How To Find The Best Keywords For Google Ads

Apr 11, 2023

For as long as Google Ads has been around, a core requirement for success with Google Search campaigns is to make sure that you are selecting the right keywords to trigger your ads. 

However, like a lot of things in life, keyword research has become a lot more complicated over the last couple of years. 

This is because Google has changed how their match types function in Google Ads. You still have 3 different options for Keyword targeting with:

  • Broad Match
  • Phrase Match
  • Exact Match

I would not argue that Exact match operates like Phrase match, Phrase match operates like Broad match, and Broad match is just where anything goes.

This is because Google changed the targeting away from targeting the keyword that you entered to now targeting the meaning of that keyword.

For example, if you are targeting the exact match keyword of “holiday villas in Tuscany”, this will now target user searches like:

  • Holiday homes in Tuscany
  • Tuscany holiday apartments
  • Weekend accommodation in Tuscany

The key take-home message is even when you are using exact match keywords, they target what Google determines to be the meaning or user intent.

This is not necessarily a bad thing because, at the same time as the KW match types changing for Google Ads, Google’s underlying algorithm and targeting have gotten much MUCH better over the past 12 - 24 months.

So for new people to Google Ads, you can just follow this process I show you in the video below, but for anyone like me who has been running Google Ads campaigns for more than 2 years, keyword research in 2023 looks very different to what it looked like in previous years.

The good news is that your keyword research process is now much quicker. Up until the end of 2021, keyword research was a long process that sometimes would take up to 2-3 hours for larger campaigns to:

  • Find every possible variation of the keyword
  • Break into single keyword ad groups
  • Review the CPC and traffic volumes to find the right segmentation

For keyword research in 2023, the process that I have seen produce the most success is too:

  • Complete your keyword research in the Google Ads keyword planner
  • Break 2-3 broad match keywords into Single Keyword theme ad groups

Then over the first 1-2 months of the campaign, run search term audits every 72 hours to build your keyword list to having 2 broad match keywords with a collection of high converting phrase & exact match keywords

Remember how I said that you need to complete search term audits every 72 hours…

This is because, for success, you need to know exactly what you are optimising! You can get a copy of my Google Ads Optimisation in the video description below.

The step-by-step process of keyword research in 2023

If you are a beginner, here are the exact steps you need to take to plan the starting keywords for a new ad campaign. By following these steps, you'll optimize your ad spend and drive more conversions.

Step 1: Access Tools and Settings

First, log in to your Google Ads account. Once you're in the dashboard, locate the "Tools & Settings" icon in the upper right corner (it looks like a wrench). Click on it to access a variety of tools that can help you optimize your ad campaigns.

Step 2: Navigate to the Planning Section

In the "Tools & Settings" menu, you'll find a section titled "Planning." Click on it to proceed.

Step 3: Open the Keyword Planner

Within the "Planning" section, you'll see an option for "Keyword Planner." Click on this to open the planner, which will present you with three options: "Discover new keywords", "Get search volume and forecasts", and "Organize keywords into ad groups." For our purposes, click on "Discover new keywords."

Step 4: Enter Your Target Keywords

Now you'll be prompted to enter the target keywords that you want to use for your ad campaign. These should be words or phrases related to your product, service, or industry. You can enter multiple keywords at once, separated by commas or line breaks. Once you've input your desired keywords, click on "Get Results."

Step 5: Analyze and Select Relevant Keywords

Google Ads will now generate a list of keywords related to the ones you entered. This list will include valuable data such as average monthly searches, competition level, and suggested bid amounts. Analyze the results to find keywords that are relevant to your campaign and have a good balance of search volume, competition, and cost.

Step 6: Add Keywords to Your Plan

Once you've identified the most promising keywords, click the checkbox next to each one to select them. After selecting your keywords, click on the "Add Keywords" button to add them to your plan. This will save them for later use when you're ready to create your ads and set your bids.

Tips on choosing the right starting keywords

Think Like Your Ideal Customer

Put yourself in your customers' shoes and consider what terms they might use to search for your product or service. This will help you create a list of relevant keywords that cater to your target audience's needs and preferences.

Does the Keyword Have a High Level of Buying Intent?

Some keywords indicate a higher level of buying intent than others. For example, a keyword like "buy running shoes online" suggests that the searcher is ready to make a purchase, while a keyword like "best running shoes" implies that the searcher is still researching their options. Focus on keywords with higher buying intent to maximize your chances of converting clicks into sales.

Use the Negative Keywords Function

Negative keywords are terms that you don't want your ads to appear for. By adding these to your campaign, you can prevent your ads from showing up in irrelevant searches and reduce wasted ad spend. For example, if you sell new running shoes, you might add "used" as a negative keyword to ensure your ads don't show up for searches related to used shoes.

Pick Keywords with High Search Volume

Keywords with high search volume are more likely to drive traffic to your ads. However, keep in mind that high search volume can also mean higher competition and costs. Strike a balance between search volume and competition when selecting your starting keywords.

Use Google Trends to Find Trending Keywords

Google Trends is a powerful tool for identifying trending search terms in your industry. By incorporating these trending keywords into your campaign, you can capitalize on current events and consumer interests to drive more traffic to your ads.

Add Your Highest Clicked Keywords to the Landing Page Copy

Once you've identified your top-performing keywords, make sure to include them in the copy of your landing pages. This will improve your ad's relevance and quality score, resulting in better ad placements and lower costs per click. Additionally, it can help increase conversions by creating a consistent message between your ads and landing pages.