When it comes to AdWords, using the right keywords within your campaigns is vital.
Without them, your prospective customers will be less likely to see your ads. Worst of all, the wrong people could be clicking on them.
If you think you have “already done” the keyword research, think again. Keyword research is an ongoing process that needs to be regularly revisited. The terms that people are using today change, and keywords that worked well in the past might have declined over time.
And if you think guessing what people are searching for is a good idea, think again. You’re probably missing out on some great keyword opportunities.
My current list of keyword sources.
I’ve compiled a list of the tools that I use on a regular basis to manage our client’s AdWords accounts. Some of these I use every day while others only occasionally. I highly recommend that you have a look at each of them.
AdWords keyword planner.
I would be surprised if you never heard of or used Google’s keyword tool. The keyword planner is found within your AdWords account, and I tend to use it as a starting point for all of my keyword research.
Many people don’t realize that you can enter your website or your competitor’s website into the tool to get keyword ideas. It’s also a great way to see how Google interpret the webpage you entered.
But there’s a catch. The big problem with the AdWords keyword planner is that it’s not very accurate.
Aside from the fact that Google don’t share the true keyword data, they also hide the real numbers through rounded averages. If your AdWords budget is low, you might be seeing values like 0, 1-100, 100-1K, 1K-10K, and so on in the average monthly searches column.
There are also other issues with the tool, but I still recommend it as a good starting point. Like most things Google, always be skeptical of the results.
AdWords search terms report.
If you want greater accuracy, this report is a step in the right direction.
The search terms report will show you the actual keywords that resulted in your ads being displayed and clicked on.
I use this report to find new keyword themes to target as well as negative keywords.
I also use it to understand how people are actually searching for whatever our clients are offering. The better I understand what people are looking for, the more relevant my ads and landing pages can be. That translates into a lower cost per click from an AdWords perspective.
While this report is more accurate, it’s still far from perfect.
You’ll need to have been running AdWords for some time to use this report and you’ll also need plenty of data to work with. If your initial campaign has only a few keywords and clicks, this report will be as good as useless.
Also, Google don’t share all the data. You won’t see every single search query, especially those that don’t result in a click.
Google autocomplete / suggest / instant.
Over the years, this has gone by a few names, but if you need to expand on some of your existing keywords, Google suggests is a great tool.
You’ve probably come across it before. As you type into Google search, related keyword ideas are instantly suggested.
This is a great tool to see what Google are offering to your prospective customers. It’s also useful for finding negative keyword possibilities.
I’m not suggesting that you visit Google search and start typing in all your keywords to see all the variations. That would be rather time consuming.
You can, however, use one of these third-party tools to automate the process for you:
Google search console.
Google search console (GSC) formerly known as Google webmaster tools, is another great source of keyword ideas.
More specifically you’ll want to have a look at the search analytics report. It can help identify potential keyword opportunities that are coming through Google organic.
The great part about this report is that it shows you data on impressions without clicks. In other words, possible keyword opportunities for use within AdWords.
There is even a report within AdWords that connects your AdWords keyword data with your GSC query data. It’s called the paid & organic report which can be found on the dimensions tab.
Just keep in mind that the data within the GSC only contains Google organic queries, and again the standard disclaimer applies: it’s not 100% accurate.
Many years ago, Google Analytics was the source for all your organic keyword data. That changed when Google removed keywords and replaced them with (not provided) in the interest of security. Hmmm.
But that doesn’t mean Google Analytics is no longer a source of keywords.
If your website contains a search form and your visitors regularly use it to search, you’re sitting on a potential keyword gold mine.
All you need to do is have Google Analytics record those searches and you’ll be able to see all the queries used by your website visitors. With that knowledge, you’ll be able to target precisely what your visitors want.
Here is more information on how to set this up and access the data.
Third-party keyword tools.
Over the years, Google have been pulling back on the keyword accuracy and level of detail they share. Other companies are seeing this as an opportunity and have created some interesting keyword tools.
ahrefs is a great source for finding new keyword ideas.
One of the features that I like within ahrefs is that it provides insights on your competitors keywords. You enter in your competitor’s domain, and ahrefs churns out an immense amount of useful data. You’ll be able to see what keywords they’re bidding on, the ads they’re using, their top landing pages and more.
But this really is only scratching the surface with what you can do with ahrefs. I would recommend that you check them out.
The Moz keyword explorer is another source that I sometimes use for additional keyword ideas. It’s primarily geared up for SEO, but I do find it useful for spotting new keyword opportunities that I might have overlooked.
Answer the public is an unusual keyword tool. It takes the Google suggested results and forms various questions that you can use for keyword research. These questions can help you better understand what your target market are looking for.
I recommend that you give it a try.
Wordtracker scout is a free Chrome browser extension. It helps you rip keyword ideas out of any webpage you’re currently viewing.
You could use it on your own website or your competitor’s website and extract all sorts of interesting keyword ideas.
The Keyword Funnel is a free tool that I regularly use, but not in the manner that it was designed for! Keyword Funnel, takes a massive list of keywords and auto generates ad groups that you can target within AdWords.
What I like to do is use the tool in conjunction with the search terms report.
I import all the search queries from the search terms report into the Keyword Funnel. Then it quickly breaks down all those terms into a word or phrase frequency report.
It makes it very easy to spot recurring phrases and themes, that I can then use for targeting or even excluding through negative keywords.
Google search is often overlooked, but is another great source for keyword ideas.
When you search Google using one of your keywords, you see the Google suggested data, competitor’s ads, knowledge graph, organic listings and other related searches. These are all potential sources for keyword ideas.
You can either manually extract ideas from the Google search results, or you can use some of the tools that I previously mentioned. Note that it’s always a good idea to review the search results.
Google trends, as the name suggests, reports on keyword trends over time.
For example, you might be seeing a decline from one of your important keywords within AdWords. Checking that keyword through Google trends you’ll be able to see how it’s been trending over time. You might find that people just aren’t using that keyword as much as they used to.
It’s important to note that Google do hold back the real search volume numbers within this tool. They only present data on a scale of 0 through 100 but that still gives you an idea of how things are trending.
Google trends also gives you insights into related topics, queries and interest by region.
I hope I’ve enlightened you to some new keyword sources that you weren’t aware of.
If you have any good keyword tools that I didn’t mention, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am always on the lookout for good sources for keywords.