Picking Profitable AdWords Keywords

The key to selecting the right keywords is to think like your customer.  Get out a piece of paper and write down phrases that a customer would search to find your product.  Write down everything that comes to mind, even if it seems unrealistic.  You don’t want to leave some keywords off of your radar that could potentially drive serious (profitable) traffic to your website.

Bear in mind that this is not an exercise in positive thinking, where you’re hoping that a customer will be searching for “John’s Icon Software” or even your brand name.  Imagine how ludicrous it would have been to run AdWords for the search phrase “Prosperly” when we were just launching.  It’s not (or wasn’t) even a word and nobody knew about it prior to our launch — how would they know to search for it?

Time and time again we have clients where we ask them which keywords they’d like to target and they’ll mention their unique store’s name of Joan’s Gift Card Repository.  Unless you’ve built a formidable brand, people won’t be searching for it.

Let’s work through an example:

Let’s assume you’ve built some amazing icon software that converts any type of image file into a Windows icon file.  Your initial brainstorming might look something like this:



(Note: this mindmap was created using the free, and very useful mindmapping program called Freemind.)

I started out extremely general with the phrase icon and drilled down accordingly.  You can see that I may want to target icon software, but recognize that people sometimes use software and program synonymously, so I’ll want to target icon program as well.  Drilling down even further, I may want to target icon program searches specific to the Mac userbase.  Again, recognize that people could be using different words to search for the same thing.  Mac could also be searched under OSX, Apple or (less likely) Macintosh.

This brainstorm may not be the exact keyword phrases that I target in AdWords, but rather the ideas on which I’ll need to focus to build and refine my keyword list.

There are several keyword tools available that will suggest possible keyword phrases:

AdWords Keyword Tool (find it under Campaign Management -> Tools -> Keyword Tool) lets you enter a keyword phrase and get synonymous and more specific search phrases as a result.  You can then estimate (vaguely) the cost-per-click and traffic of that keyword phrase.

Wordtracker used to be the grand-daddy of keyword tools and is still a favorite of many internet marketing experts. If you’re a serious PPC or SEO marketer, you should definitely have Wordtracker at your disposal.

KeyWordDiscovery is much more up our alley, as its feature set is significantly more built out with only a small difference in price.  KeywordDiscovery, in my opinion, is WordTracker on steroids.

These are very useful, but we recommend working through the brainstorming exercise first, before going to the tools.  The main reason for this is that it will help solidify in your mind your end customer, putting you in their shoes to help you fill their need.

One thought on “Picking Profitable AdWords Keywords

  1. Your name in your ad is of course your URL. When crafting an ad, most people spend a lot of time concentrating on the headline (well worth doing as it is the most important part arguably) and on the ad text (also a good thing but not as important as you’d think).

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