Ask A PPC Expert: Keywords

Keywords are the foundation of a paid search campaign, and a topic area we see many questions about. We’ve gathered previous questions we’ve received on keywords, and shared our answers for everyone to see. See our previous Ask a PPC Expert: Landing Pages.

If you have a question about keywords, leave a question in the comments and we’ll answer them.

Life raft by Flickr user Will deleting non-performing keywords really help my campaign? Why can’t I just leave the garbage in and focus on adding more, improved keywords?

Dan Navarro: Deleting non-performing keywords simply helps to save your budget from non-converting or performing clicks. A non-performing keyword might have only a few clicks which shows that traffic is low for that keyword, unless the bid price is too low and not allowing the word to be used. Focusing on performing keywords is a way to use real data and refine your campaign even further by changing ad copy, etc.

Brandon Hess: There are very few reasons to delete a keyword versus pausing a keyword when managing your PPC campaigns. While some keywords may not perform at the level you desire, often the performance of keywords are based on more than the match type or bid price you’re using. New ads, better optimized landing pages, advanced settings and other factors can improve a historically poor performing keyword. Pausing keywords allow you to return to poor performing keywords as low hanging fruit begins to stabilize (branded terms, etc) and track their improvements. Only focusing on what works out of the gate, while a short-term goal, puts all your eggs in one basket in the long-term. Pause keywords that don’t meet your success metrics over a specific timeline but always look to improve portions of your campaign that are poor performers.  Many PPC experts will move poor performing keywords into separate ad groups noted as “Low Performance” and pause / adjust settings to allow them to both notate troubled portions of a campaign, better organize their efforts and allow them to return to these areas once other areas of a campaign have been improved.

In my analytics reports, many of the clicks come from people who look for the exact name of the hotel, which appears at the top of the page anyway, so, is it a good idea to put the complete hotel name as a negative keyword so I can save on those clicks?

Brandon Hess:  Making your brand name a negative isn’t recommended. The question of whether or not an advertiser should bid for their branded name if they already own an organic listing is a very common question. The answer to this is whether or not the advertiser has heavy competition for their brand name by other competitors and if they feel it’s worth the cost (which is usually low given the quality score the brand owner will pay to bid on the name they own) to take a position away from their competitors. As well, there are stark differences in Organic and Paid advertising for search. Paid ads have the flexibility to adapt and serve timely and adjusted messaging at a much quick pace than Organic meaning that your competitors are likely advertising on your brand name with messaging meant to dissuade customers from using your hotel over theirs. Organic listings are less flexible.

Dan Navarro: No, absolutely not. The direct spelling of the hotel name is a very specific and targeted keyword, this is probably one of the best ways to leverage exact match keyword types. Usually brand or product specific keywords produce the most conversion even though the search traffic might be small, higher conversions. Removing very competitive or non-converting keywords would be a good place to look for keywords to remove.

What do you think when you’re doing keyword research and realize in the search results no one has bid on that keyword?

Brandon Hess: There are several reasons why this may happen. Does a trademark owner protect this keyword? Is this keyword low volume to where networks do not serve for it? Is this keyword a made-up word or brand name that is uncommon in the market you’re researching?

Would you say it’s better to target MORE keywords in PPC or LESS? That is to say, should we hit tons of keywords, or invest heavily in a more select few?

Peter Gent: Everyone has his or her own strategies to take. The best way to run your campaign (in my opinion) is to focus on both. If you have lots of keywords for cheap, they will be most likely be long-tail keywords. If you have the resources to build out this list extremely thoroughly, it’s possible you could get enough volume to be successful. If there isn’t enough volume or time to work on it, then  you should add some of the higher converting head-of-tail keywords to even out the volume. The way to go is to watch the data. Try both campaigns for a period on smaller levels and see which one produces more results. That’s how you’ll get to find out what the right strategy is for your campaign.

When you have found relevant and targeted keywords, what search volume ranges do you recommend?

Dan Navarro: At the very minimum a keyword must have at least 1,000 searches per month. Depending on the market/industry the numbers are much higher. One thousand searches per month is quite low.

Peter Gent: The answer is what’s acceptable to your business. In the hypothetical situation that you found keywords that converted 100% of the time, but only was clicked 1 time a month. That would still be a great keyword, because even though the volume is low, it’s a guaranteed sale. The search volume really depends on how many sales you want and how much you can scale up your paid search campaign. If you focus solely on lots of keywords with low search volume, you will generate low cost conversions, but you might not receive as many in a given period that you would like. To make up for low volume, you may need to expand your keyword list to some more broad terms that don’t have as high of a conversion rate to make up the volume that you need from your campaign.

What should I consider when buying competitor branded keywords?

Dan Navarro: Buying or Bidding on a competitors company or brand names is legal as long as the names or brands are not used in the ad copy. A competitors name or brand as a keyword is allows but Google does monitor any trademarked terms for abuse. Any complaints or disputes on trademarked keywords are not handled by Google and should be handled by the advertisers.

When setting up a new campaign, do you recommend I test all three match types for each and every keyword right from the start?

Dan Navarro: Yes, until enough data is collected to evaluate match type and keyword performance

Peter Gent: It’s always good to look at the pricing and results of the different match types. If you set up all three match types, then you can guarantee that you will get the best price possible based on the actual search term. Exact matches are great, because they help you control cost. What they don’t allow for is finding out more about variations of search terms to help build your negative keyword list.

How often, if ever, should you do an audit of your keywords to clean up (delete or pause) under-performing terms?

Dan Navarro: Daily, paid search marketing can move very quickly in traffic and spend. Managing a campaign daily will produce better results much more quickly. What tools/methods do you use to help find negative keywords before they appear in the search query report?

Peter Gent: A couple of easy and quick methods to find negative keywords require no extra money and just take a little bit of time before running your campaign. The first method is to type one of your search terms into Google. Look at the first 100 or so results and write down the website addresses that you know are different from you. Then, you can run their sites through the Google Keyword Tool. From here you can start compiling your list of words that you know are irrelevant to your business. Another method is to use your industry expertise and a thesaurus. As a business owner or the manager of a paid search campaign, it’s usually very easy to think of the main words that don’t fit your business.

That’s it for today’s installment of ask a paid search expert: keyword edition. Have a ridiculous question that needs asking? Ask below (if you’re brave). or email with all of your embarrassing and detailed paid search questions to be answered next week(she promises not to laugh).

One response to “Ask A PPC Expert: Keywords”

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    [...] fantastic blog content. Trada likes to group these questions together into blog posts called “Ask a PPC Expert.” We know that our webinar attendees aren’t the only ones asking these questions, plus, we know [...]

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