The Ultimate Guide to Google Ads Keyword Research

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In the dynamic realm of online advertising, Google Ads stands as a powerful tool for businesses looking to boost their online visibility and drive targeted traffic to their websites. One of the cornerstones of a successful Google Ads campaign is thorough keyword research. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the intricacies of Google Ads keyword research and explore strategies to propel your campaigns to new heights.

Why is Keyword Research Crucial for Google Ads?

Keyword research is crucial for Google Ads because it directly impacts the success of your ad campaign. By identifying the right keywords, you can ensure that your ads are being shown to the most relevant audience, increasing the likelihood of clicks and conversions. A thorough keyword research process also allows you to discover new, long-tail keywords that your competitors may not be targeting, giving you a competitive edge.

Additionally, understanding the specific words and phrases that potential customers are using in their search queries can help you tailor your ad copy to better match their intentions, leading to higher ad relevance and improved ad quality scores. This can ultimately result in lower costs and higher ad placements, maximising the return on investment for your advertising budget. Without proper keyword research, you may end up wasting valuable resources on targeting the wrong keywords, leading to poor ad performance and missed opportunities for reaching your target audience. 

1. Precision Targeting:

When it comes to keywords whether it’s for SEO or ads it’s all the same with many intents. And that’s search intent, which is the reason why a user types a particular query into a search engine. It represents what the user is trying to achieve with their search, whether that’s finding an answer to a question, looking for a specific website, purchasing a product, or exploring a topic.

This is the purpose of search intent, which is the motivation behind why a user enters a specific search into a search engine. It indicates the user’s goal with their search, whether it’s finding a solution to a problem, seeking a particular website, buying a product, or learning about a topic.

The Four Types of Search Intent

Type of search intent  Meaning  Example 
Navigational intent When a user is looking for a specific page WordPress login page 
Informational intent A user who is looking to learn. This would best sit on a blog or information/educational-based page How to run Google ads
Commercial intent A user who is researching before buying  The best washing machine 
Transactional intent A user ready to take action like purchase Buy iPhone 15 

2. Cost-Effective Advertising 

Conducting keyword research can lead to better ad quality scores, which in turn can result in lower costs per click (CPC) and higher ad placements. This means that you can maximise your advertising budget and gain better visibility for your ads. By focusing on making your ads as relevant as possible, you can attract more qualified leads and ultimately increase your return on investment. With Google Ads keyword research, you can fine-tune your advertising strategy and ensure that you are reaching the right audience without breaking the bank. This makes it a cost-effective and efficient way to advertise your business and drive results. 

3. Improved Relevance

 Google Ads keyword research is essential for improving the relevance of your ad campaigns. By aligning your keywords with ad copy and landing pages, you can create a seamless and relevant user experience that increases the likelihood of conversions. When your keywords directly relate to your ad copy and landing pages, users are more likely to find the information they’re looking for, leading to a higher chance of them taking action, such as making a purchase or filling out a form. By conducting thorough keyword research and ensuring alignment with your ad messaging and landing pages, you can maximise the impact of your Google Ads campaigns and improve the overall performance of your advertising efforts.

Different Types Of Keywords For Google Ads 

When it comes to Google Ads, there are different types of keywords that you can utilise to reach your target audience. There are 4 types of keywords that we will uncover below as this can help to filter out irrelevant traffic and improve the overall performance of the ad campaign. By using a combination of different types of keywords, you can effectively reach your target audience while also minimising wasted ad spend on irrelevant clicks. 

1. Broad Match Keywords 

This keyword is the most general and the least specific, so your ads will appear in search results for related keywords, even if they don’t exactly match the terms you’ve used.

For example, if your keyword is “PPC support,” your ads could appear in searches that include the term “PPC.” This means that if you’re using this keyword to generate leads, your ads may not be relevant to some searches. This type of keyword is best suited for niche industries or if you’re not too concerned about the specific intent of the search and just want to increase visibility.

A broad keyword match allows you to reach a large audience, but the visitors you attract may not be well-targeted, as their search terms are only loosely related to your keyword. 

2. Phrase Match Keywords 

The next keyword option allows for more specificity in search queries. With a phrase match, your ads will appear in searches that closely relate to your keyword or are more specific variations of it. Additional words can come before or after your keyword, but not in the middle. For instance, if your keyword is “PPC support,” your ads may show up for searches like “help me with PPC support” or “PPC support near me.”
Using phrase match may limit your audience, but it ensures that your ads are only displayed in relevant searches, resulting in a more refined audience.

3. Exact Match Keywords 

Next, we have a precise match, which is the complete opposite of a broad match. This type of keyword ensures that only the exact meaning or intent of the keyword is shown, including singular or plural forms, misspellings, abbreviations, and accents.

While this type of keyword will bring more targeted visitors to your site, it also means that your reach will be limited. However, it also means that you will spend less on wasted clicks and attract the right audience to your site. This is especially beneficial in competitive markets where clicks can be expensive.

4. Negative Match Keywords 

 Negative match keywords are a crucial component of any successful Google Ads campaign. By specifying negative keywords, advertisers can ensure that their ads are not shown to users who are not searching for their products or services. For example, if you sell high-end luxury watches, then you may want to use negative keywords such as “cheap” or “affordable” to exclude users who are not interested in spending a significant amount of money on a watch. This can help to improve the overall quality of traffic to the website and prevent wasted ad spend on irrelevant clicks. Negative match keywords also allow advertisers to refine their targeting and reach a more qualified audience, ultimately leading to better leads and conversions. Overall, incorporating negative keywords into a Google Ads campaign is essential for maximising the effectiveness and efficiency of ad spend.

