How to choose the right keywords for your PPC campaign

When you do your keyword research at the start of a PPC campaign there a number of different factors to consider – and they aren’t always the same things you look at for SEO purposes. The key differences between the two techniques means that your focus can be slightly different for PPC strategies, although there will of course be a lot of overlap in the lists of target words and phrases.

The primary factors that will drive your decision in which keywords to target are financial – how much spare cash you currently have, and your current profit margin on website sales. The answers to these two questions will drive how much risk you can take – and conversely, the rewards you can chase. They will also decide how competitive your keywords can be.

Pay Per Click Management

Of course you will always want to chase after any keywords you can find that are high traffic and low competition. The reality, however, is that in most industries any high traffic keywords have a lot of companies chasing the clicks, which drives up the average bid. If you do happen to find some, however, jump on them straight away.

Working out your investment

When you are working out how competitive you can afford to be in PPC, it helps to already have an idea of how many visitors to your website generally progress to a sale. You will be able to see how many visitors you get through Google Analytics, and you will of course already have a record of sales.

Next, work out your total revenue from web sales and calculate your profit margin. You then divide profits through the website by overall visitor numbers, to work out how much each individual visit is currently worth. Then, decide what percentage of that profit you are prepared to give Google in return for more visits.

While there are complicating factors (for example, buying prominence on Google will lead to a lot more website visits) this is essentially how you figure out the potential benefits of PPC. If you make a lot of profit from each web sale you might be prepared to invest more into your PPC campaign, while if you generally get a lot of visitors for little revenue return then you should be a bit more cautious.

Choosing keywords with a large budget

PPC keyword planning

If you have the budget to play around and experiment a bit then you can chase keywords with a high level of traffic – even if you aren’t 100% relevant. For example, if you sell surf wear like wetsuits and bikinis then you might target “surfboards” as a PPC keyword, on the basis that the market for boards are also in the market for surf clothing. If you do this you just have to make certain that your meta tags describe exactly what you are selling so that people wanting just a surfboard don’t go looking for them on your website!

You can also offer large bids to try and chase the highest traffic (and therefore most competitive) search phases for your PPC campaign. The clicks from these will cost you a reasonable amount, but will also generate the most traffic for your website. If you pick the keywords carefully then this can be a good strategy to raise your revenue substantially.

More conservative keywords

If you’re looking to be careful with your spend and generate the largest ROI (rather than most revenue) then you should be picking the most specific keywords you can, even if they are low traffic. Going back to the surf wear shop example, if you operate an outlet in Manly then targeting “bikini Manly” can pay dividends despite the limited appeal of the search – because everyone who sees and clicks on the ad is looking for exactly what you are selling.

When you set up a PPC campaign your budget will largely dictate how aggressive you can be with your keywords. If you have a large budget you will be able to compete for the most commonly searched terms, while a smaller spend will necessitate finding less common keywords. You also need to remember that while being very specific will bring you a high ROI, it will probably not result in a great deal of actual revenue.