I'm building a methodology for building keyword lists which have direction relation to search intents + stages of a buying cycle/funnel.

So I'm setting up a campaign for my web agency (promoting a new proprietary method to build websites for brand which can be reshaped for placement in various distribution channels -- we call it a "page tool kit"). This "page tool kit" that we custom develop for brands is most beneficial to clients that want to drive ROI for their investment in marketing -- because essentially, the more shapes and forms the page tool kit can take (website, landing pages, marketing funnels), well the less the brand needs to focus on design/development of tools, and more efforts towards distributing their message + testing funnels. So I'm currently mapping out what potential customers may search for in relation to becoming a potential customer for our agency. Notice that the earlier search intents are geared towards searchers with less awareness of the web as a vehicle to drive revenue -- while the latter search intents are geared towards searchers that are quite educated on what they need: 1. Have a dream/want to make money. 2. Build a business (digital vs. non-digital). 3. Notice they need a sales/marketing strategy. 4. Notice they need a sales/marketing tool (custom page tool kit vs. landing page/funnel platforms). 5. Notice they need distribution of communications (advertising/marketing management). My questions are: 1) Given that most would say "focus your efforts/budget on buyers in the shopping stage of the funnel" -- so search intents #4-5-6.. is it worth pursuing setting up the campaign for keywords related to search intent #3 - where you could perhaps jumpstart their process to investing in a partner that could set them up properly (basically avoiding to have them conduct their own research which are they search intents #4-5). 2) If I would focus on search intents #3-4-5 only, then I'd build problem/solution keyword lists around each intent (both in short-tail + negatives and long-tail variations) to be as granular as possible. What's confusing me a little is the fact that Brad Geddes in his book "Advanced Google AdWords" says that keywords could be split into the following categories: explicit keywords, problem keywords, symptom keywords, informational queries. But if you actually look at the it holistically, in many occasions problem keywords are symptom keywords of one another, and symptom keywords and problem keywords etc. Taking his examples: Explicit keyword: Dermatologist Problem keyword: Acne Symptom keyword: Oily skin Product name keywords: Mint Cleanser Informational query: Home remedies for acne So if you look at this, I mean couldn't the "Mint Cleanser" be categorized as the explicit keyword, and the "Oily skin" as the problem? The reason why I'm asking is because I'm trying to build a keyword list for search intents #3-4-5, and as we all know, keywords could be written in different forms as seen above: problems, symptoms, service/product names, informational queries. And I don't want to waste time setting up keywords in forms which I know are less likely to lead towards conversions -- for example certain types of informational queries. If as a product I sold guides on "how to make your own page tool kit", then maybe it would be worth looking at, but since it's a service -- we know that those intents are probably just investments towards "branding", and for a small business it may be an investment not worth making compared to others. Do any of you have recommendations for resources (books, links) to build keyword lists in relation to search intents + funnel stages? I find that Brad's book is a bit vague. Any help is appreciated! Cheers, Michal


We have an overlapping but non-competing interest in this area.

What I'd recommend is ... skip the books or guides on Google AdWords or the Bing equivalent. You've already read enough, and your question is framed with enough specific detail that you're obviously no slouch and probably past the beginner stage, I'd say. Reading guides would provide steadily diminishing returns. DIY time!

Brainstorm keyword ideas. Research the search stats. Once you feel you've covered all the relevant search queries and prioritized them, then it's time to run experiments.

That's why I say skip the books. At a certain stage, you have to leave biology textbooks behind and go dissect some frogs or observe the live frogs (your customers?) in nature.

Nothing is more empirical than running an efficient SEM campaign. You know this. Rules are starting points to b left behind in this space. Books and guides might provide some preliminary tips (at best) or be authoritarian (at worst).

Just arrange your spending alternatives as hypotheses. Measure which strategy performs better using some carefully planned A/B testing over a statistically significant period of time / impressions / clicks.

Set aside the generalizations. No author will give you what you need because you're already thinking of your problem at a granular level of detail.

Brainstorm. Plan tests. Measure. Rinse & repeat.

If you want to put 2 heads together, I might be able to throw out some extra ideas. But you don't necessarily need another person.

Answered 9 years ago

I agree with Joseph in that at some point you have to begin running campaigns to test your theories. After a few months or a year, you'll have a lot of data that shows which categories convert, and which don't.

One thing I'd add is that the higher you get up in the funnel, the more expensive it is to use AdWords to generate awareness. AdWords is great for high intent terms such as when someone searches for a plumber. When they search "plumber in San Francisco," for example, you know they need a plumber in San Francisco and are ready to buy. But once you get higher in the funnel for a service like yours with more vague generic terms, the more expensive it is to generate initial awareness with AdWords. With that in mind, I'd consider other traffic sources for earlier stages and AdWords more for higher intent terms.

Answered 9 years ago

While it's really good to be keeping the buying cycle in mind while producing your initial keyword target list, don't over complicate it.

I'd need to know more about your budget, customer LTV, sales process, etc. to give a more definitive answer but to keep things simple I'm going to assume you have a small budget, small sales team, and a sales process in the developing stages.

If those assumptions are correct, I would focus on the small subset of keywords you deem to have the most intent. Get very specific and make very granular ad groups with very specific ad text.

I would use exact match for a short time and see the results. Based on the results I'd likely launch a broad match modified version of the campaign and then use keyword query reports to develop more encompassing exact match keyword lists and negative keyword lists.

Easy to build from there.

My teams and i have managed ~$2million a month in ppc budget, so this is an area I can provide some really good insight into. If you have further questions feel free to set up a call.

- mike

Answered 9 years ago

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