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PPC Keyword Research: Tips from Seasoned Marketers

Effective keyword research is one of the foundations of a profitable PPC campaign.

Despite the myriad keyword research tools out there, many marketers struggle to find lucrative keyword opportunities that will maximize returns.

Of course, nothing about digital marketing is meant to be easy. It’s a rugged path full of roadblocks that you must overcome in order to grow.

That’s why the best approach is always to lean on the wisdom of proven experts who’ve already bested these challenges.

When it comes to PPC marketing, here is some timeless advice that every marketer should live by:

“Know your budget and work backward.” - Neil Patel

If you don’t know Neil Patel and still consider yourself a marketer, then you’re probably missing out on opportunities to do things much better.

Neil is easily one of the top three marketers you need to follow if you want to be competitive in this business. And according to him, you need to crunch the numbers and work out your max cost per click or CPC when doing keyword research.

“You should have a max cost you’re willing to pay for any given keyword to avoid overspending on advertising,” says Neil in this post on PPC campaigns. “This is determined and set by you based on your conversion rates, the amount of profit you make from each conversion, and your estimated profit margins from advertising.”

A tool like Google Analytics will enable you to measure your website’s conversion rate. Once obtained, you need to plug it into the following formula:

Max CPC = (Profit Per Conversion) * (1 - Profit Margin) * (Conversion Rate)

A max CPC makes sure you never go overboard when it comes to your PPC budget.

For example, if your website earns $100 per customer, a profit margin of 15% and a 3% conversion rate on your website, then your max CPC will be:

(100) * (1-0.15) * (0.03)

= 2.55

When using a tool like Ubersuggest, only go for keywords with an average CPC that’s less than or equal to your max CPC. Fortunately, the streamlined interface makes crucial keyword metrics very easy to find.

PPC Ubersuggest

“Utilize Google’s Autocomplete.” - Joe Martinez

When doing online research, a handful of users click on Google’s Autocomplete suggestions for many reasons.

They may be unsure how a certain term is spelled. In some cases, they could simply be interested in what like-minded individuals would search for regarding a specific topic.

For PPC expert Joe Martinez, Autocomplete is a great tool for spotting keyword ideas that get search traffic.

“Looking for keyword variations beyond the client’s help can be challenging,” says Martinez. “Using autocomplete results has allowed me to find ideas for new keywords and ad group breakout ideas.”

The main advantage of using Autocomplete is that the suggestions reflect what actual users search for on Google. These search phrases can be used as seed keywords in your next keyword research.

More importantly, Autocomplete suggestions will also let you identify content gaps in your niche, which you can fill with fresh and insightful content. This, in turn, can help position your brand as an authoritative information provider.

google keywords

“Site Search. It’s right in front of you.” - Brandon Holm

So often, we as digital marketing experts utilize fancy tools to generate thousands of keywords when building our PPC & SEO strategies. But what if I told you the answers were right in front of you?

As Room 214’s Brandon Holm will tell you, “Say hello to site search.” Yes, that search box at the top of your website is one of the most underutilized tools when generating keyword lists. It’s also incredibly valuable in understanding how people interact with your brand.

How do you enable site search? If you don't currently utilize Google Analytics, you'll need to create an account and place the tag on all the pages of your website. Once you have that installed you can follow these easy steps to enable site search.

site search

“Don’t rely solely on long-tail keywords.” - Kathryn Drury

If there’s one piece of advice you can find in every keyword research guide ever conceived, it’s to avoid focusing on broad terms.

In addition to drawing in the wrong audience, broad and unspecific keywords are also usually highly competitive. As a result, marketers are often told to shoot for long-tail keywords that contain three or more terms.

Put simply, long-tail keywords target a narrower audience and are usually less competitive than their seed keyword counterparts. These make them more feasible for small brands when it comes to PPC or SEO.

Unfortunately, a lot of marketers get the wrong idea and abandon all broad keyword keywords altogether — regardless of how relevant they are. This is a mistake since broad keywords can be refined into more profitable keyword opportunities with the right tools.

“If you plan to start a PPC campaign, then the use of broad keywords can sometimes produce valuable keyword data that you might not have discovered otherwise,” says Kathryn Drury of QliQ.

A keyword tool like Ubersuggest, for example, works by expanding seed keywords into hundreds of long-tail keyword suggestions in one go.

“Remember, start broad and refine from there,” says Drury on keyword research. “Not the other way around!”

keyword ideas

“Let ‘em ride.” - Brad Smith

At the end of the day, you should never enter the world of marketing if you’re not prepared for failures.

Sure, monetary losses can be frightening, but you can always make the cash back once you’ve fine-tuned your strategy. What you can’t recover, however, would be the opportunities you miss thinking about the “what ifs” and not getting past your comfort zone.

According to Brad Smith of Codeless, companies aren’t really short of money — they only truly lack time.

“You simply don’t have enough hours in a day to grok around in the dark,” says Smith. “You can’t guess which keyphrases are going to work — so, you pay Google to find out.”

That’s why, as a marketer, you shouldn’t be afraid to test keywords out in your PPC campaign. It may cost you at first, but as long as you diligently track all the keywords you run, you’ll eventually zero in on the opportunity to win everything back.

Conclusion

In PPC, keyword research isn’t something you can take lightly. The success of your entire campaign depends on a portfolio of well-targeted keywords.

While experience is essential to your growth as a marketer, you don’t have to figure everything out by yourself.

Hopefully, the advice compiled above was able to launch your PPC campaign into a profitable trajectory. If it did, why not return the favor by being a mentor to someone else?

The comments section below is open to everyone — feel free to share your thoughts, suggestions, and a few tips of your own!

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