Pay-Per-Click Keywords—Where Do I Start?

It doesn’t matter whether you are in the business of selling cars or snow globes, one of most important parts of pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is choosing the right keywords for your search engine marketing campaign. If you are starting a campaign from scratch, however, creating a list of all of the keywords you will need may seem like a daunting task. Here are a few helpful tips to get the ball rolling on your campaign.

Separate your brands and models
To start things off, open up a blank Excel spreadsheet and type the names of the major brands you sell. If you have a Volkswagen/Audi/Kia dealership, then make a column for each of those names, as well as a column for each of the models in that brand. For example, the top row of your spreadsheet should look something like this: Volkswagen, Jetta, Passat, Tiguan, Beetle, etc. Separating your brands and models now will save you a lot of time later when you create Ad Groups in your PPC campaign.
Start getting specific
Once you have a column set aside for each brand and model, you can start adding keywords to that column. Start with the most basic and generic keywords related to that product. Once you drain your brain of all common sense keywords, try to expand the keywords to include geographic location and search phrases. For example, under the ‘Jetta’ column on your spreadsheet, some keywords you should have are Jetta, Jettas, VW Jetta, Volkswagen Jetta, Volkswagon Jetta, Jetta for sale, VW Jetta Houston, VW Jetta Houston TX, etc. Any word, phrase or misspelling that a searcher could perform is fair game when you make your keyword list.
Avoid being too generic
The reason you should organize your keywords in these brand and model specific columns is to avoid having keywords that are too generic. If you have a campaign with only a few keywords like Car, Cars, Used Cars and your dealership name, then your performance results will suffer. Too many dealerships fall into the trap of choosing a few generic keywords, accumulating thousands of impressions, and then finding that they have very few relevant clicks to show for it. The campaign has a better chance of succeeding if the keywords match the ad copy and your dealership brand.
Find free tools
All of the major PPC engines have some form of keyword tool that will help you add to your keyword lists. Most of these tools are free, and they can be very useful in finding keyword suggestions that you might not have thought of. Do not simply add every keyword that these tools suggest, however; be sure only to add the keywords that you think your potential customers would search for in your area. These tools are also helpful when you add your negative keywords, which are enabled to prevent your ads from coming up on unwanted searches (for example, Recall, Lemon, Racing, etc.)
With these hints, you should have a nice keyword base to build your PPC campaign around. By focusing on your brands, expanding search terms with makes and models, eliminating generic keywords, and utilizing free tools online, you can be on your way to a successful pay-per-click campaign.
Tom Knoop is director of search engine marketing for Stevenson Advertising. If you need help starting your own pay-per-click campaign, feel free to contact him at 800-643-8584 or email





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