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Google Ads Keyword Research Guide for Beginners

Navigating the maze of Google Ads can be difficult, but the key lies in mastering keyword research. 

This Google Ads keyword research guide provides you with everything you need to truly understand keyword research

Here’s what we’ll cover:

A Brief Glimpse into My Ad Odyssey

Let’s take a moment to stroll down memory lane. 

Imagine a bustling marketplace, a symphony of chatter and deals, with marketers competing for attention. 

That marketplace? Google Ads. 

But for someone diving in headfirst without a map, it’s like trying to navigate the complex web of New York’s streets without Spiderman’s agility.

My Maiden Voyage

I began like many – naive. Driven by a blend of curiosity and ambition, I set up my first PPC (Pay-Per-Click) campaign, expecting instant success.

But instead of applause, I was met with crickets.

It was a cacophony of misguided keywords, and missed opportunities.

  • SEO and PPC: Two Sides of the Same Coin
    • At the heart of digital marketing are these twin behemoths. While SEO offered a steady pace of organic growth, PPC promised rapid results, a way to soar the digital skies. Both had their merits, but for my journey, the thrill of PPC was irresistible.
  • Building Blocks of Google Ads Campaigns:
    • Creating Google Ads campaigns wasn’t just about throwing in a bunch of keywords. It was about weaving a story, crafting an experience for potential clients, and making sure each ad resonated with its intended audience.

Lessons from the Field

And then came the breakthrough. That magical moment when you start your campaign, and it feels like you’ve unlocked a secret level in a game.

My ads started gaining traction, not because of blind luck, but due to rigorous testing, learning from mistakes, and relentless optimization.

  • Trial and Error:
    • It’s essential to understand that in the Google Ads universe, every failure is just a stepping stone. The more you learn from missteps, the closer you get to perfection. And with each campaign, my grasp on the complexities of the system grew stronger, turning challenges into opportunities.

Each chapter of my odyssey has been a learning curve, a thrilling roller-coaster of highs and lows, but always progressing forward. And now, dear reader, I’m here to share this treasure map with you.

What is Keyword Research?

Have you ever wondered how Google seems to know what you’re thinking? Well, it doesn’t. It simply understands the language of ‘keywords’. Dive into any Google Ads keyword research tutorial, and you’ll quickly realize that keyword research is the magic spell behind this digital sorcery.

Unpacking the Magic

Imagine you’re in a library. Each book is a webpage, and every page inside these books contains words.

Now, if you’re searching for “Harry Potter”, you won’t be checking each book, right? Instead, you’d look for specific keywords, like “Hogwarts” or “Voldemort”.

That’s essentially what keyword research does in the vast digital library of the internet.

  • The Heart of the Matter:
    • Why is keyword research important? Because it identifies the exact words or phrases people use when they’re searching for something. Getting this right means your webpage or ad appears right in front of them.
  • It’s a Numbers Game:
    • Sure, intuition plays a part. But keyword research is one of the most data-driven activities in digital marketing. By understanding search volumes, trends, and competition, you’re no longer shooting in the dark.

The Golden Question

Now, here’s the million-dollar question: How do you find these magic words? That’s where tools come in.

Keyword Tools to Make You Feel Like Sherlock!

Enter the realm of detective work, where with the right set of tools, you can unveil the mysteries of search behaviors.

Armed with these instruments, keyword research turns from a guessing game into a scientific investigation.

The Powerhouses

  • Google Keyword Planner:
    • This is Google’s own keyword research tool. Want to find keyword ideas? Or perhaps, gauge the monthly search volume? The Google Keyword Planner does all that and more, making it an indispensable tool for beginners and pros alike.
Google Keyword Planner's dashboard
  • Third-Party Tools:
    • While the Keyword Planner is powerful, sometimes you might want a different perspective. That’s where third-party tools come into play. Semrush, Ahrefs, and Ubersuggest offer advanced metrics and features that give deeper insights into keyword performance.

Make it Personal

The beauty of tools like the Keyword Planner is that they allow you to use the Google Ads ecosystem to its fullest.

Not only can you use the keyword planner to scout for keyword ideas, but it also allows for A/B testing, giving a clear picture of what works and what doesn’t.

  • Mix and Match:
    • Using a blend of different tools gives a 360-degree view. For instance, Google might show high search volumes, but a third-party tool could reveal high competition. It’s all about finding the balance.

By the end of these steps, you’ll have transformed from a novice into a keyword detective, ready to dive deep into the world of Google Ads with confidence and precision.

Finding the Golden Keywords

Ah, the exhilarating quest for the golden keywords! It’s like searching for the perfect ingredients for a legendary potion.

The right mixture can propel your ad to the forefront of search results, but the wrong combination? It might just sit in the back, gathering digital dust. So, where do you start this epic treasure hunt?

The Genesis: The Seed Keyword

Picture this: You’re about to embark on an epic voyage across the vast digital sea.

What’s your compass?

