How To Do PPC Keyword Research In 2024? (Tools Listed)

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PPC, as in pay-per-click, is one of the effective online advertising models used by most digital marketers, brands, and eCommerce merchants. Advertisers set up PPC ads so their products or content can reach their target audience.

Setting up a PPC campaign isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. You need to find the right keywords to bid to target your potential audience in a marketplace. What’s good in bidding unnecessary keywords when your audience can’t find your product? That’s why keyword research is of the essence!

If you are thinking about creating a PPC funnel or setting up PPC ads, you need to do proper keyword research for your product. This is more challenging than it sounds. But having the right tools in your possession and a little guidance will help you optimize your keyword research strategy. 

In this post, I will help you with a “PPC Research Guide” guide. I have included all the important points you need to focus on while bidding on a keyword. After all, it is your hard-earned. 

Let’s get started.

9+ Things To Focus On For PPC Keyword Research

Here are a few things you can consider keeping in your mind while conducting keyword research. 

1. Focus On Long-tail Keywords

People used to aim for short keywords or seed keywords to create ad campaigns for a very long time. But now, buyers and visitors have become very specific with their search intent. So nowadays, giving priority to long-tail keywords benefits advertisers. Long-tail keywords have two significant advantages.

PPC Keyword Research - Focus On Long

The first benefit is the user’s specific intent. Users will quickly find your ad at the top when their search queries match your long-tail keywords. The second advantage is that long-tail keywords usually have less competition compared to short keywords.

2. Use High-Volume Keywords Wisely

If you own a brand and want to expose it to a much larger audience, targeting high-volume keywords would be a smart choice. Bidding on keywords with high search volume puts your product at the top, and if visitors are interested in your product, they will immediately buy it. However, investing in high-volume keywords also comes with a few significant disadvantages.

The fact is not everyone searches on the internet with buying intent. And if your goal is only selling a specific product, bidding on a high-volume keyword can cost you a lot of money. When you bid on a specific high-volume keyword, your product is more likely to appear on top. That means your ad will get higher clicks without any purchases. This situation will only increase ad costs and costs per click. And you don’t want to pay for a PPC for nothing.

On the other hand, if your goal is to get maximum clicks, you can bid on high-volume keywords without a second thought. Usually, brands and new companies who are looking for visibility and attention bid on such keywords.

3. Optimize Your PPC For Voice Search

In this digital era, tech-savvy people and Gen-Zers prefer voice search over traditional typing search. Apart from typical web browsers, people use AI assistance to conduct voice searches on Google. So optimizing voice search can bring fruitful results.

Think as a user. Why would you use voice search in the first place? Obviously, to search long keywords. You can instantly search “medicine for headache” term on Google by typing. But if you want to search “where I can find medical stores in Arkansas?” you will probably be using voice typing. In that case, consider targeting long-tail keywords relevant to your business so people can easily find you at the top of the search results.

4. Spy on Your Competitors 

Replicating competitors’ actions is not considered a good strategy in SEO terms. But sometimes, spying on competitors’ keywords is the easiest way to find relevant keywords. If a keyword is helping a competitor rank better, it will likely rank for you as well since both doing business in the same category. This strategy can also help you outrank your competitor.

However, you need to find a better tool for competitor analysis. Without such tools, analyzing your competitors’ movement would be hard. You can use tools like Ubersuggest and SpyFu for competitor analysis.

5. Include Keyword Synonyms And Variations

Once you find a relevant keyword or phrase for your business, you need to create a keyword list to bid on. Don’t just blindly invent a single keyword. Instead, use synonyms and variations to bid in small chunks. If your main keyword is “dog foods,” then you can also bid on “dog treats.” The same goes for phrases. For example, “pet clinic near me” and “veterinarians in my area” are both searched for the same intent. You can find such synonyms and variations at the bottom of SERP on Google.

6. Target Negative Keywords

Finding negative keywords is as important as finding targeting keywords for PPC. You don’t want your PPC ads to appear at the top of the SERP on every second keyword related to your product. Negative keywords can be anything, such as a single keyword or something that matches bidding keywords. Suppose you are advertising “iPhone 13” with your PPC campaign. If someone searches “refurbished iPhone 13”, it might appear at the top of SERP, and that would not be useful for that person at all. In that case, “refurbished” is your negative keyword.

 Target Negative Keywords

You can use Google Ads to find such negative keywords. Target those keywords, so your PPC campaign never appears when someone uses those keywords.

7. Create An Intent-Driven PPC Ad Group

According to SEO experts, bidding on a couple of main keywords doesn’t always work. It might get necessary traffic or click, but you can increase the numbers by targeting an ad group with a bunch of keywords. Basically, a PPC ad group is a set of organized keywords that you can create after keyword research.

