Long Term PPC Keyword Expansion: Moving Beyond the Obvious

If you are even just an average PPC manager, you know basic keyword research: brainstorm on some root terms, plug them into a keyword tool and then build out a full keyword list. Every one of us has to start here, but what happens when you need to expand your search campaigns? What happens when you hit the proverbial wall with keyword tools and brainstorming?

This is when it becomes important to develop a long term keyword expansion plan that will help you to pull keyword ideas from numerous resources. There are some obvious starting points. As a refresher, I’ll cover those obvious ideas. However, not all keyword is as simple as a tool or search query report. Sometimes you have to dig deeper to find the hidden keyword gems. Let’s break it down…

“Like Duh!” – Obvious Keyword Expansion Ideas

  • Search Query Reports: If you aren’t reviewing your search query reports in AdWords and Bing Ads – shame on you. Most PPC managers associate SQRs with negative keyword research. But they can also be a gold mine for finding new keywords to build out into ad groups.
  • Analytics – Organic Queries: Similar in nature to your SQRs, hop on into your analytics provider of choice (a la Google Analytics) and review your Traffic Sources > Search > Organic search query data. Find queries that are converting and plug them in as PPC keywords. Of course you should find a balance between your SEO efforts and PPC efforts, but that is a blog post for another day.
  • Site Search: What are your website visitors searching for when they are ON YOUR WEBSITE? This can mean a few things: 1) these are keywords you may want to start bidding on or 2) your website sucks and customers can’t find anything! In case of the latter, you better get crackin’ on a website redesign!
  • New Products / Services: As your client or company adds new products or services, this is a golden – nay, obvious – opportunity to add new keywords to your PPC campaigns.
  • Competitive Tools: Feel like you have reached the end of original ideas and want to peek under the hood of your competitors’ campaigns? Try using a competitive research tool like Compete or SpyFu to see if you have any obvious gaps in your keyword strategy.

“Earning Your Keep” – Not So Obvious Keyword Expansion Ideas

  • What Melissa Mackey Said: Seriously. Everything Melissa wrote here is keyword research gold.
  • What’s Happening on Display?: Tedious? Yes. Worth it? Totally. Review the display placements that converting traffic comes from. Take the time to analyze the websites and specific pages that converting traffic comes from in contextual, topic/category or remarketing campaigns. What is the content of that page/site about? Is there a connection to your product/service? What keywords would lead a person to that page? Test these keywords to drive traffic directly to your website instead.
  • Customer Reviews, Feedback and Questions: Read reviews that customers leave on your website (or product listings in CSEs). Or review feedback / contact us entries from your website. What are people saying about your product/service? What questions are they asking? This insight is tremendously helpful in gleaning new keyword ideas. Specifically, this is a great way to learn how people perceive or use your product/service in a real-world scenario. Keyword gold.
  • Related Web Content: Does your client or company have a blog? Review these posts and see if there are topics/themes that can become keywords. Review information websites like About.com or eHow.com to see what has been written in relation to your product/service. Review question/answer websites like Quora.com and Formspring.com (or even Chacha.com and Ask.com) to see what questions are being asked related to your product/service.

In short, no one ever has an excuse to say that they can’t further expand their PPC keyword targeting for search campaigns. Even if you just keep to the obvious expansion ideas, you can keep yourself busy! But take it to the next level to find those hidden keyword gems!

How do you look for new keyword ideas for long term expansion?

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3 Responses to “Long Term PPC Keyword Expansion: Moving Beyond the Obvious”

  1. Useful post. Noticed how you didn’t include Keyword Ideas under Adwords Opportunities tab. I actually find Opportunities useful – but only for finding negative keywords. Isn’t that ironic.

  2. Dragan,

    The Opportunities Tab is a nightmare, imho. But agree that it is a great place to find negative keywords.

    I still comb through those lists and encourage my team to look at them as well, but with a healthy dose of skepticism and vigilance!

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