Panning for Keyword Gold (continued)

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In my last post, I defined six ways why keyword selection is so important to the success of pay-per-click marketing. Today, I will finish with explaining the final three “ways” including:

  1. Setting performance tracking requirements
  2. Establishing competitive parity
  3. Generating early buying stage exposures (branding)


Depending on how you select your keywords (e.g. broad versus exact match), your performance tracking process may require adjustments. If you choose an exact match then tracking is straight-forward; however, using broad match complicates the process. It makes it more difficult to quickly determine which actual keyword generated an action due to the expanded associations. Tracking “broad-match” keyword performance requires a combination of analyzing web logs, analytics and conversion tracking. Always pay close attention to broad match performance and if top performing keywords are identified, break them out of the broad match for better tracking.

At times, you may prefer not to bid on a certain keyword yet are forced to due to competitive parity. If a primary keyword attracts a great number of information gathers (early stage of a person’s buying process) and all of your competitors are present then you must also expose your products or services. Why? If your product or service is not among the possible alternatives (defined by the buyer’s search) and added to their list of buying alternatives, you may be overlooked during the purchasing decision. In essence, a customer can’t buy, if they don’t know you exist.

The final item follows through on the concept expressed above but form a different angle. People work through a “non-linear” buying process. In general, the process starts with acknowledging a need then moves to gathering information about how that need can be satisfied. If alternatives are found then the process moves into evaluation of alternatives, a purchasing decision (how do I buy from X) and finally a purchase. The process also continues even after the purchase.

For paid search purposes, the buying process outlines a time line to map keyword selection. In my last post I used an example from one of my franchise clients. In the earlier information gathering stage, general keywords like “franchise opportunity” and “home-based business” favorably target people seeking a lay of the franchise market. More specific keywords like “senior care franchise” or “find senior care franchise” works well to target evaluators who understand what market they want but aren’t yet familiar with the main players in that market. Keywords using the brand name or ones with the actions like “buy x franchise” work effectively for later stage searches. Although, this isn’t the best example since most franchise purchasing decisions take 30 to 60 days (or more) and are not impulsive buys. However, in a consumer market, “buy apple ipod” or “purchase Toshiba laptop,” or “free shipping keurig k—cup coffee” are realistic keywords to bid on for late stage purchasing decisions.

Overall, keyword selection plays a more crucial role in the performance of pay-per-click marketing than many businesses may fully appreciate. Think through your keyword selection process carefully if you want to achieve greater performance.

About the Author

Kevin Gold is Director of Internet Marketing at iNET Interactive, a social media company operating prominent online communities for technology professionals and technology enthusiasts. Kevin is a frequent contributing author to multiple publications including Search Marketing Standard, Practical eCommerce, DIRECT, Entrepreneur.com, ConversionChronicles.com, About.com, and On Target (Yahoo! Search Marketing newsletter).

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  1. An accounts success depends on Keyword Expansion. Keyword Expansion is not simply adding Keywords to your account, it is researching the best Keywords that describe your products/services and knowing what your competitors are bidding on that Keyword that makes a solid Keyword List. There are a lot of Keyword Research Tools in the market, some for free some on a monthly subscription basis which can be used to generate a solid Keyword List. Search for Keyword Research Tools on Google, Yahoo, or MSN & you should see a lot of options to choose from. Segmenting Keyword Expansion: * Keyword Research: Always research traffic volume for Keywords related to your product/service before adding them to your account - Caution: High volume Keywords are good to bid on, however, be aware of your accounts Conversion Rate, & don’t expect 100% Conversion - which means it is good to be a little conservative when setting Max. CPCs for such high volume terms as they have a tendency to burn through budgets quickly and before you know it, you will end up with a high Negative ROI * Misspellings: It is good practice to add misspellings to your Keyword List - Example: I have seen conversions from Keywords like caars (cars); & motgage (mortgage) * Competitive Research: Some Keyword Research Tools show what competitors are bidding on. Good place to begin this would be to use Google Keyword Research Tool and simply adding your competitors domain to generate a lit of Keywords from their website * Short Tail & Long Tail Keywords: Good strategy to include both, even though more often than not Long Tail Keywords tend to have less volume and therefore lower conversions

  2. Couple of other Keyword Expansion Tactics: 1. Google’s Search Query Report: This report shows any and every possible variation of Keywords that triggered your add and generated traffic. - This report can be used to identify potential keyword that could be added to your negative keywords list. - This report also helps identify potentially new keywords that triggered your ads and generated traffic but are not a part of your current keyword list. 2. Keyword Expansion based on Conversion Rate: Identify keywords with the heighest conversion rate and try to make variations of those keywords. Example: - Keyword: Search Engine Marketing - Variations: Search Marketing, Engine Search Marketing, Marketing Search Engine etc.