PPC Keyword Research

Having an effective PPC keyword strategy is crucial to the overall success of your Google Search campaigns. Check out this lesson to learn how to use various PPC keyword research tools to find the most profitable keywords for your business.

19 minutes

Key points you can
learn in this lesson.

High Purchasing Keywords

Understand how to conduct keyword research focused on high purchasing intent keywords.

Keyword Research

Learn the methodology behind choosing the right keywords to utilize in your Google Ads account.

Organizing Keyword Lists

Organize and build keyword lists to stay hyper-focused and organized. 

Our key metrics increased. More importantly, we implemented a lot of new tactics and test scenarios, which will boost our company’s future prospects.
Dave McCue
Digital Marketing Manager at Allstate

Lesson Preview

In this lesson, we’ll be walking through how to identify and select the valuable keywords in your industry.

What is Keyword Research?

Keyword research is the process of finding and researching the different terms people enter into search engines while searching for a particular subject, answer, product/service, etc. Keyword research for PPC advertising is different than the keyword research you would do for SEO because we are paying for the traffic. While there is a lot of overlap in the beginning process of keyword research, PPC keyword research focuses a lot more on keywords with high purchasing intent which are more likely to convert rather than keywords with informational intent.

Why is this important?

By understanding what keywords your audience is searching for when they are ready to convert, you’ll be able to develop a campaign strategy that is built around efficiency and profitability.

What you’ll need:

  • Template: PPC Keyword Research
    • Directive Example: PPC Keyword Research
  • Google Ads Account

Related Reading: How to Find Competitor’s Keywords with SpyFu

The Process:

Step 1: Create a Keyword Matrix

A Keyword Matrix is a great tool to help you get started with keyword research by organizing all of the different service/product lines that you have to offer.

1. Copy the keyword research template

2. Go to the “Keyword Matrix” tab. The sheet should look like the image below:

    • See our Directive example below: 

Step 2: Fill in the Keyword Matrix template

When you’re doing keyword research, you want to make sure that you don’t miss any combinations of terms that describe what you do. As you can see from the example above, you can test multiple combinations by going left to right, For example:

  • Best PPC marketing agency
  • Best PPC advertising agency
  • Best PPC agency
  • Best PPC company
  • B2B search engine marketing agency
  • Etc.

1. Fill in the body columns.

  • In this column, we are adding your core services or products. 
    • We broke this into two body columns for Directive because there are many combinations of what we do within our service lines.

  • With the structure above, you can make all types of combinations of terms such as:
    • PPC marketing
    • Digital advertising
    • Pay per click advertising
  • Not all combinations will make sense like “PPC media.” That is okay because those will be weeded out as we progress through the research. 
  • Don’t forget to include acronyms 
    • In many industries, it is common to describe services or products using acronyms. For digital marketing, we use acronyms quite often. Here are some common ones:
    • Note: Google Ads has something called “close variant match” which was designed to recognize acronyms and misspellings, but it does not catch everything.

2. Fill in the head column.

  • In this column, we are adding our adjectives. These are terms that are at the beginning of your phrase that describe your services or products.
  • As a best practice, we always include “best” and “top.” These two terms are very common for searchers in every industry.
  • For Directive, we are a search marketing agency that services B2B, B2C, enterprise, international, and local clients. Therefore, we included those in the list: 
  • Some other common ones that we’ve seen across various industries are:
    • Cloud
    • Online
    • Affordable
    • Small Business
    • Mobile
    • Portable
    • Simple
    • Bulk
    • Organic
    • Small/Large
    • Red/Green/etc.

3. Fill in the tail column.

    • In this column, we are adding what we are (not what we do). For Directive, you can describe what we are in multiple ways. We are a company, an agency, our product is a service, etc. 
    • The same goes for other industries as well. For a software company, we’ve seen it described as a platform, software, system, program, application, solution, etc.
    • If you were offering education, you could refer to it as an academy, university, school, etc.

4. Don’t forget about the idea dump column!

    • As we move through the keyword research, you will come across different topics that “could” fit into what you do.
    • For instance, with Directive, you could say that we are a lead generation company. SEO and PPC do generate leads. At the same time, there are a ton of other services that generate leads too.
    • If it came down to running ads for “PPC agency” or “lead generation agency,” we would favor “PPC agency” because it is more specific. As you get more experienced with PPC, you’ll find that a keyword’s level of specificity affects performance. More often than not, specific keywords perform better than less specific keywords.
    • In some industries, we’ve seen a lot of search interest for downloadable resources. If you believe this is the case with your business, add these keyword ideas into the “Idea Dump” as well. With the right strategy, these keywords can be a huge driving force in an account. These keywords typically have a tail term like a report, template, checklist, etc. For an HR software company, that can look like:
      • employee onboarding template
      • onboarding checklist
      • Etc.

Step 3: Competitor Research – Top Paid Keywords

For this step, the process is very similar to the research done in our previous lesson: “Module 2 Lesson 3 – Competitor Research”. However, instead of gathering keyword volume and CPC data, we’ll be doing competitor research purely for keyword identification.

Competitive research is a very important part of keyword research and PPC in general. We want to know what keywords our competitors are targeting and how much they are spending on those keywords. This gives us an inside look as to what their internal focus is for PPC, sometimes you’ll be surprised to see a competitor that you thought you would be up against in PPC is not even spending money on the keywords you are targeting.

You’ll need a free SpyFu account for this step and the next. If you have not created a free SpyFu account yet, please go ahead and create one now and return back to this step (click here to create a free SpyFu account).

1. Navigate to  https://www.spyfu.com/auth/login and input your credentials for your free trial account and login:

2. Once in, navigate to the “PPC Research” tab on the top navigation bar. Then input the first competitor in the search bar:

    • Here, you’ll get a high-level overview of your competitor’s monthly estimates. The higher these numbers, the more data you’ll have to work with. If your competitor has a very low amount of paid keywords, you may want to choose a different competitor.

3. Now, locate the left-hand navigation bar and click on the “Keywords” tab:

    • If the navigation bar does not show for you, just scroll down to the “Most Profitable Paid Keywords” section.
    • This section shows you the keywords your competitors are spending most of their efforts on. These keywords are likely the main focus in your competitor’s Google Ads account.


4. Copy the keywords listed here into the keyword research template in the “Competitor Research – Top Paid Keywords” tab.

    • Example:

5. Repeat steps 2 – 4 for your other two competitors. 

Step 4: Competitor Research – Shared Keywords

In this step, we’ll find the keywords that are shared across your competitors. When multiple competitors are bidding on the same keyword, that is often a sign that the keyword is highly valuable.

1. In SpyFu, navigate to the tab called “Kombat,” input your three competitors, and click “Fight”

2. A Venn diagram will populate with all the keywords each competitor is paying for. We’re going to gather all the shared keywords in the overlapping spaces. Start off by clicking the center of the diagram where all three competitors intersect. This will show you keywords that all three competitors bid on. 

3. Copy the keywords listed here into the keyword research template in the “Competitor 1, 2, and 3” column in the “Competitor Research – Shared Keywords.”

4. Repeat steps 2 and three for the other shared keywords. 


Step 5: Directory Organic Keywords

Paid directories are third-party review sites such as Clutch.co, Capterra, Software Advice, etc. These directories typically rank very well organically for high purchasing intent keywords and are a great starting point for your PPC keyword research. In this step, we’ll identify the high intent keywords that the paid directories rank for.

Related lessons.

Get full access to all lessons
today for only $99.