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A Comprehensive Guide to Keyword Research for Google Ads

A Comprehensive Guide to Keyword Research for Google Ads 8

Google Ads is a powerful online advertising platform that allows businesses to reach potential customers at the very moment they are searching for the products or services they offer. At the heart of this is the concept of keywords — terms or phrases that users type into the Google search bar.

Knowing how to find the keywords for Google Ads is essential for successful digital marketing campaigns. The right keywords attract relevant traffic and optimise ad spend, while the wrong ones can lead to inefficiency and missed opportunities.

In this guide, we’ll demystify the process of keyword research for Google Ads, starting from the basics to advanced techniques. Whether you’re new to Google Ads or looking to refine your approach, we’ll equip you with the knowledge and tools needed to succeed.

The Basics of Keyword Research for Google Ads

When you post an ad on Google, you’re not just aiming to attract traffic. You’re looking to attract the right kind of traffic, potential customers who are interested in what you offer. This means aligning their search queries with your ad content.

The key to achieving this is keyword research. This is the process of identifying words and phrases potential customers will use when searching for your products or services. Once you’ve identified your audience’s search queries, you can then craft ads that will appear in relevant search results.

That’s why keyword research for Google Ads is so important. The success of your campaign hinges on choosing the right keywords. This selection affects everything from your ad’s visibility to its click-through rate and overall return on investment.

In the following sections, we’ll delve deeper into various types of keywords, how to begin your research, and the tools you can use. We will also explore advanced techniques and additional considerations, such as the role of landing pages and the importance of continuously refining your strategy.

Read on for actionable insights on how to find keywords for Google Ads effectively and efficiently.

Understanding Keywords in Google Ads

Before conducting keyword research for Google Ads, you must first understand what are the different types of keywords and search intent. We’ll use “running shoes” as an example to illustrate the differences:

Short-tail keywords

Example: “shoes”

These are broad topics and often one or two words long.
They generate high search volumes but are highly competitive.
Being less specific, short-tail keywords like “shoes” can be challenging in targeting audiences specifically looking for running shoes.

Long-tail keywords

Example: “women’s waterproof running shoes”

These are longer, more specific phrases.
They are less competitive and often have a higher conversion rate.
Long-tail keywords are more precisely aligned with specific user searches, such as those looking for a particular type of running shoe.
Short-tail keywords cater to a general audience, whereas long-tail keywords offer specificity. Besides the type of keywords used, we also have to consider the user intent behind the keywords, as this will determine the nature of the content your audience seeks.

Informational intent

Example: “best running shoes for flat feet”

Here, users are looking for information or answers.
Keywords with informational intent indicate the user is seeking knowledge, perhaps to inform a future purchase.
The landing page for this search intent should be informative, perhaps a blog or a guide, providing valuable insights or comparisons about running shoes.

Commercial intent

Example: “buy men’s running shoes online”

These users are considering a purchase or are in the decision-making stage.
Keywords with commercial intent focus on reaching customers who are ready to make a purchase.
The landing page in this case should be a product page or a sales page, making it easy for users to make a purchase decision and complete the transaction.

Understanding these keyword distinctions and the underlying user intent allows for a more tailored and effective approach to your Google Ads keyword strategy, ensuring that your campaigns meet the specific needs and interests of your target audience.

How to Start Researching Keywords for Google Ads

Now that we are familiar with different types of keywords and search intent, let’s explore how to begin researching keywords for your Google Ads campaigns.

Brainstorming business-related topics

The first step of keyword research is to brainstorm broad topics that are closely related to your business. Think about your products or services and what unique features or benefits they offer. These topics are the seeds from which relevant keywords can grow.

For example, A bakery might consider topics like “sourdough bread,” “gluten-free options,” or “artisan bread baking techniques”. These broad topics reflect the bakery’s speciality and can lead to discovering more specific keywords related to their products and craft.

The brainstorming phase is fundamental, as it sets the direction for your subsequent research and uncovers potential keyword opportunities that you may not have initially considered.

Mapping your target audience’s needs

After establishing your topics, the next focus is on your target audience. Who are they? What are their interests, pain points, and search behaviours? This knowledge helps you tailor your keyword list to match the needs and interests of your audience.

