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5 Tips for Dominating Your E-Commerce Keyword Research

July 19, 2018

Inheriting an e-commerce account can be a nightmare. If the previous account manager did a half-decent job setting it up, it’s probably already targeting all of the basic product-based keywords, meaning it’s tough to build things out much further.

The good news is, there’s always room for expansion. According to Google, 15% of searches are completely unique and have never been searched for before! So, how do you find these unique e-commerce keyword combinations? I turned to one of our in-house PPC experts, Nic D’Amato, to learn his secrets for building out retailers’ keyword lists.

nic d'amato

 That’s Nic, the brains behind these genius tactics.

Next time you need buildout inspiration, turn to these five clever e-commerce keyword research tips:

#1. Dig Through Your Dynamic Search Ad Queries

Sometimes it’s tough to think outside of the box, so why not commission Google to do the work for you? Rather than operating like traditional, keyword-based campaigns, Dynamic Search Ads (DSAs) leverage the power of Google’s organic web crawling technology to determine when to serve your ads.

dsa meme

Creating a DSA campaign is a cinch. Technically, you can add DSAs to a search campaign that is set to all features, but we recommend creating standalone DSA campaigns. All you need to do is set up dynamic ad targets, which are based on your site content. AdWords will use this data to identify a list of product categories. If a site is well-indexed, there are typically plenty of categories to choose from. If you want to focus your campaign on a specific product category or brand, you can get more granular and set ad targets for specific webpages. This allows you to create your own category based on a URL, page title, or page content.

You can then create ad groups to target specific categories or sections of your site. Next, create description lines for your ads (AdWords will add in a dynamically-generated headline and landing page), sit back, and let AdWords run the show.

Keep in mind, if you’re running additional search campaigns, you may wish to set your existing keywords as negatives for DSA campaigns. This ensures that you’re not cannibalizing your current keywords and are only leveraging DSAs to find brand new terms.

So…where are my e-commerce keywords?!

You may be wondering, how the heck can these keyword-free DSA campaigns be leveraged to find new keywords? AdWords actually provides a list of all of the search queries that your dynamic ads are matched to. Head to the Auto Target tab > See Search Terms section to check it out. This list is a goldmine for e-commerce advertisers. Not only will it help you identify obvious terms that you’ve forgotten to include in your account, you’re also likely to find new terms that you never would have thought to bid on.

holiday season keyword research

#2. Riff off Your Shopping Feeds

Nine times out of ten, the e-commerce clients that you inherit will already have Shopping campaigns up and running. The feeds used to manage these campaigns are a treasure chest worth of e-commerce keyword ideas. Take the top products from their feed lists and plug them into AdWords’ Keyword Planner. From there, you can get a good sense of the search volume for these items and identify other terms related to them. Just be sure to set geo-targeting for each search, to ensure you’re getting accurate traffic estimates.

google keyword planner

#3. Spy on Your Competitors

spy time

There’s nothing wrong with a little good-natured spying, in the name of client success. While you can’t directly access their account details, there are a few crafty ways to identify e-commerce terms they’re likely to be bidding on. The best part is, you don’t need to be a hacker to find these.

One sneaky tactic is to hit up the Keyword Planner, which has a feature that lets you drop in a URL to see which terms people are using to land on the site. AdWords’ expectation is that you’ll use it for your own site, but you can actually input any URL. So, plug your competitors’ landing pages into the “Your landing page” section and go to town. The tool will provide you with sets of keyword ideas and ad group ideas, all featuring terms that your competitor is probably bidding on.

keyword planner spy feature

You can also scout out competitors’ terms using WordStream’s Competitive Website Crawler. Just plug in your competitors’ URL and we’ll scrape the site to identify prominent terms that they’re likely to be bidding on.

competitive website crawler

#4. Hit Up Pinterest’s Promoted Pins

promoted pins feature

This tactic is actually the brain child of SEO pro Clay Cazier, which we learned a few months ago and have become huge fans of (check out his original article here). You can use Pinterest to get a solid understanding of the semantic phrases people are using to discuss your clients’ products and, because it has more of a sales/retail focus than other social media sites, it’s a great venue for conducting e-commerce keyword research.

If your client has a Pinterest for Business account, try using Promoted Pins to discover new keywords. Clay recommends initiating a Promoted Pins campaign and selecting the pin that best represents the one of your head terms. From there, plug in a term related to the pin. Pinterest will then spit back a list of related themes that can spark excellent ad group/keyword ideas.

pinterest promoted pins subject

This tactic is useful because it does not solely provide semantically-related variations of your seed keyword. It also includes terms that users associate with this word, giving you great insights into what your audience is interested in. Do a little brainstorming on these terms and you’re guaranteed to come up with some unique new keywords!

#5. Turn to Your Shopping Search Query Reports

shopping campaigns

Here at WordStream, we’re huge advocates of using Search Terms Reports to generate new keyword and negative keyword ideas. In fact, we even have a tool that helps you do this task more efficiently! You can certainly use this tactic to build out existing ad groups, but when it comes to e-commerce PPC accounts, Nic recommends paying extra special attention to your Shopping Campaigns’ search queries.

Remember, Shopping Campaigns operate solely based on a product feed, rather than keyword groupings. However, Google does track a list of queries that trigger the ads. Check this list regularly to identify their best performing search queries. Then, plug the top terms into the Keyword Planner to confirm that they have sufficient volume. If so, they’re probably worth adding to your search ad groups.

This list will certainly give you a leg up the next time you’re faced with doing keyword research for a new e-commerce client. What other tried and true tactics do you use to build out retailers’ keyword lists?

Erin Sagin

Erin Sagin is the Global SMB Solutions Go To Market Lead at Google.