6 Ways to Accurately (and Quickly) Identify Your Brand’s Most Effective Keywords

When it comes to PPC marketing, everyone knows that the keywords you choose can completely make or break your digital advertising efforts. But identifying which keywords are actually helping you achieve your marketing goals can be like going through a hall of mirrors. You might think you’re headed in a good direction, only to find yourself at a solid wall that doesn’t allow any additional progress.

So how can you go about identifying those keywords that deliver high clickthroughs (and even more importantly) high conversions? Thankfully, you don’t have to try to navigate this maze on your own. Here are a few straightforward methods that will help you identify the keywords that can have the biggest impact for your brand. By focusing on the right data points, you can identify your top performers and even find new high-performance keywords.

1) Above-Average CTR

To identify your best keywords, your first go-to resource should be the metrics provided to you through AdWords itself. Adwords UI allows you to examine keyword performance over a set time period and then filter results based on the metrics that you’re most interested in.

It should hardly be any surprise, then, that one of the first metrics you should focus on is clickthrough rate (CTR). According to Hubspot, the average CTR for PPC search ads is 1.91%, though this number can vary significantly from industry to industry, with rates as low as 1.35% for legal services and as high as 3.40% for dating sites.

Adwords UI will also display the average CTR for your account as a whole. As you subsequently go through each keyword individually, you can quickly determine which keywords are providing an above-average CTR, and which ones are underperforming.

2) Above-Average Conversions

AdWords UI can also be used to identify the keywords that are delivering where it matters most—conversions. After all, a keyword with a high CTR and a below-average conversion rate isn’t actually doing much to help your business (especially if your industry has an average CPC of $50). While improper audience targeting or a poor landing page could be contributing to low conversions, you should carefully examine the keywords themselves to determine whether they should remain a part of your campaign.

So what is a good conversion rate for PPC? Once again, your benchmark will vary by industry, but the Hubspot report cited earlier found that the average PPC conversion rate (combining all industries) is 2.70%. Your average will likely be different than this, but understanding how you stack up compared to your industry average and using AdWords UI to identify poor performers will help ensure you don’t waste your hard-earned PPC budget.

3) Customer Acquisition Cost

Conversion rate often ties in with another key metric that can impact your PPC budget—your customer acquisition cost (CAC). Companies that deal with large quantities of paid search terms can find this metric extremely useful for finding the most cost-effective keywords.

Keep in mind that your CAC is not the same as your cost per click. The CAC is determined by taking the total amount of money you spent on a particular keyword and then dividing it by the number of conversions that keyword generated.

As Kissmetrics explains, you should carefully monitor your CAC and make sure it is lower than the average revenue generated by your customers. If your CAC is higher than what the average customer spends after converting, your keyword is causing you to lose money.

4) Quality Score

Quality score is another vital component to consider when determining the effectiveness of your keywords. As Google itself reveals, “Higher quality ads can lead to lower prices and better ad positions…the more relevant your ads and landing pages are to the user, the more likely it is that you’ll see higher Quality Scores.”

When examining metrics such as CTR, conversion rate and CAC, you should also investigate the quality score your of your ads. An under-performing keyword could have a lot more to do with poor ad content than the keyword itself, which will drive up your cost per click and reduce your number of impressions. Take the extra moment to look into your quality score for each keyword so you can accurately identify the real issue behind your poor performers.

5) Spying On the Competition

When finding the keywords that are going to be the most effective for your brand, you shouldn’t limit your research to your own PPC efforts. As Rory Witt of DigiMar explains, serious PPC marketers need to make use of online “spy tools” to uncover their own keyword gap and better “understand contemporary top keywords, advertisements and landing pages.”

Tools such as SpyFu and SEMrush are great resources to help you identify which keywords are the top performers for your competition, allowing you to discover keywords with high clickthrough and conversion rates that you may have previously overlooked.

By identifying what’s working for your competition and implementing it into your own campaign, you can tap into new customer bases and even put yourself on the path to outperform your fiercest rivals. Just remember to continue to run analytics on these new keywords to ensure they deliver equally beneficial results for you.

6) Impressions Matter

Before you rush off generating lists of keywords with the highest conversion rates and using it to find new high-performance keywords for your brand, don’t overlook the number of impressions that each keyword has had.

Consider the following situation: one of your chosen keywords has a 0% clickthrough rate. At first glance, that’s an obvious indicator that this keyword should be cut from your PPC campaign. But if that keyword only had five impressions during a one-month timeframe, you don’t have enough information to know for sure whether this truly indicates that the keyword is a low performer.

Because of this, you should set a reasonable threshold for impressions before you use CTR, conversion rate, and other data points to decide which are your top performers. In some cases, taking steps to increase your number of impressions may be necessary before you can accurately assess which keywords are the most effective for your company.

Parting Thoughts

At the end of the day, getting the most out of your PPC keywords is always going to require a bit of trial and error. But as you use these straightforward methods to identify your top performers, you’ll be in a better position to get more out of your PPC budget.

A clear picture of how your keywords perform can help you make key adjustments throughout the sales funnel, whether by changing your focus keywords or improving your landing page. Assessing keyword performance can ultimately be the key to transforming your digital marketing efforts so you can achieve the growth and profitability you desire.

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