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How Keywords Affect Your Google Ads Campaigns

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Originally Posted On: How Keywords Affect Your Google Ads Campaigns – The HOTH


Google Ad campaigns aren’t something you do casually in your free time.

If you own a traditional business with a website or an e-commerce store, you’ll need an experienced marketer to spend the equivalent of 40 hours a week testing ads, making adjustments, and analyzing data. It’s seriously a full-time job!

But, the price of not having this equates to thousands of dollars in wasted ad money.

Have you tried running campaigns in the past but saw no success? Or maybe you experienced some gains but couldn’t keep it consistent?

The purpose of this article is to show you how to perform surgery on your Google Ad campaign and show you how to fix it. Ready to scrub in and get started?

What’s the Main Artery of a Google Ad Campaign?

When you’re trying to build an effective Google Ad campaign there are certain topics you should focus on: why keywords matter, the intent of keywords, and the importance of using negative keywords. Let’s explore each of these concepts.

Why Keywords Matter

All of us know that keywords are the lifeblood of your site’s SEO. But, they are also pivotal to a successful pay-per-click (PPC) campaign.

Google will use these keywords to match your advertisements with real people. Furthermore, your ad could reach other shoppers or sites with similar keywords or keyword match types (more about that below). It could connect you with new audiences you never considered before.

And, of course, there is a difference between the keywords you use for SEO (which tend to be lower intent) and ones you use for PPC (higher intent).

The Intent of Keywords

It’s not enough to simply compile a list of relevant keywords. You also need to determine a searcher’s intent. Digital marketers label keywords as having high or low intent. When a person is eager to buy something or perform some type of action, then the keyword would have a higher intent.

Searches are broken down into three types: informational, navigational, or transactional. As a business owner using PPC ads, you want to use high intent transactional keywords. These could be keywords saying “buy now” or naming specific products like “Playstation games.”

Negative Keywords

Having strong keywords with high intent will put you on the path to an effective ad campaign. But, there is one more step and that’s adding negative keywords. This is a keyword that prevents your ad from being triggered by a certain word or phrase.

Here is an example of a search ad that appears for one of our clients:

Here are some search ads for a moving company.

But, we use negative keywords for searches that would be irrelevant or not qualified for our services. Examples of these include “free,” “DIY,” or “cheap.” None of these words would serve our client, so we add them to our negative keywords list.

See below how the company’s ads are blocked when “free” is used in the search query.

An example of how negative keywords work for a moving company.

Choosing Your Keyword Match Types

Understand that Google Ads are delivered through a bidding process. Therefore, you need to specify how aggressive or restrictive you want to match advertisements to keyword searches.

Here are the four keyword match types:

  • Broad Match: Ad could appear when a search includes any words in your key phrase, in any order
  • Phrase Match: This one allows you to lock in a phrase using your keywords in the exact order you entered them
  • Exact Match: As the most strict of all match types, this one will only deliver your ad when there is an exact match of keywords

While these four types give you a lot of options, which one should you choose?

Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, and some may work better with certain products than others. Check out this graphic from Google.

The different types of keyword matches for Google Ads.

The best way to find out which keywords convert best for your campaign is to start with phrase match and exact match keywords. These match types will give you the cleanest and most relevant traffic

Once you start getting the hang of what is working for your business, cut the ones that aren’t getting more eyes on your products. Generally, it’s a smart move not to go too broad or too tight.

Seeking a Lower CPC Is Wrong

The next step in building your campaign is calculating your cost-per-click (CPC). This is how much money will be charged every time a customer clicks on your ad.

One thing we always notice new clients trying to do is to shoot for the lowest CPC. It seems like common sense but the truth is a lower CPC doesn’t always mean more money in your pocket.

CPCs also vary depending on the industry. We see rates for different companies ranging from $50 to $200. And we don’t shy away from the more expensive ones.

A higher cost-per-click is actually an indicator that there is more profit behind those keywords. For example, we work with a lot of lawyers. As you all know there are a lot of law firms and hundreds of them bid on Google Ads every day.

The higher amounts of CPC for lawyer keywords like "personal injury lawyer."

Why are legal keywords so high? Because the search intent, discussed above, is so high that we want someone searching specifically for a personal injury lawyer.

If someone is searching for that specific phrase then most likely they’re looking for a personal injury lawyer.

On the other hand, if you use “personal injury lawyer” as a keyword but use a broad match then the search could be a mix of anything. This is a case when getting specific will benefit the client.
Examples of broad match searches involving "personal injury lawyer" as a keyword. Out of these five searches, only one of them is really the only search we want our ads coming up for. The rest are too broad and a waste of our money.

How To Structure Your Keywords

One of the last pieces of advice we’ll offer you in this article is about how to structure your keywords. When we start working with a new client we advise them to start with phrase match and exact match.

The reason for this is we want to make sure they’re getting clicks from customers who are actually interested in what they’re selling. While this limits the total amount of people clicking on your ads, it’s more likely to result in conversions.

After a month’s worth of data and having our search teams clean, the HOTH PPC team will sometimes open up our keywords to a broad match. This will allow us to find other searches that people are actively looking for and give us ideas on new keywords to bid on.

A broad match delivers a bigger pool of shoppers, meaning you need to be on top of your negative keywords to avoid wasting money on irrelevant ads.


We hope this article has helped you understand more of what happens behind-the-scenes with PPC advertising. Businesses wanting to launch their own Google Ad campaigns need to do keyword research, determine intent, figure out their matching, and be prepared to make a lot of adjustments.

One thing we want to stress is how difficult it can be to manage these campaigns on your own. We’ve worked with so many clients who lost hundreds or thousands of dollars on new ads because their keywords were structured too broadly.

We can help companies like yours configure paid advertising campaigns to get a high ROI. Part of our PPC service is also working with clients to optimize landing pages so visitors are more likely to convert.

If you need help with Google Ads, book a call today with one of our PPC experts.

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