The key to any successful PPC (pay-per-click) campaign is finding the best keywords to bid on that will result in the most clicks and conversions. Keyword research is not only about using the tools that are offered by your advertising platform but also understanding your audience and predicting what terms they are actually typing in the search bar. This is the only way you will be able to ensure that your ads show up in the right place at the right time. So how exactly do you go about picking key words for your PPC ad campaigns? Keep reading to learn about the necessary steps to take when picking your keywords.


Think about how customers will reach you and brainstorm a list of words that describe your business. It is important to keep this step as simple and as broad as possible because you will eventually build on it from there. Understand that different keywords will have different goals as they pertain to your overall marketing campaign. Remember to add your own brand as a keyword in your list.

Gain Inspiration From Competitors

Once you are pleased with your list of keywords, consider expanding on this list by analyzing your competition to see what words you’re missing out on. There are online databases that allow you to enter the domain of your competitors to see a list of words they have been recently bidding on. If you see any words that you think you could provide a better solution for than your competition, add it to your list.

Cover All Related Search Possibilities

After looking to your competition for inspiration, you should try to find words that cover all related search possibilities. For each keyword that you or your competitor has listed, there may be several other similar searches that you nor your competitor have thought of but may be worth bidding on. For example, HVAC may be the first keyword that comes to mind for your business. However, other related keywords that may be worth bidding on include heating contractor, HVAC maintenance and boiler systems.

Utilize one of the many keyword generator tools online that allow you to enter a keyword to see a list of all the possible related keyword searches that you may be ignoring. Google AdWords Keyword Generator is a great place to start.

Understand User Search Intent

Make sure that the keywords you choose address the search intent relevant to your marketing goals. Search intent can include but is not limited to:

  • Informational (looking for general information such as how large does the HVAC system in my house need to be?)
  • Commercial (including a brand in the search or the name of specific products)
  • Transactional (For example, keywords that include “where to buy___”)

If you sell a product or service, it may be more beneficial to identify with a strong set of keywords that target transactional intent.

Fine Tune Your Keyword List

The best way to fine tune your keyword list is by adding negative keywords. These are the search terms that you do not want your ads to show up for. Negative keywords are important because they help control costs and keep your ad targeting as relevant as possible. For example, if you have a home appliance company that sells washers and dryers, you may select hair dryer as a negative keyword since it is a term that is similar to your keywords but not exactly related to your business.

It is important to know that you will not find every keyword you should bid on or exclude during your first try. It is an ongoing process that requires you to conduct keyword research on a regular basis. As a matter of fact, many PPC platforms recommend that you spend at least 15% of your PPC campaign maintenance doing keyword research. Over time, you will consistently be adding new keywords, setting new negatives or experimenting with new match types. You will find that your campaigns are becoming more and more effective as you continue to tweak them regularly.

Read more about developing a digital ad strategy for your business in our guide on advertising. has all the resources to help you grow your business. From website’s that attract customers to proven advertising strategies and customer retention programs. We help your business shine and ensure that you enjoy your work and personal life.