You create a group of 8-10 keywords and set up a campaign of three ads for this group to target the audience. Those keywords will align with your ads and will appear together if it is relevant. However, it will keep the search intent as your top priority.

8. Find A Balance Between Search Volume And Competition

While doing keyword research, it is possible to come across competitive keywords. And if your goal is to reach more people, you might be looking for a keyword with a high search volume. These types of keywords tend to have more competition than usual which creates a hard time for advertisers to bid on.

On the other hand, longer keywords don’t have much competition, nor are they good for traffic. So you need to find a middle way to avoid such situations. You can do that by selecting a keyword with balanced competition and search volume. This way, you will avoid heavy competition and will get significant traffic at the same time.

9. Use an Effective Keyword Research Tool

Keyword research for PPC is a real-time process so having a resourceful tool is absolutely necessary. Without a keyword research tool, finding the right keywords for bidding would be almost impossible. Fortunately, there are tons of keyword research tools available on the internet that you can use to find historical data of searched terms and keywords. You can start with the free tools. If you are not getting satisfactory results, you can look for a paid tool. The goal is to find the best keywords, so use reliable ones. 

Best Tools For Keyword Research

Here are some keyword research tool (free and paid) recommendations for PPC advertisers.

Top 3+ Free Keyword Research Tools

  1. Google Keyword Planner: This is one of the most used keyword research tools on the internet. Google Keyword Planner is 100% free to use, and it offers significant keyword terms for advertisers and SEO marketers. It goes well with Google Ads.
  2. Google Autocomplete: Google Autocomplete is not a specific keyword research tool, but it provides decent search predictions. It usually appears on the search bar when you try to search for something. It starts predicting keywords as soon as you start typing in the search box.
  3. Ubersuggest: Ubersuggest is a premium SEO tool suite that offers a free keyword research tool to its users. Apart from keyword ideas, it also helps you optimize your content strategy.

Top 3+ Paid Keyword Research Tools

  1. Ahrefs: Ahrefs is a well-known name in the SEO industry. It is considered one of the best tools for all SEO practices, which is why top digital marketers and SEO experts recommend this tool. With this tool, you can search any type of keyword with absolute accuracy.
  2. Semrush: Semrush is an all-in-one tool for all types of SEO practices, such as keyword research, competitor analysis, website audit, backlinking, etc. If you want accuracy, results, and growth, Semrush can be your go-to tool.
  3. SpyFu: SpyFu is a complete keyword research tool that is used by many digital marketers and eCommerce store owners. If you want an affordable SEO tool with exceptional features and accuracy, SpyFu is worth a try.

How to Conduct Keyword Research for A PPC Campaign?

Now you have understood the basics of PPC keyword research, it is time to apply it in real time. Let’s see how you can do proper keyword research to find the best keywords to bid for your product or content.

Step 1. Set Up Your PPC Campaign Goals

Before searching a single term or keyword, you must establish your campaign goals. What is making you do keyword research? Is it click or conversion? First, you must be sure of these terms.

Your objective defines your potential audiences’ search intent. Put yourself in your visitor’s shoes and think like a customer. When your visitors’ intent and your objective align, you will find the fundamental keyword.

Suppose you are a seller selling shoes on an eCommerce platform, and your main product is leather boots. If a buyer wants to buy leather boots, what typical keywords would he be using to search on that particular eCommerce platform? It can be “Leather boots for men” or “Leather boots under $100”. When visitors’ intent and keywords match, your PPC ad will appear at the top of the search results.

Your primary keywords should match the visitor’s intent and what service you have to offer. Everybody gets what they want when you both are on the same page.

Step 2. Find Out Keywords With A Reliable Tool

Your campaign goal doesn’t decide your bidding keywords. It is basic guesswork that you do find seed keywords. Don’t finalize your keywords based on seed keywords until you actually see the data. Here you need a keyword research tool to find a keyword list.

You can start with free tools like Google Keyword Planner. All you have to do is copy the URL of your website or use a seed keyword, and Google Keyword Planner will come up with tons of keyword suggestions along with their search volume and keyword difficulty. 

Step 3. Study Keyword Metrics

Before you start bidding on a keyword, you need to study all the metrics that appear with keywords. You will immediately understand what keywords to avoid, even if they appear at the top of the list. Because if they are not relevant to your business, they will be too useless to bid on.

Now, let’s come to the relevant results. Pick the top 10 related keywords and compare three key metrics to select the best keyword for your PPC campaign.

  • Monthly Search Volume: Each keyword appears with a significant search volume. Check out the high-volume keywords if you want to increase your brand’s visibility. Otherwise, consider looking for less competitive keywords. 
  • Keyword Difficulty (SEO Difficulty): Keyword Difficulty or SEO Difficulty will help you understand how competitive a keyword is in your niche. The higher the search volume, the more competitive the keyword will be.
  • CPC: The most important factor in keyword research is CPC (cost per click). It is the cost you will be paying when someone clicks on your PPC campaign after searching your bidding keywords. According to SEO experts, keywords with a high CPC are considered best for a PPC campaign, but obviously, it will cost you more. 

