10 Adwords Keyword Optimization Tips For Better ROI


Search engine advertising has been a godsend for small businesses looking for more exposure. Armed with the right keyword strategy, small guys can often compete for customers with the big guys.

I’ve been working in digital advertising for 5 years now and it is not uncommon to see small business owners struggle with Google Ads (formerly known as Google Adwords). The deceptively easy-to-use tool can quickly get out of hand unless you’ve spent the time and money to learn how it works. Even then it’s still a tough nut to crack.

If you’re struggling to gain traction on your Google Adwords campaigns, fear not! It’s often simply a matter of keyword optimization and organization.

In this article we share 10 Adwords keyword optimization tips to help you develop a long term, holistic keyword strategy for healthy and happy campaigns.

1. What makes a good keyword?

Google loves relevancy! Keywords, and keyword phrases (long tail keywords), should be highly relevant to your business, your ad campaign, your ad copy and your campaign landing page. The more specific and tied in they are, the more Google will reward you.

A good keyword phrase is one that your potential customers type into Google search exactly when they are looking for your particular product, service, or offer.

The closer you can match that search query, the more likely your ad will be shown by Google in top spots. The higher your ad ranks, the more likely it’ll seen by those people who really want your stuff. The better you can be seen by those people, the more clicks, conversions and sales you’ll get.

2. Think like your customer

When you’re planning out your lists of keywords, think about the intent of your customer. This will determine what search phrases they will likely type into the search box. The better you can match their search, the better returns your ad campaigns will bring.

This is often easier said than done obviously.

As a marketer or small business owner, you’re so caught up in your own day-to-day world. Stepping out to really understand what your customers type into Google search can be challenging.


  • Creating a customer persona , detailing out what and where they are when they’re searching for you
  • Researching potential customers on social sites or blogs they like to read to understand the lingo they use. For example, if you market for a fishing gear business, do a simple search for what you think your keyword are (like fishing trip) on sites like Google+. You’ll find the keywords, and hashtags your potential customers are using:

  • Using search tools , like the Keyword Planner which I’ll discuss this below.

3. Be as specific as you can possibly be

The more specific you are with your keywords, the more targeted reach you’ll get. Don’t use terms that are overly generalized – you’ll waste your money by paying a higher cost per keyword, and your conversion results will be lower too.

Using single word, generic keywords may give you more of a chance for greater views of your ad – but it won’t bring you your niche consumer.

For example, if you are an auto detailer, use phrases like “fix cloudy headlights” or “mag wheels cleaned”, not just “auto detailer”.

4. How well coordinated are your words?

To increase your ad quality, you need to tie your keywords in with your ad copy, ad extensions (if you have them) and landing page.

Remember, Google likes relevancy. Hey, Google is trying to serve it’s search customers with the best results, too. The more on target your keywords are with the campaign you are running, the higher preference Google will give to your ad. Your ad will show in more prime locations for your particular target.

Additionally, your consumer will be more likely to trust your consistent ad. If someone finds your ad in search, and your ad copy is exactly what they had in mind, they click it. If they are directed to your cohesive landing page – which has the thing they’re looking for – they’re gonna buy from you.

Example: Make sure your keywords match your ad copy, and that your ad copy matches your landing page.

5. Make ad groups to target your keywords

Your campaigns can be super specific, and you can even make multiple ads within a campaign with ad groups.

Use this to target your keywords for each specific target market or search.

For example, you let’s say you sell shoes. You set up an ad campaign to promote your store, and a coupon you are offering for a limited time. You could create two different ads, with two different keyword targeting.

In this example, ad group #1 (Coupon #1)  targets people searching for discounted shoes. Ad group #2 (Coupon #2) targets people looking for particular types of shoes.

6. Think outside the box

Don’t limit your ad keywords to the obvious. As you know, popular keywords are highly sought after. The more demand there is for a keyword, the more you will need to pay for a click from it.

Increase your ROI, and connect with the people that are looking for your business offerings. Get creative, and think of different searches your customer is doing. The key is to keep your eyes open for other areas that will provide valuable keyword insight.

For example, if you’re a real estate agent promoting a new condo listing use keyword phrases such as:

  • Where can I register for my wedding gifts
  • How to send money to my kid in college
  • Relocation services

Think of common spelling mistakes or alternatives too, like this Chevrolet dealer did. I searched for “auto detailers” and their “auto dealer” ad showed up:

7. How many keywords do I need?

To get the best ROI from your paid advertising, use 5 – 20 keywords per ad group. Any more than 20, and you’re likely not targeting effectively – which means you’re throwing money away. Any less than 5 and your ad is not going to reach the eyeballs you need.

8. Should I use the Keyword Planner?

Remember Google’s awesome Keyword Tool? Well, it no longer exists. (Yeah, too many SEO bloggers, etc were using it …)

The Keyword Planner combines the old Keyword Tool with Traffic Estimator. Like the Keyword Tool, it gives you keyword ideas with the level of competition for each, and how often the terms are searched. It also gives you estimated traffic data and suggested bids per keyword.

Use it to get lots of additional keyword ideas, and determine the quality of your ROI for each word.

If Competition for a keyword is Low, and the Avg. Monthly searches is fairly high – this is a good keyword to use.

9. Use negative keywords

Negative keywords are a type of keyword. They are like the opposite of your keywords – they tell Google when NOT to show your ads.

Negative keywords can increase your click-through rates (and ROI), by not showing your ads for certain searches that aren’t related to your product or service.

For example, let’s say you sell clothes. You only sell men’s clothing. Use “women”, “children” and “teens” as negative words. Any search with these negative words will not show your ad.

Negative keywords are a more advanced method of targeting to your market. But they’re incredibly effective to increase your ad spend bottom line.

10. Understand matching options

Google gives you a number of keyword matching options. This gives you control over how closely your keywords have to match the search query that triggers your ad. The main matching options are broad, exact and phrase.

Broad match is the default setting for your keywords. It shows your ad for searches with your keywords, similar phrases, and variations related to your target.

Phrase match enables you to tighten your keyword matches. This option will show your ad for your precise keyword phrases, with variations (such as spelling), and words before or after the query.

Exact match is just that. This option will only show your ad when an exact match of your keyword phrase is searched for (with minor variations, such as spelling).

This is a more advanced Keyword tool. If you want to learn more, check out Google’s Support Pages.


As with any online advertising campaign, it’s essential to monitor your results both during and after your campaign. Use your analytics, and tools like Google’s search term report to optimize your keywords.

Want to learn more about Google AdWords, and how you can run online advertising for your small business? Check out these related articles:

What do you think? What are you top tips for Google AdWords keywords? Share your comments below!

Written by Krista Bunskoek @ Wishpond


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