How to Do Keyword Research in AdWords

One thing I don’t spend huge amount of time on prior to setting up AdWords campaigns, which probably goes against everything you read, is too extensive keyword research.

Wait! Don’t shoot!

Let me explain …

Importance of keyword research in digital marketing strategy is something I rarely hear anyone argue against. Whereas in reality, in my experience, very few AdWords managers ever do it (even the good ones!). Not because they are lazy but because picking ‘the best’ keywords isn’t as important in AdWords as some might think.

In SEO keyword research is very important because its critical to pick the best FEW keywords that you will spend all your energy and time on, over the next XYZ months/years. You are looking for targeted, commercial keywords with a perfect balance between the volume of competition <> impressions. You need keywords that you stand a chance to rank for and that have decent volume of searches.

In Google AdWords on the other hand, you aren’t limited to choosing just a few keywords to focus on. You can have hundreds. You can add them today and remove them tomorrow. There is no long-term commitment to your chosen few keywords in AdWords campaigns, unlike in SEO.  You can start advertising and then a week into your campaign, after you have live data, you can pick the REAL winners, instead of trying to guess that ahead of time

Focus on selecting best Ad Groups instead

One thing more important than choosing right keywords in Google AdWords, is choosing the right AD GROUPS.

Think of AdGroups as categories (and sub-categories) of products & services you want to sell.

The deciding factor in choosing which AdGroups to use will be based on which services you want to generate more business for and not what’s cheaper or less competitive on Gooogle. If you make ‘wool carpets’ then your adgroup should be ‘wool carpets’, even if ‘synthetic carpets’ and ‘vinil’ are a cheaper and less competitive keywords.

Which products you want to get most work for?

Choose the ones that are most valuable to you and have the highest profit margins. If you are on a small budget you might not have enough money to promote all your available services/products, you need to select wisely.

Your landing pages do not need to be designed for specific keyword, they need to be targeting specific SET of keywoords (adgroups)

Example of Keywords:
manuka honey
manuka honey nz
order manuka honey
buy manuka honey

Example of Categories (AdGroups)
manuka honey
manuka lip balm
manuka face creams

Best practice is to have a specific landing page for each of your categories.

Keywords you can remove/add once you have live data but AdGroups are the basis of your landing pages (which might not be as easy to change later). They are the basis of all your ad copy.

They are the KEY you should focus on.

Focus on what you don’t want – Negative Keywords

Think about the keywords that could trigger your ad but that indicate buyers intentions aren’t commercial. Things like: learn, how to, jobs, study, career, apprenticeships, ideas etc. Its important to exclude these search queries to avoid wasting budget.

This you need to do right at the start when setting up your campaign.

You also need to keep refining and weeding-out unwanted queries as your campaign progresses. This involves going through the Search Queries Report on a regular basis and looking for terms that indicate non-commercial intent or off topic searches.

Then add all these to your negative keywords from your Search Terms Report directly.


See how I can help your business start generating leads and sales using Google AdWords, as early as next week!


Author: Natasha Popovich

I have been in Digital Marketing since 2003. My focus over the past decade has been Google AdWords, Analytics and Conversion Rate Optimization. I spent in access of $30m on Google and worked with companies of all sizes in NZ, AU, Asia & Europe, directly and through advertising agencies. I now provide consulting services to agencies and businesses directly.

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