Over the past decade or so, online marketing has changed the way businesses advertise. It is no longer about jumping blindly into the mass market and hoping for a good catch.

Online marketing can precisely target audience and appeal to their interests at the right time. The efficiency is unparalleled to what many traditional marketing methods can offer.

The industry usually classifies online marketing activities into two main categories – SEO and SEM. At one time, however, SEM encompasses SEO. Nowadays, webmasters usually refer to each acronym as their own unique practice.

SEO or Search Engine Optimization is the organic or free way to earn traffic online. On the other hand, SEM or Search Engine Marketing is the paid way of ranking in SERP (search engine results page).

What is PPC Pay-Per-Click?

You may be familiar with the term SEM as the acronym for Search Engine Marketing. SEM describes the paid way to show up in search results.

Here are the 3 most commonly practiced strategies of SEM. Refer to our Fundamentals of SEM to learn more about each strategy below.

  • PPC or Pay-Per-Click
  • CPM or Cost-Per-Thousand Impressions
  • CPA or Cost per Acquisition

From the above 3 SEM strategies, PPC or Pay-Per-Click is one of the most popular and commonly practiced paid search method. It involves paying a fee every time the advertisement is clicked on by a user.

For example, if your website wants to advertise for the keyword “ice cream cake”, you will need to pay a fee to an advertising platform such as Google AdWords or Bing Ads. The amount of this fee depends on how much you are willing to bid against all the other advertisers who also want to rank for the same keyword.

If your bid is the highest, you will rank higher in this keyword’s search results page. Once someone clicks on that paid search listing, you will pay the advertising platform the fee you’ve bided for.

How to Plan and Pick the Right PPC Keywords

There are people out there searching for your products or services almost on a daily basis. The right keywords will help to identify the demands of your consumers and capture that market share.

Tailor SEM Pay-Per-Click strategy around your competitive advantages. You can discover the most lucrative keywords for ad campaigns. Easier said than done, right? Not necessarily.

Use keyword research tools to help you discover the most profitable markets. Keyword research tools not only help you with keyword ideas, they can uncover search volume, competitiveness, and average bidding price of keyword terms and phrases. Here are our top five choices:

How Much Should You Pay for PPC Keywords

So how much should you spend on SEM Pay-Per-Click? The answer is – it depends. There are many factors that can influence your PPC keyword spending.

Ultimately, every business is unique when it comes to marketing needs and budget cap. The best way to cost-control PPC is to understand the key aspects that can sway the market. Here we have a brief overview on what drive PPC keyword costs.

6 Factors that Influence PPC Budgeting

  • Industry trends
  • Competitor activities
  • Google Quality Score
  • Keyword ranking costs
  • Keyword competitiveness
  • Customer search query preferences

PPC Keyword Categories

Focus on precision and conversion when choosing PPC keywords. Remember, you are paying for each click on an ad. Filter out low-quality traffic by refining each keyword and eliminating low performing terms.

Master SEM PPC Keyword Research with 5 Keyword Categories

1. PPC Long Tail Keywords

Long tail keywords are phrases made up of three or more words. These can be big money words because they can uncover profitable niches without costing a fortune.

For example, as of today, the suggested bid for keyword “diamond ring” is $4 per click. When you change the keyword to “platinum diamond ring” however, your suggested cost-per-click will reduce to $3 because you are targeting a more specific keyword.

That is a huge saving when we are talking about hundreds of thousands of clicks. In addition to cost saving benefits, long-tail keywords bring more committed customers because their search is more defined.

2. PPC Negative keywords

You want to exclude the dangerous negative keywords because they can exhaust your marketing budget with unwanted traffic. Negative keywords are keywords that have multiple meanings but have nothing to do with your business. You do not want to associate with these terms because they can potentially place your listings in the wrong search results.

For example, you type into Google “buy a mouse”.

So you want a computer mouse or the pet animal? That is a heteronym dilemma because this word can indicate two completely different things.

When you do keyword research, make sure that you look into keywords with multiple meanings in different industries. Eliminating those possibly misleading terms can help you avoid wasted clicks.

3. Branded Keywords

Many customers will associate products with certain labels. When a keyword or phrase contains a company or a brand name, it is considered as a branded keyword.

Branded keywords are cost-efficient opportunities to gain traffic. It is usually effective when you have done great brand marketing and customers are familiar with your company name.

In this case, include the name of your business with the keywords you are trying to rank for. For example, “Tide detergent”, “Campbell chicken noodle soup”, or “Fetcher Jones Mercedes-Benz” are all branded keywords.

In addition, your competitors may already be capitalizing on your branded terms and diluting your traffic. Don’t lose this easy win. You can apply branded keywords to multiple forms of ad listings such as Product Listing Ads, or on-page display ads.

4. Broad Term Keywords

Broad term search yields results that show appropriate variations of your keywords. These are generic terms most people use to search for your products or services.

For instance, when someone looks up “plant-based recipe”, their search results may yield key phrases like “vegan diet”, “vegetarian recipe”, or ‘how to make meatless steak”. While they are still relevant keywords, however, they cover a broader perspective of your intended phrase.

Broad term keywords are great when you are going after the bigger and more popular phrases. They can also open up new long-tail keyword markets. Be sure to include negative keywords in the campaign and combine long-tail keywords with broad terms match to improve overall keyword efficiency.

5. Related Keywords

Related keywords are extensions of your original keywords. They are usually variations of key phrases that expand search coverages. For example, if someone is looking for “best electric car”, related keyword can include “best hybrid car”, “new electric vehicle”, or “BMW i8 hybrid”.

Related keywords can be great indicators of words that your customers are using to look up your business. They can also help you to discover high conversion keyword combinations with lower cost-per-clicks. Start related term search with tools like SEMRush or Wordtracker to get an accurate picture of keyword competitiveness and cost.

A Quick Tip: PPC Keyword Concatenations

There is a great function in Excel, called “=CONCATENATE()”. You can use “concatenation” to link multiple words together and turn them into phrases.

This is a quick way to generate variations of words by combining two, three or more words into one phrase. It can be a great brain-picker when you get stuck.

Getting Started with PPC Keyword Research

It is always a little more challenging in the beginning to start your first keyword list. It may take a few trials-and-errors to find the best keywords that fetch the most cheese.

Set a reasonable budget to begin with and test keywords periodically to keep up with the changing market. Eventually, the payoff will be worth the investment.