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The Price is Right! How to Research and Bid on Profitable Keywords on Google AdWords

Hello and welcome to another game of The Price is Right! Keyword Edition.

Finding the right keywords can drive you bonkers and shouldn’t feel like a game of Plinko. Which keyword will hit the bullseye and which ones are bargain games?

Source: Giphy

Well, it’s time for you to take the hot seat and learn all about keywords. How to find them, how to bid on them, and how to get rid of the inefficient ones. So, what do you say? Are you coming or going? It’s time for you to make your move! Don’t worry, we won’t play no switcheroo on ya!

Before we get started, check out our Co-Founder Dan Pratt and Todd Saunders play The Price is Right Keyword Edition in a fantastic episode of Hawk Talks!

(pssst.. if you caught all 8 semi-forced Price is Right Games in the intro, you get a brownie point!)

What is a Keyword?

Keywords are words or phrases that define the subject of a certain topic.

I know, that’s hardly a definition, but hear me out!

If someone searches on Google, “Best affordable potato slicer in USA,” your primary keyword is “potato slicer.” On Google AdWords, advertisers bid on these keywords to determine which search results they’ll show up for on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP for short).

Now, let’s say you bid on the keyword, “potato slicer,” do you want to show up for “potato quality videos?”

No! That’s wasted cash. And nobody like wasted cash. Luckily, Google helps you avoid that headache via keyword match types.

What are Keyword Match Types?

Keyword match types are specific parameters advertisers can set to control which searches trigger your ads to appear. There are four core match types:


  1. Broad Match: This default setting shows your ads on searches that are in any way related to your keywords.
  2. + Broad Match Modifier: By adding a ‘+’ symbol on your keyword, your ad will show up for broad search queries that contain your keywords.
  3. “Phrase Match”: Your ads will show on search queries that contain your exact keyword phrase in the exact order, but may also show up on searches with words added in front or at the end of the query. Phrase match keywords are indicated by adding “quotation marks.”
  4. [Exact Match]: Your ads will only show up for queries that are the EXACT same phrase or word you’re bidding on with no additional words or phrases. However, