PPC Keywords Guide

PPC Keywords Guide
Article by Bisera Stankovska
Last Updated: February 13, 2024

When you bid on the right keywords for your pay-per-click (PPC) ad campaign, you boost your brand’s visibility by placing your offerings front and center on search result pages (SERPs).

But how do you know which PPC keywords to bid on?

In this article, we’ll cover types of PPC keywords, explain how you can find the right PPC keywords for your campaign and lastly, share our top PPC keyword research tools to help you with your keyword research and reap the benefits of PPC.

What Are PPC Keywords?

Pay-per-click (PPC) keywords are search terms you place a bid on so you can secure your PPC ad placement on the top of search engine result pages (SERPs).

Bidding on a keyword that’s relevant to the search queries of your target audience allows your PPC ad to appear to the right people, at the right time.

Agency description goes here
Agency description goes here
Agency description goes here

Types Of Keywords In PPC

From brand keywords to negative keywords, here are the six types of PPC keywords.

  1. Brand Keywords
  2. Generic Keywords
  3. Long-tail Keywords
  4. Locational Keywords
  5. Competitive Keywords
  6. Negative Keywords

1. Brand Keywords

Brand keywords are keywords used for brand search terms. They include your brand name and other search terms (the words your user types into Google) related to your brand.

Brand keyword examples include “Nike.com” and “Nike shop.”

On the other hand, a brand-plus keyword is a type of PPC keyword under brand keywords that includes your brand name and a qualifying phrase.

Examples of brand-plus keywords include “Nike running shoes.”

  • Brand-plus keywords have other search variations, including:
  • Brand + product name (“Nike Air Max”)
  • Brand + long-tail keyword (“Nike Air Zoom running shoe size 13”)
  • Brand + sale (“Nike discount” or “Nike sale”)
  • Brand + coupon (“Nike coupon”)
  • Brand + review (“Nike Air Jordan review”)
  • Brand + website (“www.Nike” or “Nike website”)

2. Generic Keywords

Generic keywords, also known as short-tail keywords, are non-specific search terms relevant to your brand’s products or services.

Let’s say you own a retail store.

When you bid on PPC keywords, you might include generic keywords such as “running shoes,” “lightweight jackets” and “men’s jeans,” so your PPC ad campaigns to pop up whenever users search for these keywords.

3. Long-tail Keywords

Long-tail keywords typically include three or more keywords. They allow your PPC ad to pop up even when your user searches for lengthy terms or phrases.

An example of a long-tail keyword is “Nike running shoes for a triathlon.”

4. Locational Keywords

Locational keywords include location-specific search terms.

An example of a locational keyword is “retail store San Francisco.”

In addition, locational keywords can generate PPC ad results depending on your user’s geographic location, such as “retail stores near me.”

5. Competitive Keywords

Competitive keywords are search terms that are relevant to your brand’s competitor(s).

Investing in competitive keywords allows you to put your brand and offerings front and center for users who are searching for your competitor’s products or services.

For example, when a user searches for “Sony TV,” a Samsung TV PPC ad which says “Switch to Samsung TVs” pops up.

Samsung’s tongue-in-cheek approach is enticing those who are interested in a Sony TV to make a switch to a Samsung TV instead.

6. Negative Keywords

Negative keywords prevent your PPC ads from being displayed by a certain phrase or search term.

Let’s say you own a beachfront villa and you’re creating PPC ad campaigns for the target keywords “beachfront villa” or “beachfront vacation.”

To prevent your ad from showing up for searches such as “hillside villa” or “hillside vacation,” you can add them as your negative keywords.

This can help you further reach your target audience, and make sure your ads are only showing for relevant searchers.

Get connected with the right web pay-per-click advertising for your project.

Keyword Match Types For PPC

Now that you know about the different types of PPC keywords, we can dive into keyword match types.

Keyword match types ensure you get the most value from your PPC ad budget by mixing and matching keywords that will help increase your ad’s visibility on Google.

There are three main types:

1. Broad Keyword Match

A broad keyword match type is a combination of keywords that include synonyms, misspellings, words that aren’t in order, related searches and any other search terms that Google considers relevant.

For example, if your user searches for “bik shop” (misspelled) or “cycle store” (related search) but the keyword you’re targeting isr “bike shop,” your PPC ad will still appear on Google.

2. Exact Keyword Match

Living up to the name, an exact keyword match type shows your PPC ad when the exact search term is entered into Google or when a close search term variant is being used.

Due to their restrictive nature, exact match keywords regulate how often your PPC ad will appear.

Again, let’s say your target keyword is “bike shop.”

If a user looks up “bik shop” on Google, which is misspelled, your PPC ad campaign for your bike shop won’t appear. A user would have to correctly spell “bike shop” to see your ad.

3. Phrase Keyword Match

A phrase keyword match type ensures your PPC ad is only displayed when the search term is in the proper order.

Unlike broad match, phrase match doesn’t allow words in between your target keyword.

For your PPC ad campaign to pop up, the search query must match a phrase keyword by containing every keyword or at least close variants of the keyword. Close variants include abbreviations, singular and plural words and misspellings.

So, if your target keyword is “bike shop,” and a user searches for “local bike shop” your PPC ad campaign will still appear.

However, if a user searches for “bike local shop” your PPC ad campaign won’t appear.

Looking for the best PPC agencies?

