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How to Choose the Right Google Ads Keywords for Your Campaigns

So you’ve got the Google Ad Grant (great!), and you’re setting up your first campaign. Once you’ve organized your Google Ads campaign settings and outlined your ad groups, you’ll need to add Google Ads keywords, another important factor in your ads’ ability to capture user interest and create impact.
When we talk about a keyword in terms to Google Ads, we’re talking about the words and phrases that you link to each of your ad groups based on their topic groupings. These keywords correspond to the words and phrases searched on the user’s end, which will trigger your ads if matched appropriately. This is pretty straightforward, but there are a lot of keywords out there. Use these guidelines to sort through the available data and choose the right Google Ads keywords for your campaigns.

What makes a good Google Ads keyword?

Before we walk through the tools you can use to look for Google Ads keywords, let’s discuss what characteristics constitute a valuable keyword on the Google Ad Grant platform:

1. High search volume

Not unlike the way we approach organic search keywords for SEO, we also want our Google Ads keywords to be have a high monthly search volume to give us a better chance of reaching more users. Google Ads will actually flag keywords added to your account with a ‘low search volume’ notice—these words are allowed, but will be unlikely to serve your ads if no one is searching for them!

2. Topic specificity

Breaking down your ad campaigns into as many logical ad groups as possible offers guardrails for brainstorming and choosing the most relevant and useful keywords. Adding these specific, long-tail keywords gives you a better chance of creatively reaching your audience at the level of their search intent, and may also result in less competition.

3. Appearance in your ad’s landing page

Ideally, most of the Google Ads keywords that you associate with a particular ad actually appear in the landing page that your ad links to. While this isn’t always possible, it should still be your goal to create a cohesive user journey from search term to landing page, so that your users never feel as though they have been taken in by your ad.

4. Policy-compliant

Per the 2018 updates to Google Ad Grant policy, you do NOT want to choose keywords for your account that are single words, branded by other organizations, or overly generic (‘free videos’ or ‘today’s news’).

Where do I find Google Ads keywords?

Now that you know what to look for, you can use the following tools to brainstorm topics and find the best Google Ads keywords for each of your campaigns and ad groups.

 

1. Google Trends

You’re an expert on your topic, but the way you speak about it is probably different than the way your audience speaks about it (or searches for it). You can learn more about how your audience searches for your topic through Google Trends.
For example, Whole Whale client Greater Than AIDS has resources about the Affordable Care Act, so they’ve used “Affordable Care Act” as a keyword. However, the keyword “Obamacare” has four times the search volume. By using “Obamacare” as a keyword, GTA has the potential to reach more people. Use Google Trends to break out of your professionalized vocabulary and get in touch with your demographic.
 

2. Existing Queries

You can use Google Search Console, or the acquisition report in Google Analytics, to see which search terms are already bringing users to your site.
Take our client Power Poetry, for example. By looking at their organic search queries, they noticed that users coming to their site were crafting searches for specific types of poetry, such as slam poetry and spoken word, rather than general poetry how-tos. Using these insights, Power Poetry has been able to add specific Google Ads keywords tailored to their visitors’ questions.
 

3. Your Website

Scan your own site content for keywords and phrases that you can include in your Google Ads account. Ideally, the landing pages you’re driving users to with your Google ads include rich copy and clear CTAs, and feature or spark ideas for ideal keywords. You can also use the in-platform Google Ads Keyword Planner to get recommendations for keywords based upon the content on your—or a competitor’s—landing page. Speaking of competitors…
 

4. Your Competition’s Keywords

Use tools like iSpionage and SimilarWeb to see which keywords competitors or similar organizations are bidding on. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?
 

5. Pop Culture and Current Events

Tap into new audiences by staying attuned to the world outside of your organization.A few years ago, our client the National Aphasia Association began bidding on keywords related to Game of Thrones after fans of one of the most widely discussed shows on television were speculating that a character had aphasia. Because NAA was paying attention to pop culture, they were able to reach and educate a new audience on their topic.
 
Now that you’re a keyword expert, start looking for your own Google Ads keywords! The more you test out keyword ideas in your account the more you’ll learn, but if you’d like more training before you start building, check out our Whole Whale University course on the Google Ad Grant for Nonprofits for detailed information and walkthroughs on Ad Grant account management.