The seed keyword.

It’s the basic term that embodies the essence of your content or product.

Think of it as the nucleus from which all other keywords spiral out.

  • For instance:
    • Selling handmade leather boots? Your seed keyword might simply be “leather boots”. From there, a myriad of related keywords bloom.

Mapping Out The Terrain: Search Volume & Related Keywords

With your seed keyword in tow, the next step is to fathom its power.

How many souls are out there, searching for it?

That’s where search volume data comes into play.

  • Unlocking the Numbers:
    • Tools like Google Keyword Planner can help you decipher the monthly search volumes. So, if “leather boots” gets 10,000 searches a month, but “handmade leather boots” gets 3,000, you’ve got an insight into user preferences.

As you dive deeper, you’ll stumble upon related keywords. They’re like distant cousins to your seed keyword, offering a fresh perspective.

  • Tightly Related Keywords:
    • These are phrases directly associated with your seed keyword. Continuing our example, “genuine leather boots” or “artisanal leather boots” would be tightly related.

The Art of Distillation: Target Keywords & Long-tails

The vast ocean of potential keywords can be overwhelming. But, like a seasoned alchemist, you’ll learn to distill them down to the most potent ones: the target keywords.

  • Why They Matter:
    • These are specific keywords that align most closely with your content or offering. In our boot saga, if you’re specifically selling “vintage handmade leather boots”, that becomes your target keyword.

Now, there’s a secret weapon in your arsenal, the mysterious long-tail keywords. These are extended phrases that are super specific. They might have lower search volume, but they often lead to higher conversion rates.

  • A Glimpse:
    • “vintage handmade leather boots for women” is a classic long-tail. It’s detailed, specific, and targets a particular audience.

Fine-Tuning with Match Types and Negative Keywords

Once you’ve got your keywords, it’s not just about throwing them into an ad campaign and hoping for the best. There’s finesse involved.

  • Keyword Match Types:
    • These dictate how closely a user’s search must match your keyword for your ad to appear. There’s a whole spectrum, from broad matches to exact matches. It’s all about controlling when your ad pops up.

But there’s also an art to knowing what you don’t want. Enter negative keywords.

  • Avoiding the Missteps:
    • This is about filtering out searches that aren’t relevant to your campaign. If you don’t want people searching for “DIY leather boots” to see your ad, that becomes a negative keyword. Want to dig deeper? Check out this guide on negative keywords in Google Ads.

By the close of Step 3, you’ll be gleaming with pride, holding your golden keywords, ready to step into the enchanting world of Google Ads campaigns.

Remember, it’s about finding the right balance, weaving the art of creativity with the precision of analytics.

The Vantage Point – Analyzing Keyword Metrics

Once you’ve unearthed the golden keywords, what’s next?

It’s not about simply collecting these keywords, placing them on a pedestal, and admiring them from afar.

No, we have to get gritty and dive into the analytics behind them.

This step is like being Sherlock, gazing through the magnifying glass, looking for clues amidst the data. Here’s how you step into those detective shoes.

Metrics Matter: Diving into Numbers

You’ve got your keywords, but do they sparkle? Are they catching the right kind of attention? Here’s where keyword metrics come into play.

  • Monthly Search Volume:
    • Think of this as the popularity contest. How many souls are out there typing in your keyword each month? A high volume suggests a higher potential audience, but it also means fiercer competition.
  • Match Type:
    • This is about how strict or flexible you are with your keywords. Are you aiming for a broad match, casting a wide net? Or are you pinpointing an exact match, seeking a specific audience?

The Eyes of the Rival: Scoping Out Competitors’ Google Metrics

A wise man once said, “To be ahead in the game, you must know what cards the others hold.”

  • Conducting Competitor Research:
    • This isn’t about mimicry; it’s about strategy. By gauging your competitors’ keyword metrics, you can find gaps in the market or even refine your own keyword plan. Tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs can be your trusty allies in this endeavor.

Perfecting the Craft: Using the Search Terms Report

The search terms report in Google Ads is a treasure trove. It offers you a panoramic view of how your ads are faring in the real world.

  • How to Harness it:
    • This report showcases which search terms triggered your ads. By combing through this data, you can refine your strategy, perhaps even stumbling upon new keyword ideas you hadn’t considered before.

So, there we are, standing atop the vantage point, gazing out at the vast landscape of keyword metrics.

By arming yourself with this knowledge, you’re not just hoping for the best; you’re crafting a strategic pathway.

And remember, every tweak, every refinement, brings you one step closer to unlocking your digital destiny.

For a deeper dive into how quality metrics influence your keywords, have a look over at this guide.

Budgeting & Bidding – Don’t Just Burn Cash

Entering the world of Google Ads can sometimes feel like navigating a bustling bazaar.

Everywhere you look, there’s a keyword waving at you, promising endless opportunities.

But, like any market, it’s easy to splurge without thought.

And before you know it, your pocket’s empty, and you’re left with trinkets you didn’t really need.

