Everything I know About Keywords for AdWords Search

everything I know about keywords

I choose the keyword topic this week thinking it would be a really easy one for me to write about. My wife and I just had our first baby girl (Reagan) and I wanted an easy topic for today’s hangout.

Sadly…. I said I would talk about everything I knew about keywords which honestly is a really big subject matter. What I’m going to do is quickly go over all the major fine points around keywords and how I personally work my own campaigns.

Here is the Hangout video for this week. We do live hangouts every Wednesday at 2PM CST. Join our Newsletter and Facebook page and private group to get the invite.

All questions can be asked live via twitter @mktgplaybook

Keywords The Foundation of All Campaigns on Search

Keywords are the foundation of all campaigns on AdWords Search. Knowing what keywords work and what ones won’t work cannot be known till you start testing.

The biggest fight I seem to have when consulting for a small business and putting together a list of keywords is the Owners saying something like “I’ve been in this business for 20 years. I know what my customers are searching for”.

This kind of statement really isn’t valid for a multiple reasons. One of the biggest reasons is competition. I for instance might be able to get a car mechanic in Hugo MN profitable with bidding on the broad keyword of TRANSMITION but in St Paul MN just a dozen miles south the bid price for this keyword might be too high and not convert the same. For St Paul they may have fare far better bidding really high on the keyword “TRANSMITION REPAIR”.

The same goes for things like “Oil Change” or “Pediatric Dentist”. In some places the bid makes sense and you can go after it while in others the cost per customer acquisition is just too high.

My point here is you need to build up and gather as many keywords and phrases as possible and then try all that make sense. Over the course of time you will be able to optimize and weed out keywords that don’t generate any leads.

Keyword Grouping

This can take a long time to do and do write. The purpose of keyword grouping is so you can write a very specific ad for the keyword you are bidding on.

Let’s look at some past examples I have done for grouping keywords


Brake Repair
brake service
car brakes
brake pad replacement
brake replacement
brake service cost
brake shop

Oil Change:

oil change coupons
oil change near me
express oil change
synthetic oil change
quick oil change
cheap oil change
express lube

Here I have break related keywords grouped together and Oil Change related keywords grouped together. I could technically just have all my Brake related keywords in 1 adgroup and the Oil Change keywords in another adgroup.

The down side is you want your ad copy to speak directly to the keyword you are bidding on. While you will be really close with your ad and it will be break repair related it won’t be 100% specific.

What I do is break each and every keyword into it’s own adgroup and write a very specific ad for that keyword and use that keyword once in the title and once in the description then have some sort of call to action.

With Breaks by adgroup and keywords will be

Adgroup Name Brake Repair : keyword = brake repair
Adgroup Name brake service : keyword = brake service
Adgroup Name car brakes : keyword = car brakes
Adgroup Name brake pad replacement : keyword = brake pad replacement
Adgroup Name brake replacement : keyword = brake replacement
Adgroup Name brake service cost : keyword = brake service cost
Adgroup Name brake shop : keyword = brake shop

Keyword Match Types

I normally have 2 different match types I use.   They are EXACT and BROAD MATCH MODIFIED or BMM for short.

Exact keywords: Exact keywords will trigger your ad when a user closely matches the intent of the users search. You exact keyword BRAKE SERVICE for example may trigger when someone does a search for service breaks (Notice the misspelling) , brake services and other highly related keywords.

Exact keywords are wrapped in [ ] brackets like [brake service]

BMM: BMM is similar to broad bidding. BMM however tells Google that the search should contain these keywords or very similar in nature to the keywords you are bidding on.

If I bid on BRAKE SERVICE for instance your ad may trigger when someone does a search for Brake Services near me, brake services in St Paul, Cheap Brake Services, Fast Brake Service

BMM Keywords have a + sign in front of each keyword. An example of this would be

+brake +service

+car + brakes

Using BMM over broad keywords has the advantage of being able to better align your products or services with the users intent. If you bid on just BRAKE SERVICE with no modifiers then you could potentially show for very unrelated searches.