Now that we understand the different types of keywords, how do we indicate to Google which type we want to use?
To specify the type of keyword to Google, you will need to use symbols in front of the keyword. The table below demonstrates this.

When setting up your ad group, this is where you will specify the type of keywords you want to use, learn here all you need to know on How To Set Up Google Ads and What to Expect When Setting Up Google Ads Account.

Keyword Type Keyword  Shows For  How To Implement 
Broad  PPC Support  Searches related to your keyword so can show for just PPC No symbols so implement as: PPC Support 
Phrase PPC Support  Searches with the same meaning so like PPC support near me  Use “ before and after the keyword like “PPC Support”
Exact PPC Support  Searches with the exact meaning or intent like PPC support  Use [ before and after like [PPC Support]
Negatives  SEO Support  These are keywords you dont want to show up for like SEO support  This is managed in Google ads

Steps To Conduct Effective Keyword Research:

1. Identify Business Goals

Identifying business goals is crucial for the success of any business. One way to effectively identify business goals is by aligning keyword research with overarching business objectives. By understanding the specific goals of the business, whether it be brand awareness, lead generation, or direct sales, keyword research can be targeted towards optimising content and driving traffic to support these goals. For example, if the primary goal is increasing brand awareness, the focus will be on creating content that targets high-traffic, informational keywords. On the other hand, if the goal is to generate leads, the focus will shift to targeting transactional keywords with a clear call to action. Ultimately, aligning keyword research with business goals ensures that all marketing efforts are working towards the same end result, maximising the effectiveness and impact of the overall strategy. 

2. Brainstorm Seed Keywords

Generating a list of initial seed keywords related to your products or services is a crucial step in any keyword research strategy. To start, think about the main topics or themes that are relevant to your business. These could include the types of products or services you offer, common problems or pain points that your target audience faces, or industry trends and news. Once you have identified these main themes, you can then start brainstorming specific keywords that are related to each one. This could include product names, descriptive phrases, action words, and terms that are commonly used in your industry.

One helpful tip is to put yourself in the shoes of your potential customers and think about what words or phrases they might use when searching for products or services like yours. 

3. Leverage Keyword Planner

In our other blog How To Set Up Google Ads and What to Expect When Setting Up Google Ads Account we give a step-by-step guide on how to set up and use Google tools such as Google Keyword Planner. This is the go-to tool for carrying out your keyword research for your ads. It will help you to uncover keywords you can target along with the volumes of searches they get, competition and what kind of cost-per-click (CPC) they may incur.

4. Explore Long-Tail Keywords

When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), targeting long-tail keywords can be highly beneficial for businesses looking to reach niche audiences and address specific user queries. Long-tail keywords are longer and more specific phrases that users are likely to use when they are closer to the point of purchase. By targeting these keywords, businesses can attract higher-quality traffic and increase their chances of conversion.

Additionally, long-tail keywords often have lower competition, making it easier for businesses to rank higher in search engine results pages. This means that businesses can focus on catering to the needs of their specific audience and providing them with relevant and valuable content.

5. Competitor Analysis

When it comes to running successful Google Ads campaigns, understanding the strategy and performance of your competitors is crucial. One way to do this is by conducting a thorough competitor analysis, which involves analysing their keywords to identify gaps and opportunities in the market. Tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs can be highly valuable for this step, providing insights into the keywords your competitors are targeting and how they are performing. By identifying the keywords that your competitors are ranking well for, you can gain valuable insights into what is working for them and where there may be opportunities for you to fill in gaps that they may be missing.

Additionally, analysing their ad copy, landing pages, and overall digital presence can provide further insights into their strategy and help you identify areas where you can differentiate and compete effectively. 

Adapting Strategies for Success:

So we have covered why keyword research is crucial for Google ads, the different types of keywords you can target including a dive into search intent and also the steps to conducting Google ads keyword research, so now let’s finish up with how to optimise and adapt your strategies for success. 

1. Regular Review and Updates:

Running ads and as we always emphasise in anything marketing-related, it’s all about testing, measuring and learning. The world is big and full of businesses like yours so you need to stand out and let your little town (AKA website and service/products) stand out. And that means always looking for new opportunities and getting them to work for you. Refine and look at the keywords you have and remove any that aren’t working while also using Google’s Keyword Planner to look for new opportunities and keywords you can target. The world is always changing and especially in digital so always be one step ahead and be ready to make the change. 

2. Testing and Experimentation:

I can’t say it enough, TEST, TEST and TEST! Depending on your budgets maybe start with exact match keywords and broaden out to broad match. These are the keyword types you use, test various ad creatives and copy to see which is getting the best CTR and from this if you are getting high clicks but no conversions look to tweak and test your website in order to get people to convert. Always look to improve your ad quality score while also always at how to measure Google ads performance and make the right changes to improve your campaign performance. And if you feel like you are wasting spend on Google ads then look at the 5 things you could be missing such as quality scores, keywords, budgets and conversions. 


As the digital landscape evolves, mastering Google ads keyword research is a continuous journey. By understanding the intricacies of keyword selection, aligning strategies with business goals, and embracing adaptability, you can unlock the full potential of Google Ads to drive targeted traffic, enhance brand visibility, and achieve your desired outcomes. If you’re ready for Google ads to explode your business and want to get it right the first time around, check out Google ads Audit and set up services or my monthly Google ads management packages to find the best one to suit your budget and needs.