How To Develop Keyword Lists for Adwords and Pay-Per-Click Campaigns


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Coming up with really good long-tail keywords for your SEO or pay-per-click campaigns can sometimes be daunting if you don’t understand how buyers use Google, what buying cycle they are in, and how your content or offers align with those search terms people use to look for what you do.

Marketers must really understand their audience’s needs in order to provide something of value that can lead to a conversion. Therefore, that pay-per-click ad must align with the keyword phrase, as well as the landing page offer, for better paid search optimization. When ads do not align with the search query, click through rates are reduced, quality scores are reduced, cost-per-click increases, ad rank is reduced, and the campaign performs poorly.

So you really have to plan for your keyword strategy. It’s not just the tools, but it’s also speaking with customers, and many times, common sense. In fact, there are a number of ways to research keywords such as:

  • As stated, speaking with clients and customers
  • Reviewing competitive sites (and tools such as Spyfu)
  • Your organic keywords obtained from your analytics program
  • Google’s keyword research tool
  • Other third party keyword research tools
  • Industry research and news websites
  • Social media monitoring
  • General internal brainstorming- review all of your products and services- what do they do, what problems do they solve, what type of buyer needs them?

If you have multiple target audiences (industry and or job title), make a list of these personas. Job titles may have different needs for the same solutions. C-level audiences have bottom-line thinking. Mid-managers are more into specific features or benefits (efficiency, cost-savings, and productivity). Keywords, landing pages, and offers need to address these audiences within specific paid search campaigns.

When it comes to buying cycles, your campaigns need to address needs throughout the funnel. The typical stages are:

  • Awareness. Your potential customers don’t know you exist. You need to target them to get their attention.
  • Research. Potential customers not only know you exist but have shown an interest in learning more about products or solutions.
  • Purchase. These people have a good idea about what they want and are ready to purchase.

Therefore long tail keyword phrases should align with the stages above.

Now let’s have a little keyword research fun. When I gather my seed keywords for my client’s campaigns, I match with appropriate complementary keywords as below, and then turn those phrases into modified broad, phrase, and exact matches, using a tool I’ll share later.

For the below, let’s use my firm, NuSpark Marketing, as an example, and one of my services, pay-per-click strategy, as search queries.

For each group (which can emulate Google ad groups), I show a sample actual search query, and a modified broad match (denoted by a plus sign) that is the keyword format included in my ad groups. A modified broad match is when a search engine query includes all of the keywords in your keyword phrase with a plus sign. It’ll make sense as you read the examples below.

Awareness Phase: Seed keywords focus in what your prospects’ needs are

Offer: Educational white paper

Group One:

  • How to
  • Why does
  • Ways to
  • Looking for

Actual query: How to improve pay-per-click results

Modified broad match keyword in Adwords: +How +To +Pay +per +click

Group Two:

  • Tips
  • Techniques
  • Ideas
  • Improving

Actual query: Pay-per-click optimization techniques

Modified broad match keyword in Adwords: +Pay +per +click +techniques

Group Three:

  • Pdfs
  • Powerpoints
  • Presentations
  • Articles
  • White papers
  • Blogs
  • Research

Actual query: Articles on Pay-per-click management

Modified broad match keyword in Adwords: +Pay +per +click +articles

Group Four:

  • Results
  • Performance
  • Process
  • Productivity
  • Success
  • Effectiveness

Actual query: Improving Pay-per-click results

Modified broad match keyword in Adwords: +Pay +per +click +results

Research Phase: Seed keywords focus in what your company does or is

Offer: Trials, Demos. Benefit-focused copy

Group Five:

Actual query: Top Pay-per-click firms that focus on lead generation

Modified broad match keyword in Adwords: +Pay +per +click +top

Group Six:

  • Reviews
  • Opinions
  • Case studies
  • Advice

Actual query: Review of pay-per-click firms in Philadelphia

Modified broad match keyword in Adwords: +Pay +per +click +reviews

Group Seven:

  • List
  • Search
  • Directory
  • Guide

Actual query: List of B2B pay-per-click lead generation firms

Modified broad match keyword in Adwords: +Pay +per +click +list

Group Eight:

  • Solutions
  • Software
  • Programs
  • Tools
  • Platforms
  • Services

Actual query: Pay-per-click programs for b2b businesses

Modified broad match keyword in Adwords: +Pay +per +click +programs

Group Nine:

  • Companies
  • Firms
  • Agencies
  • Vendors
  • Consultants

Actual query: Pay-per-click firms that specialize in b2b

Modified broad match keyword in Adwords: +Pay +per +click +firms

Group Ten- For specific industries you cover. List those industries in your research.

Industry specific

Actual query: Pay-per-click software for the accounting industry

Modified broad match keyword in Adwords: +Pay +per +click +for +”industry”

Purchase Phase

Ad/Offer: Discounts, Promotions

Group Eleven

  • Affordable
  • Cheap
  • Discount
  • Buy
  • Purchase
  • Sale
  • Prices
  • Deals
  • Clearance

Actual query: Where to buy pay-per-click software

Modified broad match keyword in Adwords: +Pay +per +click +buy

Below is a concatenate tool we use at NuSpark Marketing that helps us create and manage keywords, by merging terms for up to 4 themes, and outputting exact, phrase, broad, modified broad and negative matches. After we enter the seed keywords and the complementary terms as listed above, we output very specific long-tail keywords for the appropriate ad groups.


In a nutshell, when planning pay-per-click or paid search campaigns, you need to put a lot of thought into your strategy; determine what terms people use to consider, research, and purchase your products, and offer unique content and offers that best match those search queries within those buying stages. This process is crucial for optimizing a lead generation pay-per-click campaign. We’ll get to negatives keywords in a future post.

What do you think of this process? What works for you?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Paul Mosenson
Owner of NuSpark Marketing Helps B2B and B2C companies market themselves through integrated tactics, (traditional advertising, internet advertising, SEO, social media), conversions, and sales through lead nurturing/marketing automation.


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