Is there the best way to choose keywords for a PPC campaign?

Coming up with a keyword list is a pivotal part of any Google Ads campaign. While the right choice of keywords will help you reach your target audience and open new business opportunities, failing to choose keywords correctly can waste your budget and result in very little return on investment. But with so many factors to consider during this process, including keyword search volume, relevance, competition, match types, and similar – how can you ensure success for your business? In this blog post, we will discuss the best way to choose keywords for PPC campaigns. Experts from our PPC agency in Chicago will also provide some tips on how to avoid some of the common pitfalls that business owners often face when trying to target the right search terms.

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best ways to choose keywords for a PPC campaign

How can PPC improve your online presence?

A well-rounded PPC campaign can help you increase your reach and open new business opportunities. By managing to place your ads on the top of the search engine results page, you will expand your audience, and if you are targeting relevant keywords, traffic quality on your website will also increase. This type of advertising is easily measurable and gives you total control over your budget. With the right strategy, you can make your Google Ads campaigns bring high returns on investments.

Business owners often mistakenly believe they have to choose between running an SEO or PPC campaign, while there is no reason not to do both. Pay-per-click advertising can effectively complement your SEO efforts, as it can help you obtain traffic before your search engine optimization campaign starts paying off. But even if you already have the desired amount of organic traffic on your business website, running a Google Ads campaign can prove beneficial in specific scenarios. Such cases may include promoting your new products, increasing brand awareness, competing with large brands in your niche, and more.

The best ways to choose keywords for your PPC campaign

As we can see, pay-per-click advertising is a powerful way to improve your online presence and create new business opportunities. But there is a hook – you will only taste these benefits if you pay close attention when creating keyword lists in Google Ads. So let’s explore the best practices experts follow when choosing PPC keywords to ensure success:

Detailed research on your search terms

Before you start creating your keyword lists, you first need to polish your keyword research strategy. The first step is to review your web pages to better understand what keywords you are currently targeting. These keywords can usually be classified into four categories:

Branded terms

Keywords that are related to your or competitor’s branding. You must dominate your own branding terms across all of your PPC campaigns, especially if your brand is well-known. But bidding on keywords that contain a competitor’s brand name can also be a good idea. While you should avoid using these terms in your ad copy to avoid lawsuits, nothing prevents you from using them in your landing page copy. If you manage to rank just below your main competitor for their branded keywords, you might be able to get some of their customers on your website and make them try out your products or services.

High-intent terms

These are keywords that people use when they are at the final stages of their buying journey. Focusing on such keywords in your Google Ads campaign is generally a good idea because if your ads appear in search results pages after someone types in phrases such as “sale,” “free delivery,” “buy,” and similar – it is more likely that they will convert once they arrive on your website instead of just exploring it out of pure curiosity. 

Product or service terms

These include keywords directly related to the product or service you are offering on your landing page. When people use such terms, they probably want to learn more about your product before buying it. If you offer many similar products on your website, you can try inserting dynamic keywords in headlines to increase the relevance of your ads in search results pages.

Peripheral terms

These keywords are not directly related to your products, services, or branding but are broadly related to your business’s industry. You can increase brand awareness by targeting them but don’t expect to immediately make many sales.

After you identify search terms your website landing page(s) are currently targeting, clearly define your PPC campaign goals, so you can create a list of root keywords you want to rank for. Your root keywords need to be based on the products or services you want to sell. Then engage in comprehensive keyword research to find phrases closely related to your root keywords. Prepare your keyword research tool, such as Google Ads Keyword Planner, and do the following:

Brainstorm ideas

Put yourself in the ideal customer’s shoes and try to think about all the different ways your target audience might try to search for your products or services on Google. You can use the search console to brainstorm ideas, but don’t forget that Google Keyword Planner can suggest a wide range of keyword ideas after you type in the root keywords you want to rank for.

Check what keywords your competitors are targeting

Using your keyword tool to quickly scan which keywords your competitors are targeting with their ads is crucial, as it can show you a few extra phrases to pay attention to. It will allow you to see overlapping keywords within your industry and find gaps you can use to reach potential customers for less cost.

Add keywords to relevant Ad groups

Ad groups are a way of organizing your keywords into smaller, more manageable groups. Grouping relevant keywords together will make it easier for you to target your ads once you launch your campaign and improve your Google Ads account structure.

Adjust keyword match types

The best way to choose keywords for PPC campaigns is by finding the right balance between reach and relevance. Google Ads offers three keyword match types you can use to improve traffic quality: broad match, exact match, and phrase match. It is important to remember that each type has its advantages and disadvantages. Using a broad match might get you the most clicks and impressions, but it will also decrease the quality of the traffic on your website landing page(s) – however, you can use a broad match modifier for enhanced targeting. Broad match modifier gives you more control over placing your ads and better reach than phrase matching your keywords. With an exact match, you will drastically improve traffic quality, but you will also lose many potential customers who didn’t use the exact search phrase as the one you typed in. If you use phrase match, your ads still won’t appear in cases of misspellings or slightly different keywords, but they will show to users if your targeted keywords are just a part of a longer phrase they type in the search console.

