As paid search programs mature, it becomes more and more difficult to achieve incremental increases in traffic and revenue. Consequently, search marketers lean heavily on keyword expansion to drive more traffic in hopes of acquiring more revenue. Subscription-based keyword expansion tools can provide a quick way of generating new keywords, but still require manual effort and often lack granularity. These shortcomings make free keyword expansion tools very attractive. This two part blog series will walk through five free Google tools and provide best practices for maximizing your keyword expansion efforts.
Google Search Term Report
The Google search term (or search query) report is one of the most dependable keyword expansion tools available. Benefits of this report are twofold: marketers can add new keywords based on search terms that are relevant to and perform well in a marketer’s paid search program. Conversely, they can add negative keywords based on search terms that are irrelevant and result in unwanted clicks.
Keep in mind that your current keyword set already captures queries appearing in the search term report. As a result, a new bidding strategy, creative or both, should accompany newly added keywords.
For example, the query “mountain rock climbing” appears in your report as a top search term. It’s currently being captured by the broad match keyword “mountain climbing”, which exists in your account. Simply adding [mountain rock climbing] into your account won’t likely shift performance in one direction or the other. To properly expand into the keyword [mountain rock climbing] and analyze its performance separate from “mountain climbing” you must:
- Create a new group and add [mountain rock climbing]
- Set an aggressive max cost-per-click (CPC) to garner initial impressions and clicks
- Add the negative keyword [mountain rock climbing] into the old “mountain climbing” group
- In your new group, add a creative that includes the token “rock”. This will make your new creative more relevant to the newly added [mountain rock climbing] keyword
For newly added keywords, strategies like the one above can help increase Quality Score and click-through-rate (CTR) while decreasing CPC. As a best practice, use conversion tracking, in addition to cost metrics, to prioritize your keyword expansion opportunities. Just because a search term receives clicks, it doesn’t mean that it results in revenue. Enterprise-class solutions, like Marin Software, seamlessly integrate conversion tracking data with publisher click data to help marketers scale, prioritize and automate their expansion opportunities.
AdWords Help provides a quick walkthrough of how to run a search term report.
Google Keyword Tool
The Google Keyword Tool is a great way of determining potential traffic and competition for new keyword ideas. However, keep in mind that it’s in Google’s best interest for you to add any and all suggested keywords, since this tool favors quantity of keywords over quality of keywords. As a best practice, the Google Keyword Tool should only be used in conjunction with more robust and performance-oriented keyword-expansion tactics such as leveraging organic and paid search query reports.
Before adding a new set of keywords with Google Keyword Tool, utilize some of the tool’s more advanced features:
- Copy and paste your keyword ideas into the Google Keyword Tool and select the appropriate match types
- Select the option “Only show ideas closely related to my search terms”
- Expand the “Advanced Options and Filters” window and configure appropriately
- Under the columns dropdown, select “Approximate CPC (Search)” to reveal Google’s suggested max cost-per-click for each keyword suggestion
- Click “Search” and take note of your “Search terms” results
Consider the Competition, Monthly Search volumes and Approximate CPC when adding new keywords and see if they align with your expansion objectives. For example, did you expect a particular keyword to receive more monthly search volume or cost less than $2 per click? Low-volume, low-competition keywords will likely come with lower CPCs, but may not result in many clicks or conversions. High-volume, high-competition keywords will likely achieve the opposite. Use the Approximate CPC as a benchmark when setting your new keywords’ max CPCs. Enterprise-class tools, such as Marin’s keyword expansion tool, automatically combine Google’s keyword estimations with converting organic and paid search query data, providing marketers with smarter, revenue-driving expansion opportunities.
AdWords Help provides a quick walkthrough of how to use the Google Keyword Tool.
Read Part 2 of our series for three additional Google keyword expansion tools.