lot of money in AdWords with. You can better target these by writing blog posts and then pushing them to Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, then advertising them there. Social media advertising is much cheaper than AdWords and extremely targeted.
Shop and Buy
When users are in the shop and buy sections of the buyer funnel their queries have commercial intent. They have discovered the solution to their problem and they are looking for the right product to buy. Because they are more “ready to buy”, these terms will generally have a higher CPC.
PRO TIP: you can make your CPC go down by making sure you design keyword targeted ads and pay attention to your keywords Quality Score.
In this stage it is your job to convince the customer that you have the best product. Thus, this is where you will spend most of your money in PPC. It is imperative to understand this. The fastest way to allow your PPC costs to get out of control is by targeting keywords with the wrong types of user intent. Also, getting a bunch of clicks means nothing for your bottom line if nobody is converting. An example of a query with commercial intent would be something like “buy plastic desk chairs online” or “plastic desk chair prices”. A lot of advertisers will want to advertise for these types of keywords, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be competitive. Do your research, and make sure you are designing the highest possible level campaigns.
If you’d like to learn more about keywords for PPC and how to create amazing AdWords campaigns, check out this $35 PPC Course. It’s a great and affordable way to start your journey to becoming a professional online advertiser.
As always we hope you enjoyed this article, and feel free to leave any questions or general comments below.