Investing efforts into perfecting your keyword research strategy is essential to every successful PPC eCommerce management. It will help you better understand your target audience, competitor’s efforts, market demand, and more.

High vs. Low Search Volume Keywords

When putting up your keyword list, it is especially important to pay close attention to keyword search volume data. Using Google Keyword Planner, it is quite easy to identify the average monthly search volume keywords have. However, the question that troubles many PPC advertisers when setting up Google Ads campaigns is whether they should focus on low or high-search volume keywords. Let’s explore the pros and cons of both approaches:

High search volume keywords

Many businesses focus on the most popular search phrases in their PPC campaigns because there are many benefits to this. Obviously, if you manage to get your ads to appear on the search engine results page for high search volume keywords, a lot of people will likely see them. That means more clicks, sales, subscriptions, or other actions you want your potential customers to complete. However, keep in mind that keywords with high search volume are usually too broad, and targeting them can reduce the quality of the traffic – resulting in a reduction in conversion rates and diminished ROI. While this might be the best approach for businesses seeking to accomplish short-term goals and improve online visibility within their industry, it requires a larger budget as targeting high keyword search volume can be very expensive when done over long periods due to fierce competition. However, finding keywords with high search volume that not many other businesses are bidding for is like striking gold – it’s an opportunity you shouldn’t miss.

Low search volume keywords

Beginner PPC campaign managers often don’t pay enough attention to keywords with low average monthly search volume. However, experience has taught us that including those in your keyword list can prove beneficial in many ways. First, targeting low search volume keywords is less costly – as not many businesses tend to focus on them. Second, such keywords are usually much more specific than those with high search volume, therefore bringing more qualified traffic. They are a great choice for targeting an audience of a small niche. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t include every keyword with low search volume Google Ads Keyword Planner suggest. Instead, aim for keywords that are location specific, closely related to your niche, have high buying intent, etc. This approach can help you increase conversion rates on your website. 

Campaign spending and ROI

PPC campaigns can quickly become a money pit if you don’t choose keywords carefully. But before you even start using your keyword research tool, you need to clearly define the campaign goals and returns on investments you want it to generate. In a PPC campaign, businesses bid on keywords that they think potential customers will use when searching for their product or service. The business that bids the most on a particular keyword will have its ad show up first on the search engine results page. When a potential customer clicks on the ad, the business is charged a certain amount. However, if many people who click on your ad don’t complete the desired action on your website, your PPC campaign won’t generate any profit and will quickly become unsustainable.

The best way to choose keywords for PPC campaigns to make them profitable is to focus on those highly relevant to users’ search intents. To improve the relevance of your ads, you should also utilize Google Ads sitelinks. After your campaign is up and running, you need to track the performance of all the Google Ads search terms you are bidding on to obtain a detailed insight into which keywords are converting. That will allow you to adjust your keyword list and bidding strategy and maximize your PPC campaign ROI.

Average CPC

To make your PPC campaigns profitable, you should check the average CPC for each keyword you plan to target. Just because a keyword has a high search volume doesn’t necessarily mean that running ads is a smart idea. As many businesses within your industry compete for such keywords, bidding for them can prove very costly and lead to negative ROI. That’s why the best way to choose keywords for PPC is by finding the fine balance between keyword CPC and search volume. Ideal keywords are those that have a low level of competition and high search volume. It is pretty easy to check these metrics with most keyword tools.

Focus on long-tail keywords

For small businesses operating on a tight budget, the best way to choose keywords for PPC is by focusing on long-tail keywords. Please note that we are not saying you should avoid using short-tail keywords. The point is that long-tail keywords are usually much more specific than generic ones, so focusing on them can help you better meet users’ search intents and boost your conversion rates. And if you add product specifications such as colors, sizes, and geographical locations, you can 

Focusing on long-tail keywords will especially prove beneficial if you are on a tight budget, as they are usually less competitive than broad ones. 

Don’t Forget to Add Negative Keywords

To improve your Google Ads Quality Score, you should also add negative keywords to your PPC campaign arsenal. These are types of keywords that help you prevent your ads from showing for certain terms. For example, if you are exclusively selling shoes on your web landing page(s), it could be a good idea to add “socks” as a negative keyword. Also, negative keywords can help you exclude search terms that are similar but not entirely relevant for your line of business – and those queries that include phrases such as “free,” “cheap,” and similar. That can be a powerful way to avoid wasting your budget on irrelevant search terms and improve the quality of your traffic. But be careful because adding too many negative keywords can also prevent your ads from showing in relevant searches. Just like in all the other aspects of running a successful Google Ads campaign, finding the right balance is key here.

Get in touch

Do you need help with setting up your Google Ads account structure? Get in touch with our digital marketing agency, and our experienced PPC team will help you. During over a decade-long journey in various fields of advertising, Alpha Efficiency crafted advanced PPC methods we now use to help clients grow their businesses online and thrive in competitive industries. We’ll be glad to support you on each step of achieving your goals. You can start by scheduling a consultation call today!

Brian Djordjevic
About The Author

Brian Dordevic

Brian is Marketing Strategic Planner with a passion for all things digital. Feel free to follow him on Twitter or schedule a consultation call with him.

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