Take It One Step Further and Use PPC for Keyword Research


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This is a guest post by Nitin Aggarwal. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

By now, you may already be familiar with the foundation of keyword research to search engine optimize your company’s website. Still, if you truly want to get a leg up on your competition, it really pays to take it one step further and use PPC for your keyword research.

PPC As A Reality Check

PPC, or pay per click, advertising allows you to create ad campaigns that will display on the search engines, like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. However, we are going to look at these same campaigns from the point of understanding your market and doing keyword research. The reason that this is so effective for keyword research is that through a PPC ad campaign you can get actual statistics of the impressions, click through rates, and keywords being used to actually bring sales to your website. In short, the data you receive from your PPC campaign will give you a legitimate report of what customers are actually searching for to get to your website instead of just what you think or hope they may be looking for within your niche market. Remember most keyword tools give only approximations. A PPC campaign is like a reality check.

Testing, Testing, Testing

Why this is so vital is because SEO means a lot of work and time. It can often take months to get to the top of a niche for your chosen keywords, and if at that stage you realize that these keywords are not that profitable then there is little you can do about it. A PPC campaign gives you a shorter, faster way to do that testing.

The other thing is that this kind of research can reveal the inner desires or your market that cannot be researched by any keyword tool. A well know example is the book “The Four Hour Work Week”, Tim Ferris. He came to that title through split testing with Google AdWords campaigns. He basically created several campaigns with all potential names he had, and tracked which one got the highest CTR. Clever huh?

Finding Nuances And Optimizing for Them

A PPC campaign also allows you to fine tune certain parameters on your keywords — E.g. when we were looking to optimize our campaign for the term “virtual assistant,” Google keyword tool will show us almost equal statistics for “virtual assistant” and “virtual assistants”. However an exact PPC match campaign showed that the first one is being used almost four times more than the later one. If we hadn’t done that test and gone ahead with using the later then we would have been getting four times lesser traffic and hence four times lesser clients. So, you see what difference it can make.

Once you start to run your ads with broad match, you will receive data detailing the long tail variations of your keywords that are often unreported in commonly used keyword research tools. Some variations in the example above may include “offshore virtual assistants” and “remote virtual assistants”. These long tail keywords were unreported by regular keyword research tools, yet they were uncovered through the results we received in our PPC ad campaign. These kind of keywords are easy SEO targets. It is often to your advantage to target your SEO campaign toward the narrower, long tail keywords earlier on because there is normally less competition, and they are easier to rank for right away.

Let us take it to next level.

You can use tools like KeywordSpy to uncover what keywords your competitors are bidding on and find other relevant keywords for your SEO campaign. Many times, organic keyword analysis will not give you these overlooked keywords that bring in real sales. You can use a keyword tool like Keywordspy that will be able to provide you with a list of Google keywords and Adwords keywords for your competitors. Remember if your competitors are bidding on those terms then they must be profitable.

Remember, this is one of the best way to do lateral keyword research. If you are in a highly competitive niche then this kind of tool can give you all the data you need early on. Importantly this kind of tool can reveal keywords that you might not even guess. (E.g. we found a lot of our competitors bidding on book names like “Four Hour Work Week”; now that is something that we were not expecting at all.)

The truth of the matter is that it is very important to go beyond standard keyword research if you want to create a profitable SEO campaign. Yes, much of your SEO campaign has to do with building authority, ranking for multiple terms, getting the best back links, but with right keyword research you can improve on the most important metric: ROI.

About the Author: Nitin runs a virtual assistant company — OffshoreAlly.com. Nitin is a SEO enthusiast and has been marketing on web for almost four years now. He and his team are engaged in SEO for various websites and provide virtual assistant services to other SEO agencies.

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4 Responses to “Take It One Step Further and Use PPC for Keyword Research”

  • Vivek Parmar

    keyword research is necessary but one thing i like to add use common keywords so that anyone can easily find and helps you to achieve higher search engine ranking

  • Vlatko

    To be honest, I do not believe in this “Keyword Research”. It’s like going the other way around.

    Instead of working to get high position for a keywords that naturally fit your site/blog (even they’re not so profitable), you first research which keywords are “profitable” and then work to fit them in your site/blog.

    My experience tells me that it really doesn’t matter if keywords are “hot” or not. There are lots of websites that rank high for “poor” keywords and are still making tons of money.

    The real point is “apply basic SEO” on site, get backlinks with posting great content and at some point find a way to be featured on a well established site. If your site is good enough the snowball will start rolling.

    • Daniel Scocco

      I disagree. Keyword research is vital for any website/marketing campaign. What you shouldn’t do is equate keyword research with “opening Google Keywords Tool, finding the most popular keywords inside a niche, and targeting them”. That approach surely won’t work.

      Keyword research is more about understanding your customers/readers, and making sure your content reflects what they are looking for/interested in.

      • Vlatko

        Well @Daniel, that is correct if you use PPC Keyword research for marketing purposes. That would be the right way.

        But what article is suggesting is “do a keyword research to SEO your company’s website” by using “PPC for your keyword research”

        In other words find out which keywords are “hottest” for your site by using AdWords for some time and then “sprinkle” your website with those keywords to gain natural ranking.

        Nothing wrong with that either, but my opinion is why wasting time and energy (and money in this case) with that, if you can get better results with the points I mentioned in my previous comment.

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