How To Find The Right PPC Keywords: A Step-By-Step Guide

  1. Brainstorm Ideas
  2. Perform Competitor Research
  3. Conduct Keyword Research
  4. Group Your Keywords Into Ad Groups

As PPC is favored both by marketers and business owners to increase visibility and target relevant audiences, this number is likely growing.

Of course, the first step in a PPC ad campaign is to find the right keywords. Here’s how:

1. Brainstorm Ideas

In the brainstorming step, put yourself in the shoes of your target audience and think of the keywords they’re most likely to enter into Google’s search bar.

It might be a little overwhelming to brainstorm every PPC keyword your customer might think of, so organize your keywords into types and start there.

Cover each type we listed above to cover all possible keywords, from brand and long-tail keywords to broad and exact match types.

2. Perform Competitor Research

Next, find out what your competitors are doing for their PPC ad campaigns.

By performing competitor research, you can find out which keywords your competitors are bidding on and which keywords they’re ranking for.

You can perform competitor keyword research by utilizing PPC keyword research tools such as Google Keyword Planner and SpyFu.

While competitor research can be a gold mine for information, you shouldn’t copy your competitors every move.

If you see that they’re spending a lot of money on keywords that are irrelevant to your brand, think twice before copying their keyword list.

3. Conduct Keyword Research

After brainstorming and checking what your competitors are up to, it’s time to take your keywords list and refine it.

To help you with creating your list and deciding on the keywords to use for your PPC ad, use a keyword research tool such as Google Keyword Planner.

With Google’s Keyword Planner, you can discover:

  • A keyword’s click-through rate (CTR)
  • A keyword’s quality score or the metric to rate your ad campaign
  • A keyword’s rate or cost-per-click
  • A keyword’s potential impressions or how many times the keyword is displayed on search engine result pages (SERPs)

In this stage, consider which keywords are out of your budget and which are worth spending on.

Typically, a keyword costs anywhere from $1 to $2 in the United States.

4. Group Your Keywords Into Ad Groups

Once you’ve narrowed down the list of keywords you want to target, it’s time to organize them into PPC ad groups.

A PPC ad group is a group of ads targeted for specific keywords.

Let’s break down an example of an ad group.

Let’s say you have an ad campaign focused on an outdoor grill sale.

To market your PPC campaign, you can create two ad groups: “Gas grills” and “Smoker grills” with two or more ads in each group.

Under the “Gas grills” ad group, you might include the following keywords: “natural gas grills” and “propane gas grills.” These ads will lead a user to your gas grill landing page.

Under the “Smoker grills” ad group, you might include the following keywords: “meat smokers” and “charcoal smoker grills.” These ads will lead a user to your smoker grill landing page.

Ultimately, PPC ad groups assist your PPC optimization efforts by enabling you to choose your target audiences and the keywords you can use to engage with your target groups. 

Top PPC Keyword Research Tools

Ready to get started on your PPC campaign? There are plenty of keyword research tools out there that can help.

Here are our top picks for PPC keyword research tools that can help you narrow down your keyword list.

1. Google Keyword Planner

Google Keyword Planner is a keyword research tool that provides insights into keyword trends and how often keywords are searched.

Google Keyword Planner shows 30-day search trends, relevant keywords, and average monthly searches for the keywords you enter.

In addition, Google’s refine keywords feature allows you to filter specific attributes related to your keywords.

For example, if you enter keywords related to oily skin, you can refine your results by skin type, skin condition, and more.

2. SpyFu

True to its name, SpyFu takes competitor research to another level.

SpyFu allows you to search for your competitor(s), download their PPC keywords, discover how many clicks they get and see how much your they pay for each keyword.

In addition, you can monitor the keywords your competitors bought, see their complete Google Ad’s campaign history and check out every keyword that didn’t work out for them.

3. WordStream Free Keyword Tool

WordStream’s free keyword tool allows you to enter a URL or keyword to get a list of keyword suggestions, including long-tail keyword variations, related keywords, cost-per-clicks and keyword search volume.

In addition, you can filter your keywords by industry and location.

WordStream’s free keyword tool provides you with the top 25 keywords. To use the tool and receive the data, just enter your email address into the search bar.

4. Microsoft Keyword Planner Tool

The Microsoft Keyword Planner Tool is a free research tool that provides keyword research list templates to keep your PPC keywords organized.

The free tool provides an Excel plugin so you can paste your keywords and acquire a parent list of keyword recommendations, including cost-per-clicks, bid estimates, keyword match types, clicks and impressions.

Wrapping Up On PPC Keywords

PPC keywords and keyword match types are vital elements of your PPC strategy. To get your offering in front of potential customers, you have to find the right ones for your ads and bid on them.

As spearheading PPC campaigns is resource-intensive, and if you’d rather focus on other operational tasks, you can always outsource PPC advertising to a digital marketing agency.

PPC Keywords FAQs

What is the best keyword tool for PPC?

Google’s Keyword Planner is widely considered one of the best keyword tools for PPC advertising. Semrush, Ahrefs, and SpyFu are other popular options.

Are SEO and PPC keywords the same?

No, SEO and PPC keywords are not necessarily the same. While they both involve targeting specific words or phrases, SEO keywords focus on generating organic traffic, while PPC keywords are used in paid advertising campaigns.

How many keywords should I use for PPC?

The optimal number of keywords for PPC campaigns varies, but starting with a set of 5-20 focused, relevant, and high-quality keywords per ad group is generally recommended for effective management and performance tracking.

We’ll find qualified PPC marketing agencies for your project, for free.
Subscribe to Spotlight Newsletter
Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest industry news