The Four Types of PPC Keywords

9:00 am in PPC Marketing Blog by brad

Finding new keywords usually involves examining some of your existing top performing keywords in all of the available tools and reports to find variations that you can use to increase the traffic your PPC ads generate.

Conducting keyword research in this manner usually leads to choosing keywords that already have multitudes of advertisers. One of your goals in conducting keyword research should be to find entirely new themes of keywords—many of which will have little or no competition. Some of these themes will convert, while others will not, but this is a very low-risk strategy for expanding the scope of your paid search campaign.

These mystical keywords do exist. Keywords that convert and yet have little to no competition. You will know you have struck gold when you find themes that have little competition, low CPCs, and that convert as well or higher than your existing keywords.

Before discussing how to find these new themes lets examine four common keyword types:

  • Explicit keywords: Directly describe a product
  • Problems keywords: Describes the conditions a product solves
  • Symptoms keywords: Describes a problem
  • Product names and part numbers: An actual product name and/or part number

Here are examples of these keyword types:

Explicit Problem Symptom Product Names & Part Numbers
Boston Plumber Flooded basement Broken pipe p-1011 3/4
Laptop memory can’t run excel slow computer 1GB PC2-5300 DDR2

This breakdown can be a useful way of organizing keywords into ad groups as it does represent different types of searchers. Some people think more in terms of products; others in terms of solutions. Having ad copy that speaks to the way the searcher is looking for your products can be very useful.

If you look closely at these keywords, they can tell you stories. For example, if your computer is so slow that you are having problems running excel, one of the solutions could be to install more laptop memory, and your particular laptop requires part number 1bg pc2-5300 DDR2 memory.

A pipe broke in your basement, causing it to flood, and now you need a plumber in Boston to come fix the problem and the part number he needs to replace your broken pipe is a p-1-1011 3/4.

It’s easy to see these stories after you have conducted keyword research. However, instead of creating stories after doing keyword research, you could also create these scenarios and use them to find new keywords.

Lets assume that you sell laptop memory. You look up “excel slow” on the Google keyword tool and find it has 12,100 searches a month. You then do a search and realize there are absolutely no ads showing for this keyword. A little digging gives you a dozen variations of “excel slow” that lead to about fifty thousand impressions a month.

You add those keywords into your account and decide to gather some data. It turns out that their conversion rates are lower than keywords such as “buy laptop memory,” but the CPCs are so low, the keywords are profitable. Now, you can expand that theme to other office products such as “Outlook slow,” “Word slow,” etc and you can easily add another few hundreds thousand monthly impressions for your keywords.

In fact, as of the day this article was written none of the keyword searches for slow and any Microsoft Office product displayed a single ad on Google. Of course, this does not mean these words would convert. It just shows there are problem and solving keyword types that are under-monetized and worth testing to see if you can get conversions on these keywords.

Next time you want to find new keywords, don’t start with a keyword tool. Think about your products, and ask these questions:

  • What problems can you solve?
  • What creative solutions can you come up with?
  • What symptoms appear to a consumer that your product will fix for them?

Write a few simple stories. They do not have to be long. They only need to contain a problem, symptom, explicit solution and product keyword. Now do keyword research using these stories to see if you can find entirely new customers to reach.

Often this research has already been done by your product department. If your product department creates use-case scenarios for your services and products in the design phase or before taking them to market ask to see the use-cases. Reading these scenarios may open up entirely new avenues for marketing your products.

Keyword tools are useful for expanding what you have found. They definitely have a place in every marketers toolkit.

However, creating use-case scenarios by writing short stories for your products can lead you in entirely new directions for finding golden keywords.


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