Choosing, or ‘targeting’ keywords in your Google AdWords account is a crucial part of building a high performing AdWords campaign.Google Adwords Keyword Selection Yellow How to

In this AdWords how to article we are going to look at the fundamentals of choosing the best keywords to target. We are not going to delve into match types, negative keywords or how to group into Ad Groups.

When choosing your keywords and key phrases (colloquially referred to as ‘keywords’ regardless of how many words in the targeted phrase) always mentally step back and think about the ‘intent’ of someone who would search for that keyword on Google. Getting the intent right with your keywords is the difference between a highly profitable AdWords campaign and one where you burn through money with no results.

Starting Point – The ‘Seed’ Keywords

To start with, brainstorm a list of ‘seed’ keywords for your business. Think about:

  1. What product or service do you offer?
  2. What problem does your product/service solve?
  3. What words are commonly used to describe your product/service?
  4. What words are commonly used to describe alternative products/services that your product/service could be a substitute for?
  5. What geographic location do you sell to?

For example if you sold New Zealand merino wool scarves online your seed keywords might be:

  • merino wool scarf
  • merino scarf
  • New Zealand merino wool scarf
  • merino wool scarf online
  • buy merino wool scarf
  • wool scarf
  • neck warmer
  • keep neck warm
  • winter scarf

Your seed keywords do not need to be perfect, you are just going to use them in the Google Keyword Planner to find more keywords. Once you have a few keywords move on to the next step.

Expand Your Keyword List with Keyword Planner

The purpose of using the Google AdWords Keyword Planner is to utilise Google’s data to see if there are any variations of keywords you haven’t thought of, to expand your list and to get an idea of search volume data for your keywords.

Go to:

  1. Sign into your AdWords account.
  2. Select ‘Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category’
  3. Paste your ‘seed’ keywords into the ‘Your product or service’ box
  4. Add additional details if you wish and click ‘Get Ideas’

adwords keyword planner screenshot

With the merino wool scarf example the Keyword Planner expanded my seed keyword list into just under 800 potential keywords.

keyword planner merino wool results screenshot

The Keyword Planner will give you lots of potential keywords to target in your campaigns and useful insight into search volumes for those keywords, but remember not all of the keywords will be valuable your business. So apply logic and common sense when selecting keywords.

Always ask yourself “Is it possible that someone searching for _______ will buy from me?”. Judging the intent to take action is particularly important as someone searching for ‘how to make a merino wool scarf’ is highly relevant to merino wool scarves, but they are unlikely to buy from you.

Always consider whether your product/service provides a potential solution to the problem the person searching has.

In the above example the Keyword Planner provided some useful alternative keywords like ‘shawl’ and ‘wrap’, some alternative materials like ‘possum fur’ and ‘kashmere’ which may or may not be valuable to target (Tip: If you have limited budget, initially do not target alternatives because they are not what you offer). The Keyword Planner also provided keywords which are not relevant ie. ‘socks’ which would want to be added as ‘negative’ keywords.

Tip: You can always change the keywords you enter into the Keyword Planner to get different results, or consider using the advanced filtering options to filter the keyword ideas the planner provides. ‘Keywords to include’ and ‘Negative keywords’ are particularly useful when building your plan.

Finalise Your List of Keywords For AdWords

You can utilise the Keyword Planner ‘Add to plan’ functionality to build your final keyword list for targeting in AdWords. Alternatively you can copy/paste into Excel or Google Sheets. The key point is to utilise the AdWords Keyword Planner alongside your brainstormed seed keywords and your knowledge of your business plus common sense to compile a list of highly relevant keywords to target.

Keyword Planner refine your list of keywords screenshot

Summarising the Steps to Choosing Your Keywords

  1. Brainstorm searches that your product/service provides a solution to (your seed keywords).
  2. Enter your seed keywords into the Google Adwords Keyword Planner to expand the list of potential keywords.
  3. Manually filter through the list applying common sense and logic to remove keywords which are either not relevant, are searches you do not provide a solution for, or are searches that do not have the right intent.


Other Important AdWords Considerations Not Covered Above

  1. Keyword match types
  2. Negative Keywords
  3. Structuring your AdWords account
  4. Grouping your Keywords
  5. Bidding
  6. Writing ad copy
  7. Setting up and tracking goal conversions
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