If the bakery’s target audience includes health-conscious eaters, they might explore keywords like “organic whole wheat bread” or “low-calorie bread options.” These tailored keywords cater to the specific interests and dietary preferences of their audience.

Competitor Keyword Analysis

The final step in this phase is analysing what keywords your competitors are using. These often use keyword tools like Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs or Semrush, which we’ll cover later in this article. This analysis helps you understand the competitive landscape: what keywords are they targeting? What gaps in their strategies can you exploit?

For instance, our hypothetical bakery might use tools to analyse competitors’ keywords, such as “best local bakery for birthday cakes” or “freshly baked croissants near me.” This insight could reveal gaps in their own keyword strategy, like the need to target local search terms or highlight specific products they offer that competitors don’t emphasise as much.

How to Choose Initial Keywords for Google Ads

Once you’ve completed the research process, it’s time to choose the most effective and relevant keywords from your list. This selection should align with your marketing goals and budget considerations, ensuring your Google Ads campaigns are targeted and cost-effective. You can choose your keywords based on the following criteria:

Intent-based selection

Aligning your keyword choices with your marketing objectives is crucial. If your goal is brand awareness or to educate your audience, focus on informational keywords like “how to choose running shoes” or “benefits of trail running shoes.”

Conversely, for direct sales or conversions, prioritise keywords with commercial intent such as “buy running shoes online” or “best deals on running shoes.” This strategic alignment ensures that your ads reach the audience at the right stage of their buying journey.

Budget consideration

The price for a specific keyword on Google Ads can vary depending on the amount of competition. Short-tail keywords are often highly competitive with more bidders, which in turn drives up the cost-per-click (CPC) rates.

For businesses with limited budgets, it may be more feasible to target less competitive, long-tail keywords which offer a better balance between cost and reach. This approach allows for more efficient use of your marketing budget, ensuring you don’t overspend on overly competitive keywords.

Search volume and budget efficiency

Finally, you want the keywords you select for your Google Ads to have the right balance of search volume and price. High search volume keywords can drive significant traffic, but this comes at a higher cost, potentially eating into your budget. On the other hand, low-volume keywords might be more cost-effective but may not deliver the desired traffic levels.

Analysing search volume, level of competition, and estimated CPC is key to developing a keyword strategy that balances visibility with budget efficiency.Useful Tools for Keyword Research

There are a variety of tools available online that can help you conduct effective keyword research for Google Ads. These keyword research tools offer insights into search volumes, competition, and keyword trends, aiding in the selection of optimal keywords for your campaigns.

Google Keyword Planner

This is a fundamental tool for anyone using Google Ads. It provides essential data like search volumes, competition, and estimated CPC for your chosen keywords. It’s especially useful for generating new keyword ideas and estimating traffic potential, which are key factors in assessing the potential of your chosen keywords.


Ahrefs offers a comprehensive suite of tools for keyword research and competitor analysis. This makes it excellent for revealing competitor keyword strategies and CPC trends to refine your Google Ads campaign.


Semrush stands out for its in-depth insights into paid search data, providing extensive information on CPC trends and competitive keyword analysis. This tool is particularly valuable for identifying cost-effective keywords and anticipating market shifts, ensuring that your Google Ads strategy remains both current and competitive.


Moz provides key insights for PPC keyword opportunities, aiding in the selection of high-return keywords for Google Ads campaigns. Its competitive analysis features help understand competitors’ paid search strategies, vital for making informed CPC decisions. This makes Moz a crucial tool for refining Google Ads campaigns and enhancing PPC performance.


Mangools offers insights into search volumes and CPC rates. Its user-friendly interface makes it accessible for beginners, simplifying complex aspects of keyword research for PPC campaigns. Utilising Mangools helps advertisers identify cost-effective keywords, optimise ad spend, and enhance the effectiveness of Google Ads strategies.

Each of these tools brings unique advantages to your Google Ads campaigns, especially in terms of CPC management and keyword selection. Utilising them together offers a comprehensive approach to refining your Google Ads strategy, ensuring you’re making informed decisions for effective ad spend and optimised campaign performance.

Advanced Keyword Research Techniques

Diving deeper into keyword research for Google Ads, this section builds upon earlier concepts, focusing on advanced techniques that optimise campaign performance and budget efficiency. We will explore strategic approaches such as cost estimation to keyword grouping to enhance the effectiveness of your Google Ads strategy.

