What Are Keywords & How They Work in PPC

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Keywords are the foundation for everything in PPC. Keywords are what you use to define where your ads should appear.

Without a solid understanding of what keywords are and how to use them effectively, you’ll never be successful with PPC.

Before getting started, it’s important to understand some of the terminologies in this guide.

  • Search Term: The word or words a user types into Google when performing a search.
  • Keyword: A word, or a set of words, that you add to your Google Ads campaigns.
  • Keyword Match Type: A setting for your keywords that will determine the keyword’s reach.

Types of Keywords

When you think of keywords, it’s useful to understand what buckets the different keywords are in and how this sets them apart.

The types of keywords include:

  • Branded keywords include company names (e.g., Amazon, Target).
  • Generic keywords typically cover ambiguous keywords, and can also be referred to as short tail keywords (e.g., “running shoes,” “plumbing,” “towing”). The gist of a generic keyword is that we don’t understand their intent yet. There is nothing in the search that shows us whether this person is looking to buy a pair of shoes, or if they are just searching for different kinds of shoes.
  • Transactional keywords are keywords that have both a strong and weak purchase intent. As long as there is some purchase intent, then you can label a keyword a commercial keyword. This is everything from “Nike running shoes” to “plumbing services.”
  • Locational keywords cover everything that’s related to a location and are very powerful for location-based companies. Often these are your typical home services. It can be a city name (e.g., “towing company San Francisco”) or an actual request to show ads that have companies “near me” (e.g., “towing company near me”).
  • Long-tail keywords cover keywords that consist of more than 3-4 words (e.g., “Nike running shoes for marathon”). They are typically highly transactional meaning they have higher conversion rates than the other keyword types.
  • Informational keywords cover keywords where people are simply looking for information. This can be anything from “Sears store directions” to “how to get rid of a wart.” You would rarely use info-keywords for Google Ads.

Quick note: The buckets above are not either or. Just because a keyword is “long” doesn’t mean it can’t also be a branded or an info-keyword. – Read more