The other two match types are Phrase and Broad

Phrase is not used nearly as much as in the past because Google expanded how Exact keywords work. They got smart enough to kind of tell what keywords match what user intent so it’s not nearly as valuable as it once was.

Phrase keywords are wrapped in quotes ” ” An example would be “brake Service” We are now telling AdWords to show our ad when a user search for either brake service or service brakes. This really isn’t all that valid as we already have this covered by bidding with the BMM modifier.

Broad keywords are just that broad. If you bid on the keyword candy you could potentially show when someone searches chocolate. You will notice Google showing your ad for all kinds of unrelated keywords where it’s clear the user has zero intention of making a purchase.

For more information see https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/2497836?hl=en

When to Use Broad Keywords?

While I don’t use phrase as much I do still use broad keywords. Generally I will use them when trying to get more volume on search campaigns and discover more keywords.

Let’s say I build a campaign for this auto repair shop and I have my BRAKEs related campaign doing well and making money but the volume is really low and only 10 clicks a day are coming in. From that I may have 1-2 sales but I need more.

What you can do is just bid on the broad keyword BRAKES and then start to add in lot’s of negative keywords starting off and as new search terms come in. More on this in a second.

The idea here when using Broad keywords is to flush out more keywords to create more adgroups around and specific ads for those keywords. If they really closely match the same user intent for an existing adgroup then I will move that keyword into that adgroup and bid on it using EXACT and BMM.

If you don’t have a lot of time to initially build out your campaigns and don’t mind losing some money in the beginning then going with just broad keywords isn’t a bad idea as long as the intention for doing so is to break out those keywords with search volume into their own campaigns.

Negative Keywords

Most small businesses who have never used AdWords before think they will just start adverting and they will be profitable. The truth is this almost never works out.

It’s very common to lose money and not be profitable starting out. This comes back to my argument earlier how in some markets keywords just won’t work for you because competition may be too high.

Luckily AdWords now makes it really easy to see the exact search terms being used.

Inside your campaign you can click on the Keywords Tab. There you will find the “Search Terms” tab.

Adwords search terms negative-2

I would recommend you also show the Match Type and the Keyword and adgroup that triggered that search term.

To add in the keyword that triggered the ad you need to select Attributes from then click on the arrow for Keyword to ad it into your reporting.


You can also move around the important information you want to see up so it’s easier to tell.

I would also ad in conversions and Cost / Conversions into the report so you can see what is making you money and what is not.

The Search Terms are the exact keywords that people are searching for and will show you the keyword that triggered the ad. If the keyword is already present or excluded then it will show in the Added / Excluded Column as well.

If the keyword does not say Added then you may want to add that exact keyword into a new or existing adgroup.

The biggest advantage of seeing the exact search terms being done is to find those negative keywords.

If you recall I mentioned bidding broad on BRAKES. If we did this we would most likely see people searching for things like “Bicycle brakes” or “DIY brake repair”. Both bicycle and DYI (Do it yourself) keywords probably won’t result in leads to your auto repair shop so you would want to take these kind of keywords and add them to your negative keyword list.

Where to Place Negative Keywords

Next to the search terms tab is the Negative Keywords Tab

add negative keywords

You can ad negative keywords on a adgroup or campaign level. In most cases I tend to add negatives to the campaign level.

Simply hit the red +Keywords button under Campaign Level and add in your negative keywords. negative-2

Negative Keyword Match types

You have 3 different match types for negative keywords. Exact, Phrase and Broad.

We covered these above already and they work very similar on the negative side of things with one main exception.

When you negative out an exact keyword it does not negative out the plural keyword. So if someone search for BICYCLE BRAKES and we add the negative exact match keyword of [BICYCLE BRAKES] in then we can still show for BICYCLE BRAKE. You need to add in both singular and plural.