After studying all the keywords, try to pick a keyword with balanced metrics. It will be budget-friendly, high-volume, and it will be less competitive. 

Step 4. Check The Performance Of The Keywords

Before you start racking keywords for your PPC ad group, you need to check how well they are performing in the market. The best way to do that is through competitor analysis. 

You can use a competitor analysis tool to check how well your selected keywords are performing for your competitors. Ahref’s Keyword Planner tool is mostly used for this sole cause. It is a costly but the most accurate tool SEO experts use to conduct quick analysis. 

Regardless of what tool you use, copy the URLs of your competitors and filter out their brand names. You will squeeze out your competitors’ bidding keywords within a few seconds. 

Step 5. Use Your Data To Bid On Keywords

Once you have keywords with balanced metrics, you can start the bidding process. When you head over to Google Ads (previously known as Google AdWords), you will find three keyword match settings:

  • Broad Match: When you use this matching option, your ads will appear on queries related to your keywords. 
  • Phrase Match: With this option, your PPC ads will appear for searches with the same meaning or phrases. 
  • Exact Match: With this option, your PPC ads will only appear for the exact keywords. 

Once you select a matching option for keyword bidding, your PPC campaign will be up and ready for your website or eCommerce stores.

5 Proven Tips to Improve the Performance of Your PPC Campaigns

Once you are done with your keyword research, you will start bidding on those keywords for your PPC campaigns. If you want to control your spending and optimize your PPC campaigns, here are some cool tips that you can follow:

1. Consider Including Negative Keywords

Just like you discover keywords and relevant search terms for your PPC campaigns, there are some keywords that you may want to omit from your ad campaigns. These are negative keywords that induce your PPC platform or software to avoid placing advertisements on SERPs when users enter these keywords or search terms.

In simple words, when you include negative keywords in your ad campaigns, the platform will prevent your ads from being displayed to people who are unlikely to purchase your product or service. This way, you can save money on clicks and increase the conversion rate. 

2. Get Full Control Over Your PPC Campaign using Iceberg Effect

The Iceberg Effect takes place in your ad campaigns when your keywords target more phrases and search terms than the relevant ones. As a result, it brings more irrelevant visitors to your ads, and your pay unnecessarily for the clicks. It can be challenging to lower your average CPC when your search-to-keyword ratio is too damn high.

Your goal is to reduce these numbers and keep it to the ideal 1:1. This is where an A/B testing (split testing) tool can help you take control of this situation. The tool helps you test how certain keywords can perform for your ad campaigns. You can also identify areas where you can make improvements, such as changing your target and adjusting your bidding strategy. 

3. Evaluate Your Visitors’ Intent through CTA Temperature Scale

Not every PPC visitor lands on your website with a buying intent. Usually, visitors that come from social media or other displays tend to be cold. Meanwhile, those that come from search terms tend to be warm. This is how CTA’s temperature scale is measured. 

Visitors on a colder scale mostly look for coupons, swipe files, checklists, or statistics, while warmer ones look for quotations, trials, and consultation, and those with the strongest intent go for direct purchase. That means traffic from search terms responds to warmer CTAs and vice versa. 

4. Keep an Eye on Sales Conversion Rate

Measuring your sales conversion rate is essential for tracking the success of your ad campaigns. By monitoring your sales conversion, you can figure out the visitors that visit your website actually buy your product. This information can help you figure out whether your keywords or search terms are working. 

5. Break Down Your Larger Conversion using Micro PPC Conversions

A micro-conversion is the series of actions taken by a website visitor that specify that they are going to make a purchase. However, it is considered a complete conversion unless they complete the checkout, but it can lead to larger conversions. 

To ensure a visitor becomes a customer, you need to track micro-conversion activities such as downloading a whitepaper or signing up for a newsletter. This way, you can understand how your PPC campaigns are influencing visitors’ behavior and how you can optimize them to drive more sales. 

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Conclusion: How To Do PPC Keyword Research (2024)

Everybody wants to set up a successful PPC campaign hoping for the best ROIs (return on investments). In order to do that, you need to outplay your competitors by doing planned keyword research. Each keyword performs differently for everyone because there’s always a human factor. If a keyword is performing well for your competitor, that doesn’t mean it will perform well for you too. 

You can’t just pick a keyword from a competitor and blindly bid on it. A specific keyword also depends on the product and location. So try to look for keywords within your region and marketplace so local people can easily find your venture. 

You can create a successful PPC funnel using the guide mentioned above and keeping proven tips in your mind. It will not only boost your conversions but also increases traffic and monthly visits.

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