PPC Keyword research is part science and part art. It’s about using the myriad tools at your disposal, but also understanding your customers and predicting which terms they’re actually typing into the search box. 

That’s the best way to ensure that your ads show up at the right time and in the right place: when they’re searching for the kinds of products or services you offer.

PPC keyword research is the first step in using pay-per-click advertising programs like Google Adwords to drive targeted traffic to your company’s website.

Read also: What is Google Ads and the Reason Why You Should Use It

For most organizations, PPC research is an important resource for online lead generation. The catch is that it requires a certain level of expertise to ensure that your paid search digital advertising program is targeting words and phrases that connect with desired audiences and marketing guide segments.

How Do You Do Keyword Research for PPC Campaigns?

Google pretty much always gets it right. There’s a reason they’re the top search engine and their incredibly smart algorithms are pretty much always on-point when it comes to giving you the results you’re searching for.

Read also: SEO Keyword Tools for Better and Quick Results Malaysia

But every now and then, you might see an ad and pause for a minute to scratch your head.

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PPC keyword research is the only way to know which keywords you should choose and while there are multiple steps involved, the process is simple. Here are 5 tips for keyword research for your campaigns.

Brainstorming a PPC Keyword List

The very first part of the process is brainstorming. You write down all the terms that you think your audience might be searching for when they want to come across you, your products or something like your products.

It can be a little overwhelming trying to think of the right keywords with no organization, so it’s best to break down keywords into sections and create lists from there. This will ensure that you cover your bases and that you don’t miss anything.

Branded Keywords

Branded keywords refer to two different things here: keywords with your own brand, and keywords with your competitors branding.

For example, if you’re selling protein shakes and you know that your customers may be familiar with a big name like Orgain, you can actually target the “Orgain shakes” as a keyword. That way when your customers search for them, you have a chance that they’ll come across you, too, in a high ad position. This can help you stay competitive and even nab a few customers along the way.

Product Specific Keywords

In many cases, customers might not care much about a brand, but are interested in finding a specific service or product (think me and that dentist). 

Having a list of product-specific or service-specific features that includes a number of variant keywords covering different searches will benefit you.

High-Intent Keywords

You have touched on high-intent searches briefly above, but high-intent keywords can take different forms. They are, essentially, keywords that indicate that users are far along in the buying process and pretty much ready to find something relatively quickly. 

If you’re able to catch these users, they’re actively shopping and not just idly browsing out of curiosity for that house that they might buy in two years.

Feature-Specific Keywords

Feature-specific keywords can also be high-intent, but they don’t necessarily have to be. These keywords focus on different key aspects of a product, service, or brand that they’re looking for.

Check out Your Competitors

You must see what your clients’ competitors are up to. You can learn a lot from what other people in the industry are doing, and can even see what keywords they’re bidding most on, what they’re ranking for, and more.

One of the best tools for competitor PPC keyword research is SpyFu, but there are other great ones out there.

You can immediately see the full list of PPC keywords they’re targeting, what they’re paying per click, what they’re paying per month, their ad position, and the searches they’re appearing in. You can even take a look at the timeline their ads are running.

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Look for high-value keywords that you could benefit from and what they’re spending. If you’re willing to outbid them for that number one spot and always steal some high-value traffic, good on you. Write down the keywords that you see here, adding them to the brainstorming list.

Expand and Refine Your List with Keyword Research Tools

Armed with a decent list of terms to bid on, the next step is to use the keyword research tools at your disposal to determine which keywords to keep, and which to drop. 

It’s not enough to just go on your gut, keyword tools help you zero in on the terms that people are actually typing into search engines. There are dozens of tools to give you insights into how popular certain keywords are.

Each keyword tool is a little different, but the key stat you’re looking for is search volume. The higher the search volume, the more people are searching for that given term per month.

Sorting and Organizing Your PPC Keywords

By now you should have a pretty impressive keyword list. It’s now time to sort your list into small, targeted groups of keywords that are closely related to each other. These groupings will correspond to your ad groups in Google Ads.

The tighter and more focused your ad groups are, the easier it will be to :

  • Measure the performance of each keyword
  • Prune or expand your lists if necessary
  • Create highly specific and relevant ads

Well-organized campaigns have more relevance, and higher relevance leads to higher Quality Scores, which simultaneously increase your ad rankings and reduce what you pay for each click and each conversion. 

Healthy PPC content accounts always have healthy Quality Scores, and strong keyword organization can go a long way toward improving your scores.

Add Negative Keywords

As you create your keyword list, don’t forget about negative keywords. These are the search terms that you don’t want your ads to show up for, and they’re an important part of any campaign, because they help control costs and keep your ad targeting as relevant as possible.

The main reason to include negative keywords is to prevent your ads and by extension your brand from showing up alongside search queries that are irrelevant or offensive.

For example, a seller of high-end furniture would want to target affluent customers, and would add terms like “cheap” and “free” to the negatives list to prevent their ads from appearing alongside those terms. 

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You’ll also want to rule out impressions on terms that are similar to but not really related to your business such as hair dryer if you sell home appliances including washers and dryers.

PPC Keyword Research Tips for Best Result

Here are the tips that you should know!

Consider Keyword Match Type

The effectiveness of the keywords you choose could be directly impacted by the keyword match type you select.

For example, lets Google leave things open to their own interpretation. Exact match, on the other hand, may limit you from great potential placements. You can read more about match types here and see what’s right for you.

Don’t Forget Negative Keywords

The negative keywords you choose are almost as important as everything else we’ve done on this list. They can keep you from appearing in irrelevant searches and (even worse) from getting irrelevant clicks. 

If you’re selling artificial Christmas trees, for example, but you’re getting clicks from people looking for trees they can chop down themselves, just add a “real Christmas tree” or “fresh Christmas tree” to your negative keyword list. You’ll no longer appear in those searches.

Know That Not All Strategies Are Worth Copying

Copying other strategies isn’t always the right option. Competitor research can be a goldmine of knowledge, but if you see that a competitor is spending a lot on certain keywords that likely wouldn’t benefit you much but would cost a ton, think twice before adding it to your list.


PPC keyword research might be the most important part of the strategy guide to your PPC campaign, so take the time to get it right. Even though the research process involves multiple steps, you can create multiple ad groups in one sitting and benefit from the data long-term.

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