Phrase negatives and broad negatives work the exact same.

In our break example we found the keyword BICYLE BRAKES. We could just add in the broad keyword BICYCLE and call it good. By entering in the keyword with no modifiers it will be broad and any search terms with that keyword will be excluded.

Generally I like to add in these kinds of broad level keywords and will only add in the exact keywords when I’ve proven that that specific exact keyword does not make money.

An example of this might be the keyword TRANSMISSION and TRANSMISSION REPAIR. Let’s say I’m making really good money off of TRANSMISSION REPAIR but the exact search term TRANSMISSION is not making me money. I can add this as an exact negative just to stop that exact search phrase from being done. This would look like [transmission].

So my current negative keywords would be



I have the exact keyword and broad keyword there.

For more information see https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/2453972

Quick Tip on Negative Keywords

I see many accounts negative out keywords early on without any testing being done. There are clear times such as bicycle brakes when that is fine as you being an auto repair shop do not service bicycle brakes. However I see people negative out keywords like “cheap” and “how to” which can actually convert very well. I recommend always testing the keywords and spending enough money on them before you just out right negative them out.

How Much Money Should I Spend on Each Keyword Before I Pause It?

To determine this you need to have some kind of trafficking setup so you can assign a value.  There are multiple ways of doing this but there needs to be some kind of qualifier to count conversions or you will never know what is converting.

You will also need to know the life time value of your customer and what you can afford to pay to acquire a new customer.  If for instance the life time value of a customer is $1000 dollars and you can recoup at least $100 dollars net in the first 6 months then most likely a good CPA goal would be $100 dollars.

You can break this down by leads as well.  Using the above example lets say you land 1 in 5 calls.  You have a 20% close rate.  If you can recoup that $100 dollars in 6 months and land 20% of your customers then your CPL goal would be $20.  So if you start spending more then 1.5x the lead payout you may want to pause that keyword.  This would but you around $30 dollars per keyword.

Keep in mind that starting out you may be using BMM keywords.  This can lead to lot’s of negative keywords starting out so you may just need to spend more initially for the first month till you work through more negative keywords and then apply the 1.5X rule of thumb.

What Should My Starting Bid Be?

What AdWords suggest you bid can be WAY off at times and other times spot on.  Generally I like to do 20% over what they suggest if the keyword is exact and walk down the bids over time.  What I want is to be in that number 1 or 2 position to get that great CTR and you will start to be rewarded with a higher QS and start to get a discount in just a few weeks.

What Position Should my Ad Be in the Search Results?

Each and every market is different.  You ideally want to be between 1 and 2 but nothing wrong with being in that 3rd or 4th spot if the price is too high.  The higher you rank the better generally your CTR will be.  You can always set your daily budget so you don’t over spend starting out.

More tips on Keywords

You can use a free tool like http://www.adwordswrapper.com/ that auto wraps your keywords into Exact, Phrase, BMM and Broad keywords automatically. This can be a nice time saver

I personally use Speed PPC to build out my Adgroups and Ads based off of keywords which gives me the options of wrapping keywords with modifiers which is really nice. From there I import into Adwords Editor and go to town re-writing ads.

The AdWords Keywords tool and Bingads Keywords tools are great for discovering keywords to bid on. You can also outsource this to someone on Fiverr for example for really cheap.

Fiverr is also a good place to go to have someone do negative keywords research for you if you are going to bid broad off the bat.

Next Week

I think it might be time to switch modes and go more into Facebook and talk about social marketing from a small businesses point of view.  I do still want to talk about Google Analytics, Google tracking and Google Tags.  If you have input on what you want to talk about join the FB group or the newsletter and let me know.

I’m also open to guest speakers so if you have something very beneficial to small businesses I’d love to have you on a live hangout.

The post Everything I know About Keywords for AdWords Search appeared first on MarketingPlayBook.co

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