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How to do an efficient keyword research for your Google ad

Keyword research forms a major role in the success of your Google ads strategy. Find out how to do an efficient one. (updated to the latest changes in 2024).

Why is it important:

Google Ads is an essential part of any successful business. Keyword research is the foundation for any successful Google Ads strategy. It provides insights into what words and phrases are most popular among users searching for products or services like yours, as well as which keywords have the highest competition rate or cost-per-click (CPC). With keyword research, you can also discover how specific keywords help people find your business online and how they convert.

By understanding the terms and phrases people use when looking for businesses like yours, you can use them in your campaigns to target exactly the right audience and increase the chances of potential customers finding your ads. You can then refine your keyword list by testing different variations of keywords to see which ones give you the best results.

Things required before you start:

    • You should have an existing personal Google account with the necessary login information (email address, password).
    • You need to have an already set Google Ads account, and if you haven’t done it yet, then follow our guide to do so.

Steps to do efficient keyword research for your Google ad

Step 1: Identify your campaign goals

Before starting your keyword research, you should have a clear idea of your campaign goals. Are you looking to drive traffic to your website, generate leads, increase sales, or build brand awareness? This will help you narrow down your keyword list and choose the most relevant keywords for your campaign.

For e.g., If your main target for the Google ad campaigns is conversion, it is always good to go for the keywords with the maximum buyer’s intent and mostly for the Phrase or Exact keyword match type. If you plan to start the Google ads campaign focused on brand awareness and testing the keywords, then you can focus on generic and broad match keywords.

Step 2: Create a seed list of keywords

Start by creating a seed list of keywords that are relevant to your business and campaign goals. Think about the products or services you offer, as well as the needs and interests of your target audience. This will help you use Google’s Keyword Planner correctly to generate a list of related keywords based on your seed list.

You can also look at free online tools like the following to generate a list of seed keywords which later you can refine and add using Google Keywords Planner.

  1. Ahrefs Keyword Generator : Though this is not a fully free tool, it can be extremely helpful in finding the list of seed keywords. You just need to select Google as the search engine, type in your main keyword theme, and select the location. Once done, then press the “Find Keywords” button.

Ahref keyword tool Exploring the Ahref keyword tool

2. Answer the public: Again, might not be a fully free tool, but it gives you 3 Free searches per day and can be a vital tool for searching the list of questions related to your main keywords that people are searching for. This can help a lot in defining a list of your seed long-tail keywords.

Simply key in the keyword, select the location, and click on the Search button.

Answer the public - keyword research tool

You get an invaluable report on the related questions, preposition combinations, comparisons, etc.

get charts and data in the Answer the public - keyword research tool

3. Google Trends: This is a completely free tool by Google and can be used to search for keyword trends across locations and related keywords.

Simply type in the keyword and click the search icon.

Google trends explorer

Once you are on the report page, you can set the location to different values based on where you want to explore the trend in.

Data searcher for the Google trends explorer

You can get the related search queries under the segment.

Google trends explorer results

Step 3: Analyze your competitors: Check out what keywords your competitors are targeting. This can help you identify gaps in your keyword strategy and find new opportunities. You can use tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs to analyze your competitor’s website and find the keywords they are ranking for. But most of them are paid ones. For a better and more detailed way of analyzing your competitor’s Google ads strategy for free, follow our guide “How to analyze your competitor’s Google ads strategy”.

Step 4: Refine your keyword list: Now that you have a list of potential seed keywords, it’s time to add and refine your list. You need to find related keywords, remove any irrelevant or low-traffic keywords, and focus on the ones that have high search volume and are most relevant to your campaign goals. Now, let’s use Google’s Keyword Planner to get data on search volume and competition level for each keyword and to help in the refining process.

Go to the Google Ads website.

And click on the Sign In button at the top right corner of the screen.

You need to be logged in to your Google account associated with the ads account you are trying to access to be able to successfully login in the next step.

Google ads website sign in

Note: If you have multiple Google ads account already set on your Google account, then you will see the following screen after you click on “Sign In” and click on the Google ads account that you want to log into.

select your google ads account

If you have only one Google ads account associated with your Google profile, you will be automatically logged into the account after you click on “Sign In” in Step -4.

Step 5: On the top menu, click on “Tools and settings”, and then from the dropdown, expand the menu item “Planning”.

google ads planning segment

Important Note: If you are not able to find the necessary links or buttons (as shown here) at the top menu of your Google Ads account, then you might have been, by default, switched to the new design of your Google Ads account. Though the new design looks good but since it’s still in the experimental phase, the UI might get complicated or erroneous, so we will recommend that for the time being you can simply switch back to the more stable older version.

