Keywords are the foundation of your search engine marketing campaign. Whether you are focusing on AdWords and other paid advertising, or whether you are focusing on organic SEO, the keywords you pick are the building blocks of your search engine marketing. If you pick the right keywords, you will be setup on day one for success. If you pick the wrong keywords, then you can do everything else right, but you’ll end up with nothing.
The most important thing to keep in mind about keywords is that, as my AdWords hero Brad Geddes likes to say, they represent the “thoughts” of your potential customers. Don’t just pick words that you think correspond to what you want people to type in to find you — put yourself in their shoes and try to create a keyword list that represents their thought process as they look to solve the problem that is bringing them to you.
Keyword research is the process of identifying which keywords you should target for either search engine optimization or paid keyword advertising. You need to use a wide variety of tools, starting with the Google Keyword Tool, to conduct thorough keyword research. Whether you are planning a PPC advertising campaign or an organic SEO campaign, the keywords you choose will be the foundation of your success.
Keyword Match Type
Keyword match type determines how tightly you control when one of your ads are shown. For instance, if you pick the most liberal match type (broad match) and you select the keyword “red balloon” then you can’t get mad at Google if they show your ad to someone who types in “hot air balloon party on Mars.” OK, that might be an exaggeration, but only a little bit. Basically, broad match is used when you have a big budget and you want to get results very quickly by pulling in traffic from lots of places. You can then use tools like the “search query report” to see the actual queries that triggered your ad, and you can use conversion tracking to see which of those terms should be officially added to your account.
There are five match types: broad match, broad match modifier, phrase match, exact match, and negative match.
Whenever I run an AdWords audit, I usually start by looking at the match types, and seeing if irrelevant traffic has been entering the account. I once found an AdWords account that spent $20,000 on completely irrelevant traffic.
Negative keywords are keywords that prevent your ad from running, and they only apply to paid search campaigns — there is no concept of negative keywords in SEO. One of the most common negative keywords to select is the word “free.” This is because most companies do not want to target visitors who are looking for free products or services.
For instance, if you are a lawyer, you might want to pay for a keyword such as “top virginia lawyer,” but you might not want to pay for the keyword “top virginia lawyer pro bono.” In this case, you would add “top virginia lawyer” as the keyword, and then add “pro bono” as the negative keyword.