Optimization Means More than Just Refinement: Two Ways to Expand Your PPC Keyword List

February 26, 2020

In many cases, expanding your paid search marketing reach can have as great of an impact on results as refining your existing campaigns. As you look to expand your paid search campaigns, you want to focus on two core means of discovery:

  • "Wider" - Going "wider" means identifying new keyword verticals that didn't previously exist within your campaigns. This often comes in the form of new ad groups targeting wholly new keyword ideas that you hadn't previously introduced into your campaigns.
  • "Deeper" - Going "deeper" in this context means mining your existing campaigns for new targeting opportunities. The best way to do this is by looking at the search query data generated by your existing campaigns.

WordStream's latest product release offers some tools to help advertisers perform just these sorts of expansion efforts, so we'll walk through some specific examples of how the tool set can be used to improve upon both width and depth in your search marketing campaigns.


Broaden keyword selection with the AdWords Grader

Identifying New Paid Search Keyword Verticals

One of the most common things a paid search manager (whether the person managing the campaign is a full-time PPC manager or just juggling pay-per-click as one of numerous responsibilities) is tasked with is "getting more x" -- x being leads or sales. That would actually be easy enough, but of course you're not allowed to spend any more per conversion (often you can't spend any more at all!).

To help with this, WordStream built some in-line tools that give advertisers a chance to leverage the trillion-plus search query database that powers the Keyword Tool API and The Free Keyword Tool. Let's look at a specific example of how this works.

It's certainly no secret that WordStream focuses much of its product efforts on improving Quality Score as well as creating a lot of great Quality Score content and free Quality Score resources (fill out the form and grab the spreadsheet: it'll change your life), so it's not surprising that people looking for Quality Score information have a good experience on WordStream.com and often wind up as customers. Let's find them some more Quality Score opportunities.

Within the new WordStream tool interface, we can simply highlight the group we want to expand (in this case Quality Score) and click Add Keywords. We're then presented with a nice list of expansion opportunities:


Click to enlarge, but the idea here is that we have a couple of interesting opportunities:

  • AdCenter Quality Score - This is an interesting new opportunity -- if things like Quality Score and AdWords Quality Score perform well, why not AdCenter Quality Score? We could also use the modifiers from our existing account that we already know perform well, much the same as with local PPC keyword list generation.
  • How to Get a High Quality Score in AdWords - This might be a nice informational query that we can use to send people to our Quality Score Tool Kit so that we can start a conversation/relationship with them.

As with any keyword suggestion tool, we don't want to accept every single suggestion, but as you can see above the interface allows us to quickly accept or reject a keyword and have it integrated within our campaigns. 

Digging Deeper into Your Pay-Per-Click Campaigns

Now that we've seen how to use keyword suggestion to add breadth to our campaigns, we can look at how to dig deeper and expand on verticals that are already working by leveraging our own search query data. Since Larry would probably kill me if I showed you WordStream's search query report, I'll just show a quick screenshot of how you'd generate a list of "search query only" keyword suggestions with all the proprietary goodness blurred to protect the keywords' identities (and of course to protect me, as well):


What this report is doing is returning you a nice, clean list of search queries that have driven traffic from PPC but aren't yet added as keywords in your account. The tool is also presenting you with more information about estimated monthly search volume and competition -- this is valuable because we can use this in concert with our own data about the query to get an understanding of not only how the query has already performed, but also what type of potential exists for it and what the auction looks like for this specific query (as currently it's been entered into the auction "rolled up" under a keyword).

From here we can add this search query as a keyword and start to control bids (and match types) for the specific query, often allowing us to get more volume at a better cost from that particular query.

Keyword expansion has to be approached with the same sort of care as any paid search activity, but can definitely help you develop a significant increase in pay-per click returns. If you're interested, you can see what types of pay-per-click keyword expansion ideas the WordStream tool can offer you by trying it for free today.

Tom Demers

Tom Demers

Tom Demers is Co-Founder & Managing Partner at Measured SEM and Cornerstone Content.