To do so, please go to the option “Appearance” at the top menu, and from the dropdown, click on “Use previous design”.

Switching to old design

Step 6: Under the planning menu item, click on “Keyword Planner”.

Google keywords planner link

Step 7: Since you currently have seed keywords with you at this stage, you need to select “Discover new keywords” on the next screen.

Discover new keywords

Step 8: You will get two options now, i.e. either start searching related keywords by your seed list of keywords or you can generated related keywords through your website copy as well.

Select the first tab, i.e., “Start with keywords”.

Start with keywords

Step 9: Type in your seed keywords under the required section and hit Enter after each keyword entered to separate it out.

Adding new keywords (seed keywords)

Step 10: The location for the keyword search needs to be set to the desired location you are targeting your audience from. To do so, click on the default location given at the bottom of the keyword section.

Changing the correct location for keyword research

On the next screen, type in the country name and click on “Target” next to the correct one from the dropdown list.

Adding the correct location for keyword research

Make sure to remove the default one if it is not required in the keyword research by clicking on the “X” button next to the country name.

Country deletion

Step 11: You need to make sure to change the language from the default one to the required one for your target location and your audience.

Click on the default language under the keywords list.

Language selection

And from the pop-up click on the required language.

Step 12: One done, you might want to add your website’s URL to filter out irrelevant keywords, then click on Get Results.

Get results

Step 13: On the next screen you will get the close the Refine keywords option of the right side of the screen and focus on the top three columns and the data that you need to look into.

Exploring the Google keywords planner

  1. The keyword
  2. Average monthly search
  3. Competition – High/Medium/Low

Step 14: If you scroll down on the list, you will see that apart from the seed list of keywords you entered, you are now shown an additional set of relevant keywords.

How to select the best-suited keywords for your business:

Note: Every business has specific needs, and every audience segment also defines the keywords to be selected. So, the best judge for this is you, and no other guide can completely give you tips on selecting the best keywords out of the list. But here are some best practices you can look into:

  1. Look for relevant keywords that have high search volume and medium/low level of competition. Also, check their top-of-page bid (high/low) to ensure they are within your budget range.
  2. Look for keywords that have high search intent like “healthy meals near me” is a keyword that is of high search interest. If such keywords have less average monthly searches, too, then also include them in the list.
  3. Look for long-tail keywords that are highly relevant to your business. Long tail keywords are keywords that comprise more than 4 words and can also be focused on a user query/question.
  4. Select only the most relevant and buyer intent-focused keywords with high search volume and high competition.

Step 15: To select the keywords, click on the checkbox next to each keyword.

Selecting the right keywords

Step 16: Once done, click on the “New ad group” dropdown and type in a new ad group name and click on “Create”.

Creating a new ad group

Step 17: Once done, click on Ad keywords.

Adding the keywords to the ad group

Step 18: Once done, click on the “Forecast” option on the left menu panel of the screen.

Checking the forecast results

Step 19: On this screen, firstly ensure that the location is displayed correctly for the forecast. It usually defaults to the ad account’s location.

To change it, you can click on the location and select the required one from the dropdown.

Location check Location check for the forecast

You can now adjust the daily budget, goal, and monthly budget to see the estimated results vary accordingly.

Forecast results

Step 20: Once done and you have decided on a daily budget that you want to use. Click on the download icon at the top right corner of the screen, and from the list, select “.csv”.

Downloading the details

Step 21: You will now have the forecasted results and keywords in the required CSV file.

Keywords csv file

Step 22: Group your keywords

Next, the other most important part of the keyword research process is grouping the keywords under relevant themes.

Group your keywords into relevant themes or categories. This will help you create more targeted ad groups and improve the relevance of your ads. For example, if you sell shoes, you can group your keywords into categories like running shoes, dress shoes, casual shoes, etc.

Step 23: Monitor and optimize your keywords

The process of keyword research doesn’t end at the previous step.

Once your campaign is up and running, monitor your keyword performance regularly. Use Google Analytics or Google Ads to track your keyword performance and adjust as needed. You may need to add or remove keywords, adjust your bids, or change your ad copy to improve your campaign’s performance.

Tips and Tricks:

  • Use negative keywords to exclude irrelevant traffic and improve the relevance of your ads. To know more about the process of adding negative keywords then follow our guide.
  • Consider using keyword modifiers like “best”, “cheap”, or “top-rated” to target specific audiences.
  • Look for long-tail keywords that include location-based phrases to target local customers.
  • Don’t rely solely on broad match keywords. Use phrase match or exact match keywords to target more specific searches. For example, a keyword with high buyer intent and medium/low level of average searches should be used as an exact match type.

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