Keyword Research For PPC

This page on how to do keyword research for Pay per Click (PPC) is very much aimed at anyone building a PPC campaign who needs to know the basics of keyword research. This could apply to platforms such as Google AdWords or Microsoft's Bing Ads.

​What is Keyword Research?

A keyword applies to any word or phrase used as a search query. Understanding what people are looking for, the popularity of that keyword and how competitive it is, are all vital to know before setting about building a PPC campaign.

We typically start with a seed list from a client and then use the processes shown below to develop a huge list of keywords that then get split into positive and negative* keywords. A seed list is really no more than your initial ideas; try to think about words and phrases you think someone would use to look for your business then let the research confirm or disprove. 

*A negative keyword basically acts as a stop word, i.e. if used as part of a search query, prevents your advert from showing. This is important as it not only saves budget being wasted on irrelevant clicks but also improves your AdWords or Bing Ads account performance by saving wasted impressions (searches) and boosting your Click through Rate (CTR). Back to keywords...

Keyword Match Types

Both AdWords and Bing Ads use a system of match types that get applied to keywords. Understanding these is vital for anyone building PPC campaigns. This presentation covers the how each type works.

When conducting your keyword analysis, keep in mind match types and think about the context in which a keyword or phrase could be used.

Keyword Research Tutorials

Any online marketing campaign should start with researching the keywords for that particular market.

This is simply a way of understanding the keywords that are used in a sector in terms of type of queries, the search volume and how competitive a keyword might be.

There are lots (believe me!) of tools for keyword research online. Some free. Some paid. A good starting point for most people would be Google’s own Keyword Planner tool. This is free resource made available to AdWords account holders.

This first video gives an overview of how to use the AdWords Keyword Planner.

Google AdWords Keyword Planner – Video Introduction​

  • 1:32 – Keyword Search
  • 4:30 – Download Keywords
  • 5:00 – Sorting with Excel
  • 7:30 – Filtering Keywords

The Keyword Planner tool can be accessed from within your AdWords account under 'Tools' or via this link -

Merging Multiple Keyword Files

As highlighted in the previous video, one of the constraints with the AdWords Keyword Planner tool is that you are restricted to downloading 800 keywords at a time.

This video demonstrates how to quickly merge multiple CSV files to get a single spreadsheet for further sorting and analysis of your keywords:​

This is the merge data command line referenced in the video above:

copy *.csv importfile.csv

Just type that into a text editor and save as 'merge.bat' into the folder where you save your CSV keyword files.​

If you are looking for specific help with Google AdWords, try our AdWords video tutorials

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