Building an optimal keyword list is a lot like shopping for the perfect pair of jeans. You can’t expect success right off the bat, but the more you experiment with different varieties, the closer you get to finding the best fit. Maybe you’ll even give that pair of crazy, acid wash cutoffs a shot in a moment of desperation, only to look in the mirror and say, “Damn. I look hot!”
But, back to keywords: The more variations you test in your list of keywords, the better you can optimize your campaigns for success. And, who knows? You just might find that your unexpected, acid-wash-comparable keyword gets the most conversions. The only way to know for sure is by experimenting.
Whether you’re starting a brand new campaign or need to revive one that’s not doing so hot, these strategies can help you choose keywords you may not have thought about testing.
1. Start from scratch
Put on your thinking cap and start listing keywords related to your offer and audience. Think from your audience’s perspective. What keywords are they likely to use that would trigger your ad? This is just an experiment, so don’t be afraid to add a bunch. When you can’t possibly think of another keyword, add them all to a paused campaign to keep them from running. Next, take a look at the keyword volume and recommended bids to narrow down your best bets for success. Here are some tips:
- Depending on your budget, you’ll need to be judicious with keywords that have high recommended bids. These keywords are competitive because they’re effective and still generate a positive ROI, but they’re a higher upfront investment. Start by eliminating expensive keywords that aren’t very relevant to your offer, especially if the keyword has low volume.
- Stick with any high volume keywords that have low recommended bids. Even if the conversion rate isn’t the best, you aren’t paying much per click, which sets the stage for a potential boost in ROI. Plus, if your campaign is PPC, you’ll get free exposure from your impressions.
- Test relevant keywords with low recommended bids, even if the volume is low. These tend to have the best conversion rates, although they may not lead to many (or any) conversions.
TIP: 50onRed Traffic Platform advertisers can add top volume keywords by category to any campaign. And with our handy tools for estimating volume and recommending bids, creating custom keyword lists are a snap.
2. Add location based keywords
Where is your target audience, geographically? Try adding cities or states to your keyword list, or tack them onto a few existing keywords. Even if “swimsuits Florida” gets fewer impressions than simply “swimsuits,” the former keyword might have a higher conversion rate because it’s targeting a location with hot weather, where people are more likely to swim.
3. Bid on the competition
You certainly want to bid on your own brand name and the products you sell, but what about your competitors’ products and brand names? It might seem like a dirty trick, but it’s pretty common for advertisers to use names of similar brands and products in campaign keyword lists. Doing so can help get your ad targeted exposure while diverting traffic from the big guys. Just be mindful of any dynamic keyword insertion (DKI) you have implemented in your ad copy or landing page. Using a competitor’s brand or product name can not only get you into trouble, but can also mislead your audience, which can lower your conversion rate as a result.
4. SKU it up
If you’re selling a product, you probably have keywords related to your product. Maybe you even have keywords related to your competitors’ products. But have you considered adding product SKU numbers? SKU numbers can be highly targeted for quality traffic because they represent specific products. A single SKU number as a keyword may not get a whole lot of volume, but in bulk you could really clean house when it comes to ROI.
5. Mix up your match types
Depending on your traffic platform and ad solution, you may have the option to choose different match types for your keyword phrases. While we wouldn’t recommend choosing match types willy-nilly, a little experimentation can help you optimize keywords to perform their best. A good technique is broadening the match type on low volume keywords with high conversion rates, and tightening the match type on high volume keywords with low conversion rates
6. Experiment with long tail vs. short tail
Long tail and short tail keywords both have their pros and cons, but the long and short of it is this: Long-tail keywords can be highly targeted with less competition, but often have lower volume. Short-tail keywords are usually more general with more competition and higher volume. A good strategy is choosing the most relevant long tail keywords (bonus if it gets a decent amount of volume, and double bonus if the recommended bid is low!) and testing a few of the most relevant short tail keywords–especially any with high volume and low recommended bids.
7. Get descriptive
Adding adjectives to your keywords can give your campaign a competitive advantage. Let’s say you’re selling used cars. Awesome! There’s a huge market for that. But there are also a lot of used cars on the market, and you don’t want your ad getting lost among your competitors. Instead of–or, in addition to–banking on “used cars” as your money-making keyword (which will likely have very competitive bids) try adding a descriptive word to your keyword phrase, like “cheap used cars” or “used sports cars.” Not only is the more descriptive keyword likely to have a lower recommended bid, but it will also stand out and appeal to a more targeted audience.
- These strategies can only be successful if they’re tested, measured, and optimized over time.
- Your keywords’ success rates will vary depending on the ad solution and traffic platform you use. These strategies typically work well for 50onRed advertisers who want maximum volume on their Search, InText, or full-page CPV campaigns.
- Regardless of your ad solution or traffic platform, the strategies above won’t work unless they’re tested, measured, and optimized over time.
How do you vary keywords? Do you have a technique that we didn’t mention? Share your tips in the comments!