Estimating costs and potential ROI for each keyword

Successful advertising is all about getting the most return on investment (ROI) from what you put in. Google Ads is no different. A crucial step in keyword research is to accurately estimate the cost and potential ROI of running your selected keywords.

To achieve this, advertisers conduct a thorough analysis of a keyword’s CPC and its anticipated search volume to come up with forecasts. This enables effective budget allocation and helps in determining the financial viability of targeting specific keywords, increasing the chances of delivering a positive return

Negative keyword research

Negative keyword research is crucial for optimising Google Ads campaigns, serving two key purposes: budget conservation and brand protection.

If you do not specify negative keywords, your ads might appear on irrelevant searches, leading to unnecessary expenditure through unproductive clicks. There is also the risk of your brand damage if your ad appears next to undesirable content.

Examples of negative keywords for a high-end fashion brand could be “discount”, “knockoff” or “replica”. By identifying and excluding irrelevant search terms, you can ensure your ads are targeted effectively towards an interested audience, enhancing overall campaign efficiency.

Prioritising keywords with commercial intent

Businesses aiming for immediate sales or conversions should prioritise keywords with commercial intent.

These keywords suggest a user’s readiness to make a purchase and are often directly linked to higher conversion rates. By focusing on transactional and high-intent search queries, businesses can align their ad spend to target the most promising prospects for immediate sales.

Grouping keywords for maximum impact

Strategically grouping related keywords significantly enhances your ads’ relevance and performance. This method involves organising similar keywords into cohesive groups, which improves ad targeting and often increases the quality score of your ads.

Higher quality scores typically lead to reduced cost-per-click rates and more effective ad placements, making keyword grouping a crucial tactic for optimising campaigns.

Incorporating these advanced techniques into your Google Ads strategy can result in more refined campaigns, better budget utilisation, and markedly improved performance, ultimately driving more effective results from your advertising efforts.

Additional Considerations

Complementing the foundational keyword strategies and advanced techniques previously discussed, here are some additional considerations you can make to further optimise your Google Ads campaign.

Bidding on branded search terms

Branded search terms are keywords that include a specific brand or company name. Bidding on these is an effective strategy to capture high-intent traffic and defend your brand space against competitors. Branded terms often have higher conversion rates and can be a key component of a comprehensive keyword strategy.

Synergy between landing pages and keywords

The relevance and quality of your landing pages are crucial in Google Ads. Ensuring that your landing pages closely align with your targeted keywords to improve user experience, increase conversion rates, and positively impact your ad’s quality score.

Leverage Google Ads tools for campaign building

Using the full range of Google Ads tools can provide valuable insights into keyword performance, competitive landscape, and market trends, assisting in creating more effective and targeted campaigns.

Refining campaigns with the Google Ads search terms report

Consistently reviewing and analysing the Google Ads search terms report is crucial for ongoing optimisation. This enables advertisers to spot emerging trends, modify strategies, and refine keyword selections, keeping campaigns effective and relevant.

These additional considerations are key to developing a comprehensive and successful Google Ads strategy, enabling advertisers to stay ahead in a competitive digital marketplace.

Staying Ahead in Google Ads

Staying ahead in Google Ads means constantly identifying and capitalising on breakout topics and marketing trends. Vigilant monitoring of industry developments, emerging consumer interests, and shifts in market dynamics, should be part of your overall keyword research strategy.

Leveraging tools like Google Trends and market analysis reports can help you gain insights into what topics are gaining traction. Integrating these trending topics into your keyword selection can significantly impact your campaigns, ensuring they align with current user interests and market demand.

Adapting your keyword strategy in response to these trends can give your campaigns a competitive advantage, keeping them relevant and engaging.

Transform Your Business with Expert Google Ads Management

Mastering keyword research is key to unlocking the full potential of your Google Ads campaign. Being able to select the right keywords and continuously adapt your campaigns puts you in a position to succeed, turning searches into meaningful engagements and clicks into conversions.

Looking for more ways to optimise your Google Ads? Browse our Google Ads Resource Hub for more useful tips and strategies.

Ready to take your Google Ads performance to the next level and start seeing tangible results in your sales and leads? Discover how First Page Digital’s Google Ads services can help you achieve exceptional ROI.

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