PPC Keyword Research & Grouping Tools –Time Savers, or a Waste?

Building PPC Keyword ListsMost SEM experts are constantly on a mission to find efficient and effective ways to manage their time. The task of building new PPC  campaigns while managing existing ones can be time-consuming, and it is often crucial to find ways to get the job done faster.

PPC Keyword Research

After carefully evaluating a business and its target market, the first steps of building successful PPC campaigns are keyword research and grouping. Generating keywords should be done thoughtfully. You need to know which search terms will trigger the right traffic to your business.

I don’t believe that your keyword list should contain thousand of terms just to make sure you cover all the possible searches. I believe in hand-picking the best terms that deliver good, qualified traffic.

Keyword Match Types

Knowing how to use match types effectively can be key to attracting qualified traffic. There is no need for thousands of keywords.

Automated tools tend to generate long-tail keywords. While those are often good terms, you can simply find the best ones by letting your main keywords run on broad match and then perform a search terms report after your campaign has been running for some time. The search terms report will reveal phrases that attracted your ads.

For example: if “dog toy” is your broad match keyword, you may find in the report keywords like “rubber dog toys,” “buy dog toys online," and “teething dog toys.” You can add and exclude terms as you wish. It’s a big time saver. The only concern is that you want to run broad matched keywords along with negative keywords to prevent irrelevant terms from triggering ads, thereby lowering your CTR as well as your quality score.

Keyword Grouping Tools

Now let’s move to grouping. Keyword grouping is extremely important, because it will determine the structure of your PPC campaign and allow for easy maintenance. Also, good keyword grouping rewards you with a higher quality score.

There are a few keyword tools out there that can help you get your keywords grouped:

Wordstream's free keyword grouper tool is very good, but it has one big flaw: it uses duplicate keywords across ad groups - a big "no no" according to Google. So, if you use it, you still have to delete duplicate keywords, and we are all about saving time aren’t we?

The Google AdWords Editor keyword grouper tool is another option, but it tends to divide your keywords by weird themes sometimes. My example is a group named “and” with all the keywords that include “and” in them, (e.g. heating and cooling, central heat & air, ac and heat, etc.). I felt that Google can do better than that! You can imagine that the quality score of these keywords will be low.

My conclusion: automated tools are great, but they can't replace the brain of a seasoned PPC expert. My experience has taught me that it's great to have tools and use them to get keyword ideas, but when it comes to the actual campaign structuring, I don't want to cut corners with automated tools. With a little bit of practice, creating keyword lists and grouping becomes a second nature.

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