As originally published in Forbes.com.
Google Ads can be an effective way to reach an audience of new customers. However, if you do not have a well-thought-out keyword list, your search and display ads may not be shown to those much-coveted consumers.
What is a keyword list? It is a set of terms, words and phrases that are associated with your business, brand or product. For example, if you own a yoga studio, keywords or phrases might include yoga classes, beginners’ yoga, hot yoga or meditation classes.
Beyond compiling a list of keywords and phrases that correlate to your business, think about the ways that people may search for you. Listing out your business or product name is always a must. But what if people do not already know about you? In our example of the yoga studio, keywords to use could be yoga studio near me, yoga studio in [town name], or even something as simple as good yoga studios.
The more specific your keywords are, the narrower the audience will be that finds them in their search. Ashtanga vinyasa yoga is a good keyword if you are targeting experienced and knowledgeable yogis, but it may exclude those new to the practice trying to find a studio. However, too broad of a keyword and you may be wasting money on showing your ad to people that may not be your target audience. Yoga is a pretty broad keyword and it competes with many other facets of the practice, including magazines, blogs and other online websites. Finding keywords that hit the proverbial sweet spot, as mentioned in paragraph three, will help optimize your reach to those searching for your business.
Once you have a keyword list ready, you must next decide on the modifiers. These are ways of inputting the keywords into Google Ads using quotation marks, brackets, plus signs, or leaving no modifiers of the keyword or phrase at all. The options are exact match, phrase match, broad match modifier, and broad match, respectively.
Exact Match is much like it sounds. By choosing the Exact Match modifier using brackets, ads will show when someone searches that exact term. [Beginners’ Yoga Studio] is an example of an exact match. Only someone searching that exact term will see the ad associated with that keyword.
Phrase Match uses quotation marks around the word or phrase. “Beginners’ Yoga” would be shown to those searching that phrase or a variation of that phrase, like beginners’ yoga classes.
Broad Match Modifier utilizes plus signs in front of the keywords so that they will appear when those terms, or close variations of those keywords, are searched in any order. +Beginners’ +yoga is an example of Broad Match Modifier. If someone searches yoga for beginners, the ad associated with that phrase will be shown to them.
Leaving out any modification and inputting the keywords or phrases just as they are is Broad Match. This type of matching leaves the terms open to include misspellings, synonyms and variations of the term. This is the default match when adding your keywords into Google Ads.
Which modifier is better to use is up to you. However, Google Ads makes it very easy to access your keywords and make changes at any time. If you start your ads with Broad Match but find that you are not converting customers, try Broad Match Modifier or Phrase Match. Google Ads’ dashboard can help you determine which keywords are successful. Google will also provide you recommendations on what keywords you may want to add to the campaign.
Finally, create a negative keyword list for terms for which you do not want to be found. Using the yoga studio as an example again, if it does not offer hot yoga classes, then the term hot yoga can be added to the negative keyword list. When people search the term hot yoga, your ads will not show up, saving the money on ads to be shown to those who are in the market for your type of studio.
Google Ads can act as a driver to gain brand awareness, push more visits to your website, receive more phone calls and, most especially, grow your customer base if they are set up correctly. Taking your time with your keyword list is a great way to start.