ppc keyword researchIn Part 1 of this post dedicated to SEO keyword research, I spoke about discovering profitable SEO keywords with Google Keyword Planner. The post also includes a comparison of the old Google AdWords Tool to this new online service.

And, in Part 2 of “Doing Marketing Keyword Research with Google Keyword Planner”, I’d like to talk about how one can use the same online app – Google’s Keyword Planner – to get PPC keyword insights.

Before you start PPC keyword research

When you begin a PPC campaign from scratch, the first thing you’d need to do is to create a basic list of keywords (perhaps off the top of your head) that have to do with your online business. The initial list doesn’t have to be long – just a few dozen keywords would do.

For example, if you have a birthday balloons and gifts store, you might want to use keywords like:

birthday balloons

helium balloons

party balloons

birthday gift ideas, etc.

If you already have a website and you’ve previously done SEO keyword research for it, you may be able to get a few keywords ideas from it. You may also check what keywords people used to find your site in search in Google Analytics.

Defining your negative keywords

Another thing I’d like to mention upfront is negative keywords. Not knowing your negative keywords and not specifying them in a PPC campaign can lead to poor results. So, it’s something that’s good to decide on before you begin PPC keyword research.

What are negative keywords? For instance, if you sell bubble bath materials, bath oil and shower gels, you wouldn’t be interested in people who search for bathtub paint, because such visitors would be an ill target, and would only waste your AdWords dollar.

So, to prepare a list of such negative keywords, you could use (as per Andrew Goldberg):

  • Your brain
  • Your search query report
  • Google Analytics
  • Google suggest, etc.

Then, once you define the initial list of keywords and a list of negative keywords, it’s time to expand the former using the information provided by the Keyword Planner tool.

1. Getting PPC keyword suggestions

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  • Define your target audience:

– Choose your product category,

– Provide the country, city or region you target (this is a new feature in Keyword Planner)

– Specify the language groups you target

– Enter your negative keywords

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  • Specify search parameters

– Pre-set the minimum search volume for suggested keywords

– Set the minimum CPC (if you’d like to)

– Define the Ad impression share (the keyword’s potential to drive ad impressions)

– Specify desired competition for the suggested keywords

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  • Hit “Get ideas”

Further on, if you will need to change your initial list of keyword or to use other options in the Keyword Planner tool, simply press “Modify search” on the top right:

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2. Analyzing PPC keyword suggestions

Once you get suggestions for the initial keyword list you provided, you can view the suggested keywords in 2 modes: sorted by ad group and sorted by keyword:

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The next step would be to get more PPC insights on these keywords to decide which ones to include into your PPC campaign. For that, you’d need to do the following:

  • Add the suggested keywords to your plan.

There is a slow and a fast way to do it:

(1) add individual groups/keywords to your plan by clicking the arrow button at the end of the line;

(2) bulk-add your groups/keywords to your plan by pressing “Add all”.

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  • Click “Review estimates” to get PPC statistics on your keywords

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Even before you drill deeper into the keyword stats, right away you can see how many clicks a day you’re likely to get across your keywords and how much that would cost you. Just remember that these are average numbers based on historical data and should not be taken as precise estimates.

  • Enter your bid and get stats for the keywords in your list

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On the green graph, you can see how the number of “clicks per day” changes depending on your bid. You can also see how impressions and cost-per-day change depending on your bid by choosing them from the drop-down menu.

  • Sort your keywords by Impressions/Clicks

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In the table below the graph, you can see PPC data for each keyword in your groups. I normally sort keywords by Impressions/Clicks to see how much the most popular keywords would cost me. It’s not always the case that the most popular keyword would be the most expensive one. At the same time, certain popular keywords could be not-so-well targeted which brings us to the next point…

  • Pick keywords with the right searcher intent

In SEO, you don’t have to pay for poorly-targeted traffic, but in PPC you do. So, to make sure that you pay only for the keywords that drive targeted traffic, it’s important to weed out less relevant keywords at the final steps of your PPC keyword research.

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One of the ways to spot ill-targeted keywords is by common sense. For example, if I sell birthday balloons, perhaps “balloons” would be not my best keyword, because it’s too broad.

At the same time I might run a small broad match campaign for it to get an idea of what related keywords people search for, and how those keywords convert. ;)

  • Delete irrelevant keywords

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The final step of your PPC research would be to delete the keywords that are a bad match, and add the remaining keywords to use in an AdWords campaign by clicking “Save to account” in the top right corner.

More AdWords campaign ideas

One’s AdWords campaign is often part of their bigger marketing plan and an addition to one’s SEO strategy. So, how can one combine SEO and PPC research and tell when to target a keyword with SEO, PPC or both?

Some time ago, we’ve put together a guide to researching SEO and PPC opportunities with Rank Tracker, but what you can do essentially is this:

  • See which keywords competitors outrank you for in search, and buy PPC ads for them
  • See where a PPC campaign could complement your high search engine rank
  • Run a quick PPC ad to estimate conversion rates for the keywords you’ll use in SEO


To sum it up, there are quite a few things I like about how the new Keyword Planner it lets you do PPC keyword research. I like the fact that one can download data, and it’s also great that that you can now add both ad groups and separate keywords to the plan.

What about you: do you like the new PPC keyword research better? It would be nice to hear what you think in comments!

Image credit: swalwellj via iStockPhoto