Keywords tools. So popular. So easy to use. I’ve even been asked at job interviews how familiar I was with keywords tools.

And let’s be frank…who hasn’t relied on Google Keywords Tool when creating a PPC campaign? I have.

Today I don’t. Actually, I find keyword tools extremely misleading and at times downright wrong. 

1. Intrinsic caveats

When searching for keywords, the available online tools give details about the popularity of the selected keywords, including the number of searches per month, CPA, total cost, and forecast conversions. However, things are not as straightforward as they seem:

  1. Keywords impressions are skewed by PPC campaigns which potentially could increase the forecast campaign cost 
  2. Keywords monthly searches are shown as averages, therefore not taking into account seasonal trends and their impact on the total number of conversions
  3. The number of forecast conversions is based on non-last-click attribution models, therefore not considering the influence of a PPC campaign to driving conversions  
  4. Conversion value doesn’t take into consideration customer lifetime value (LTV)   

2. Extrinsic Caveat

Google Keywords Tool has become extremely more refined since its initial launch. Keywords can be saved into groups, campaigns are recommended, forecast predictions are evaluated based on the keyword match type and the historical data of the account (despite the limitations highlighted in Paragraph 1). However:

  1. Google still doesn’t know your business, therefore cannot recommend the best keywords for your business (yet)
  2. Google doesn’t speak your customer’s language, therefore it cannot recommend what your prospective customers will look for online
  3. Google can show only the monthly average searches, not the frequencies of those keywords typed by your customer

3. From keywords to search intent

Rather than focusing on keywords describing what you are selling, you should focus on what your customer would look for online. Therefore, consider:

  1. Keywords that customers might be using when looking for your product (or service) – customers might not be using the exact terminology (for instance, eye doctor vs ophthalmologist)
  2. If your product solves a specific issue, people might be looking for solutions rather than an exact product (How to cure a migraine naturally?)
  3. Suggested/recommended keywords might not be applicable to your business (sports massage vs Thai sports massage)

4. From keywords to purchase intent

When searching for keywords, any keyword tool won’t take into consideration how your product might indeed solve a person’s issue. What Google will do is to evaluate the match between a keyword, an ad copy, and a landing page. This will establish your QC and determine your CPC. If they don’t match? Your ad will be shown less often or your CPC will raise. 

According to good PPC practice, all 3 should match. And this is true in most cases. However, consider the case in which you want to recommend a product which offers a unique solution, completely different from what your audience is accustomed to. In this case:

  1. Consider what keywords potential customers would look for online (migraine medication)
  2. In your ad copy entice your audience to consider an alternative solution (fed up with medications that don’t stop your migraine?)
  3. Create a landing page that explains why your potential customer could benefit from considering an alternative approach (Almost 70% of migraines are due to tension in the neck – practice these simple exercises to put your migraine out of your head for good*)

*This is a made-up example, designed for explanatory purposes.

5. Keywords optimization

Another downfall of keywords tool is the little emphasis on keyword match and how to optimize campaign budget. A rule of thumb:

  1. Ignore Broad match – unless your keyword is so niche, that only people truly interested in your product would use that word
  2. Start with “Phrase match” – It gives you enough room to understand what people are looking for when typing that query
  3. Don’t underestimate [Exact match] – It keeps the cost down while accepting spelling mistakes, plural, and additional keywords such as location, near me, and descriptive adjectives
  4. Invest your time in creating a well rounded Negative Keywords List

6. Keywords location, device, audience

Finally, keywords tools don’t help you optimize your campaign based on location, device or type of audience. Relying only on keywords tools means painting just half of a picture. 

  • Are all your chosen keywords valid in every store? Exclude locations where specific keywords do not apply 
  • Is your audience active on mobile? If not, exclude mobile from your campaign (decrease bidding by 100%). Do you get traffic but not conversions on tablets? If so, use tablets to nurture your audience before converting. All conversions come from desktops? You can invest some extra budget
  • Do you serve only a restrict group of people? Exclude any audience segment that is not your audience based on age, income, behavior. 

TL;DR

Focus less on keywords and more on:

  • Your customers’ problems and issues
  • Your product and how it can solve your customer’s needs
  • Your customers’ language and word choices
  • The gap between your audience knowledge and your product benefits

Only when you have truly comprehended your customers’ needs and how to communicate your solution to them, you’ll have an effective PPC campaign.

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