This is where budgeting and bidding come in. It’s the science behind the art, ensuring your money works as hard as you do.

The Delicate Dance: Understand Your Bid

Imagine bidding in an auction. The exhilaration as you raise that paddle, the hope that the item will be yours. In a Google Ads campaign, bidding is that same exhilarating dance, just digital.

  • How Bidding Works:
    • Each time you enter that keyword into your campaign, you’re effectively telling Google, “Hey, I’m willing to pay X amount for a click on this keyword.” The more you’re ready to cough up, the higher your ad might appear in the search results. But beware, high bids don’t always equate to success.

Your PPC Campaign: Where Every Penny Counts

When starting a PPC campaign, you’re investing in your dreams. But as Uncle Ben told Spiderman, “With great power, comes great responsibility.”

  • Keyword Value vs. Volume:
    • Not all keywords are created equal. Some might bring in a sea of traffic but barely any conversions. Others might have low volume but align perfectly with search intent. You have to decide where to place your bet.

Tools To Aid Your Quest: Using SEMrush and Google’s Insights

You’re not alone in this adventure. There are trusty tools ready to guide you.

  • SEMrush for Optimization:
    • This tool helps you to focus on keywords that your competitors might be overlooking. With its data, you can tweak, refine, and optimize your strategy to outbid and outshine them.
Semrush advertising competitors report
  • Google’s Recommendations:
    • Ever wished you had a guide by your side? Well, when you use Google for your campaigns, you get one. Their platform often gives insights and recommendations based on your campaign’s performance.

A Tracker’s Delight: Keep An Eye on Your Expenditure

As you move forth, track, refine, and adjust. After all, the market is ever-evolving, and so should your strategy.

  • PPC Budget Allocation Tracker:
    • An essential tool to know where your money’s going. It lets you understand which keywords are giving a bang for your buck and which are just burning your cash. If you’re not sure where to start, check out this nifty tracker.

Journeying through the landscape of Google Ads, especially keyword bidding, can be daunting. But remember, it’s about strategy, not splurge.

Learn, adapt, and grow.

And as you master the art of budgeting and bidding, the horizon will open up with promises of success.

Looking to scale your ventures further? Here’s a guide on scaling Google Ads.

Landing Page – Where Magic Happens!

Let’s picture this: you’ve thrown an epic party and invited everyone.

They’ve heard the buzz, they’re excited, and they’re knocking at your door.

Now, imagine opening that door to reveal…a broom closet.

That’s what it’s like when your landing page doesn’t live up to the promise of your ad.

The landing page is your party hall; it needs to be grand!

A Stellar First Impression

  • The Essence of Your Ad:
    • Ensure that your landing page communicates the heart of your search campaigns. If someone clicked on your ad expecting a free e-book, they better not land on a page promoting your newest webinar.

Organic Search vs. Landing Page

  • Differences Matter:
    • While organic search might bring someone to your blog or homepage, your ad-specific landing page has a job: converting that click into an action. Ensure it’s streamlined, focused, and relevant to the promise made in your ad.

Ready to perfect that landing page? Grab this comprehensive landing page checklist.

If you’re in the SaaS business, dive into these insights for optimizing your SaaS landing page.

Step 7: Storytelling with Ad Extensions & Scheduling

Ever read a book and wished it had a few extra pages?

That’s what ad extensions are like for your ads.

They’re the added chapters, the bonus content, offering more reasons for readers to dive in.

And while the story is essential, when you tell it (scheduling) can make all the difference!

Spicing Things Up with Extensions

  • More than Just Text:
    • Ad extensions allow you to put on multiple hats. You can be the guide showing locations, the salesperson flaunting reviews, or the retailer showcasing prices. This added information can make your search ads pop and feel more engaging.

For a deep dive into using these effectively, check out this guide on Google Ads ad extensions.

Timing: The Unsung Hero

  • Ad Scheduling:
    • Imagine promoting your ice-cream store at 3 am in winter. Pointless, right? The timing of your ads is crucial. It’s about ensuring your narrative reaches the audience when they’re most receptive. Harness the power of ad scheduling to get your message across at the right moment.

To fine-tune your ad’s timing, here’s a must-read on ad scheduling for SaaS.

By crafting a mesmerizing landing page and using extensions and scheduling to your advantage, you’re not just creating ads; you’re weaving stories.

Tales that captivate, resonate, and more importantly, convert!

So, what story will you tell today?


Your grand keyword adventure has just begun! 

Every click, search, and ad is now a chapter in your epic saga. 

Dive deeper, keep refining, and never stop exploring. 

For the next leg of your journey, let these SaaS marketing insights be your trusty map.

Michael Schroder

Michael Schroder

Michael Schroder is a Google Ads and SaaS marketing consultant. He has been managing $200k-$300k monthly ad spend and has worked with 200+ SaaS companies. The thing that makes him unique is his data-led approach and his focus on SaaS businesses.