How To Select Keywords For A First PPC Campaign

Profitable PPC campaigns start with keyword research. There are no shortcuts. Get this step wrong, and your PPC campaign is doomed to lose money. This article will show you 3 key steps you should follow to select the best keywords especially if this is your first PPC campaign.

Don’t rush keyword research. Follow the steps below with precision and care to select the best keywords especially if this is your first PPC campaign.

We’re going to cover the following:

  • How to build your initial keywords list
  • How to uncover the keywords your competitors’ are using
  • How to sort and determine which keywords are best to use for your first PPC campaign

Let’s get started.

How To Build Your Initial List Of Keywords

Nothing fancy here.

Start out by thinking of all the keywords you can off the top of your head. List the most obvious keywords. Write down all the keywords that your target audience would use to find your products and services.

Go to Google’s keyword tool once you have your list. As a prerequisite, be sure that you have a Google Adwords account. For the sake of this exercise, be sure you’re logged into your Adwords account when you use the keyword tool.

Copy your keywords into the Google Keyword Tool.

Click the columns button, which is below the SEARCH button on the right side of the screen.

Then select the following: Competition, Local Monthly Searches, and Approximate CPC (cost per click).

Another thing…

Go to the left column of the page under the heading, “Match Types” and check the box next to “[Exact].” Then uncheck the box next to “Broad.”

Look through the list of keyword results. Click on the star to the left of every keyword that is directly related to your product or service.

Ask yourself, “Would a potential buyer search for this term?”

Obviously, ignore the unrelated keywords.

Next, use the “More like these” command to discover even more related keywords. You can find “More like these” underneath the SEARCH button in the upper middle of the page).

Select “Starred.”

Complete this process several times.

Final step

Click the Download button located below the SEARCH button on the left side of the page. Select Starred, and then select CSV for Excel.

Lastly, save this file on your computer. You’ll need it opened for our next steps.


Uncover Competitors’ Keywords

The reason you want to know your competitors’ keywords is because they’ve already taken the time to do keyword research. It’s all part of market analysis.

There are tools to help you uncover your competitors’ keywords.

There are several to choose from. Keyword Spy, Market Samurai and Spy Fu all offer products for individual online marketers, PPC researchers/consultants and SEO specialists.

It’s not a must, but it will save you time. For now, let’s do this manually still using Google’s free keyword tool.

To get started, type your keywords, one keyword at a time, into Google’s search bar, and copy all of the domain names of your competitors. Just the top ten will do, but you can copy as many as you want.

Start another tab with the competitors’ domain name in your Excel file.

Go through your list of competitor domains. Copy/paste the domain name into the website field of the Google keyword tool.  Take note of the keyword results. Then cross reference your competitors’ keywords with your existing list. This will determine which keywords you don’t already have.

Now enter those new keywords you just found from your competitors results into the Google Keyword Tool. Go through the same process as you did from when you originally unearthed your original list of keywords.


Sort and Determine Which Keywords From Your List Are Best To Use For Your First PPC Campaign

At this point, you have a list of directly related keywords that would be searched by buyers of your product or service.

Now all we need to do is sort this list to determine the best keywords to use for your first PPC campaign.

Here’s how to do that:

  • Add a column to the right of “Approximate CPC” and label it “Competition Adjusted CPC”
  • In each of the rows in this new column multiply the Approximate CPC by the Competition
  • Sort by the lowest “Competition Adjusted CPC”

What you should have are your cheapest and least competitive keywords at the top. You’ve successfully selected keywords for your first PPC campaign.

Good luck!


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KWBrowse: A Lateral Keyword Research Tool

I got a pretty cool email yesterday.

I’m actually in a cafe called Lemon right now in Abdoun with some friends but I wanted to whip out this really quick post. The email was a link to a video about how to troubleshoot your Adwords account and diagnose quality score problems long before your quality score value changes. It’s part of a paid PPC newsletter I subscribe to, so I can’t share that video with you. But I want to tell you about a tool they suggested called KWBrowse that gives new keyword suggestions.

This tool is different from many others I use in that it gives new LATERAL keyword suggestions.

Most keyword tools will ask you for an input keyword as a seed from which to derive other suggestions. This is good when you want to go deep in your campaigns and get longer-tail suggestions.  However, KWBrowse gives you a graphical representation of keyword groups that help you go WIDE in your campaigns. You can take their suggestions and plug them into the Google Keyword Tool.

Check it out at

Try it and let me know what you think!

To learn more of Jim’s PPC advertising techniques, check out PPC Domination.