Best Practices For Building Your PPC Keyword List


Ready to start conquering the world of Pay Per Click Advertising?  Here are some best steps to ensure that your money will be spent where it will be most useful.

  1. Brainstorm all possible keywords first.

Enter all possible keywords into an Excel spreadsheet.  In this step, there are no wrong answers.  The goal is to come up with a list of as many keywords as possible.  To find these keywords, follow these steps:

  • Check out your website.  Read over all the content on your website.  Enter any key words or phrases that describe your products or your brands.
  • Think about your brand.  Are there any “branded” search terms that customers might use to find your brand?  Branded keyword advertising offers some of the highest Click-Through Rates, so don’t neglect it.
  • Think about your customers.  If you were trying to find a business like yours, what would be your search terms.  Write down anything that comes to mind.
  • Take a look at your competitors’ websites.  Particularly, take a look at their site maps, those rarely seen pages written almost exclusively for Google bots.  Take down any keywords in the site map links that pop out at you. However, make sure to note in another column that these are your competitors’ targeted keywords, as they will likely be already targeted by your competitors’ PPC advertising.
    2. Research your keywords

On the same spreadsheet, compile as much data as possible on your keywords.  There are enough free keyword analysis tools that you may never need to purchase one.  In particular, you can use Yahoo! trend analyses, AdCenter, and a whole suite of tools from Google: Webmaster Tools, Keyword, Insights, Trends, etc.  Try to fill out at least three data fields for each keyword: Global Hits, Local Hits, and Change from Last Month.  Add more data fields if you feel they are necessary.
3. Vet your keywords

Save a backup copy, then vet your keywords.  I find the best way to start narrowing them down is use Autosort to arrange then in ascending order by either Global Searches or Local Searches, whichever is more important for your business.  Then, go through the keywords one by one from lowest to highest.

The reason that you should go through them one by one rather than just deleting the bottom 75% of keywords is that Searches aren’t everything.  There probably aren’t a lot of searches for the keyword “Red Deer Alberta Used Luxury Car Dealership,” but if you’re a used luxury car dealership in Red Deer, those searches are very likely going to end in a sale.  You want to find search terms that are used regularly by a fair number of people, that are growing rather than shrinking, and are about specifically the goods and products that you sell.  Any other terms is a waste of your money.
4. Monitor your campaigns

You should be left with a lean but effective keyword list.  Start advertising and see how they do.  Every month, cut any keywords that are have a CTR lower than 0.25 or a sales rate that doesn’t cover the cost of clicks.  Then, go back to your backup master list and start the process of finding keywords again.  A marketer’s work is never done.

Ryan is the Paid Search Manager at TechWyse Internet Marketing. Prior to joining TechWyse he spearheaded paid search initiatives for Staples Canada. You can find more of writing pay per click musings at

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