Popular Keywords - How to Manage High-Volume Keywords in PPC
Popular keywords and high-volume key phrases seem pretty straightforward, from a search perspective.
You target the terms in organic search optimization and through your pay-per-click campaigns, and acquire as much of that Web traffic as possible. Then move on to the much more complex task of managing the long tail of search, right?
Well, maximizing the potential of high-traffic keywords is actually more complex than it looks. There are a number of best practices and a handful of potential issues which arise when incorporating high-traffic keyword terms into your search campaigns:
- High Cost and High Competition - If you know that a term gets searched on a lot, chances are a lot of other people do too. The market is flooded with free to cheap keyword research services which offer anyone with Internet access the same list of competitive keywords you're targeting.
- Broad Phrases Have Questionable Intent - For a phrase to get a lot of search volume, it typically has to be a short key phrase. In fact, it's often the case that the most searched keywords have multiple meanings. It's difficult to target a term (particularly as you pay for each click) when a fair number of searchers are after something slightly to wholly different than what you're offering. All of a sudden your "high-volume keyword" offers slightly less relevant traffic for your business.
- A Short List of Keywords is a Stagnant List of Keywords - While the long tail is extremely fluid and unpredictable, the most popular keywords are far more stable. These keywords' search volumes rarely change, and focusing a search campaign around acquiring this traffic can quickly lead to traffic plateaus.
But, for all the buzz surrounding long-tail keywords, there's still a lot of traffic in the high-traffic, most searched words (go figure).
So the question becomes how to attack high-volume keywords within your search marketing campaign. That's precisely what we'll deal with here.
Paying Less for Popular Keyword Searches
Popular keywords are often the most expensive keywords. This is because, as we mentioned, the traffic-driving keywords aren't a secret. Your competitors know about them, and are likely bidding them up.
For this reason, if you want your AdWords ad to rank for a popular keyword, you'll need to improve Quality Score in order to lower the amount you're bidding on it within your pay-per-click campaign.
The Quality Score algorithm is based on a few core elements, and they all revolve around relevance. To improve the relevance (and lower the cost) of your keywords, it’s important to:
- Raise your click-through rate – Your ad’s click-through rate (CTR) is one of if not the most important factors in your Quality Score and therefore has a huge effect on your cost per click (CPC). Some proven ways to improve CTR include writing keyword-focused ad copy that appeals to searchers on an emotional level, and making use of all the ad extensions you can, such as sitelink extensions.
- Do regular landing page optimization – Your landing pages should be focused and highly relevant to your keyword and ad. If an ad is relevant to a query, a searcher is more likely to click, and if a landing page offers similar messaging to the ad they just clicked on, a searcher is more likely to convert.
Grouping Your Most Popular Search Keywords
Let's imagine we're running a website that sells electronic gadgets. We sell items such as cell phones, laptops, and LCD monitors. We take a look at our log files, and note that organic search is driving the most traffic for the keyword terms:
- Cell phones
- LCD monitors
Some free keyword research confirms that these are high-traffic keywords. So, what do we do with them?
The problem is, these words aren't closely related. If we attempt to cram these three words into a single Ad Group in AdWords, we'll get slammed on Quality Score and will have to pay a lot every time someone clicks on our ad. A better idea is to give each term its own group.
Better yet: while we're creating a keyword group for each of these terms, why not surround it with keywords that search engines will view as closely related? We'll also want to make sure that these keywords are all linguistically similar: that way, we can easily write ad text variations that speak to the entire Ad Group.
You can use the Free Keyword Tool to find other keyword terms that are closely related, starting with the most popular keywords:
You can then download the full list of keywords in a CSV format that you can upload right into AdWords!
Going Beyond the Most Popular Searches
Remember: While it seems counterintuitive, focusing only on popular keywords isn’t enough. As an SEO strategy, it’s extremely difficult to drive traffic through popular keywords alone, because the competition is so high. The same goes for paid search. And either way, for healthy growth you’ll need to target mid- and long-tail searches.
Getting beyond broad keywords means that you can:
- Grow Your Audience - It's important to overcome the stagnancy of the traffic metrics associated with a handful of the most popular keywords in your vertical.
- Don't Waste Money on Unqualified Traffic - It's equally important that you don’t waste all your advertising budget by bidding on irrelevant, costly keywords that don’t have high intent and don’t convert.
Learn more about how you can grow your audience without over-expanding into irrelevant, unreceptive realms by reading more about: