Keywords & How They Work in PPC

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Keywords are like the heart of everything in PPC as they clearly define where your Ads are supposed to come into sight.

You need to have a solid understanding of what keywords are and how they can be effectively used in order to be successful with PPC.

Before we get to it, let’s take a look at essential terminologies that you need to take note of:

  • Search Term:  words a user types into Google when performing a search.
  • Keyword:  words, that you add to your Google Ads campaigns.
  • Keyword Match Type: A setting for your keywords that will determine the keyword’s reach.

Types of Keywords

A successful search strategy is built on targeting appropriate keywords. When you identify your best keyword opportunities, you can drive the most traffic, qualified leads, and conversions for your brand.

To know the types of keywords that will work best in your strategy, you first need to weigh all of your options.

The types of keywords include:

  • Branded keywords: These are search phrases that include a brand’s name or other branded terms. eg SemaSEO.
  • Transactional keywords: are keywords that have both strong and weak purchase intent. As long as there is some purchase intent, then you can label a keyword a commercial keyword.
  • Locational keywords: cover everything related to a location and are very powerful for location-based companies. 
  • Long-tail keywords: Long-tail keywords are the longest search terms and are very targeted to a specific topic or audience.
  • Informational keywords: these keywords, or “know” keywords, are terms users search for when they want to find general information about a topic. 

Keywords Across a Buyer’s Journey

Often the term you use in your search reflects where you’re in your buying journey. It’s important to note, however, that it’s impossible to know exactly where in the buyer’s journey someone is solely based on what keyword they use, but it can be a strong indicator.


Core Keywords vs. Qualifiers & Modifiers

It’s very vital to tell the difference between a core keyword and a keyword qualifier/modifier when working with PPC.

  • Core keyword: This is like the main keyword eg. Hosting.
  • Keyword qualifier/modifier: Searchers will often add qualifiers or modifiers e.g cheap.

The reason why this is important is that if you only have one core keyword in your account, you’re bound to pay a lot per click and have a very narrow reach.

Let’s use a hosting company as an example. If you’re using the below-mentioned keywords, you’re essentially just bidding for one core keyword.

  • Hosting services
  • Hosting company
  • Best hosting company
  • Hosting companies in kenya

Rather, you have to continue finding core keywords across the entire scope.

Note: One thing you have to keep in mind is that keywords are never exact. You’ll note that what you see is never what you get.

As an example, just because you used the keyword” best hosting services in Kenya” doesn’t mean your Ads will only appear when someone searches for that exact term.

Keyword Match Types

There are three different match types.

The behaviour will be different depending on the match type.  The difference between the match types come down to how much you want each match type to be expanded.

Broad match

Broad match keywords are like shooting a shotgun.

You choose the overall area you want to target (the keyword), but Google can expand your keyword, sometimes to completely different searches than you anticipated.

Broad Match Pros:

  • You can cover a lot of misspellings and keyword variations with a single keyword.
  • You’ll discover high-converting long-tail keywords that you’d never thought of.
  • Broad Match keywords receive many more impressions/clicks than any other match type.
  • It can be extremely effective!

Phrase match

To add a keyword in phrase match, add it with quotation marks: “running shoes.”


  • Greater control on what queries you’ll be shown.
  • Very effective for sentences.
  • Effective for avoiding greater expansions.

Exact match

To add a keyword in exact match, add it with brackets.


  • You know exactly what search is used.
  • Perfect for controlling high-converting keywords.
  • What you see is what you get.

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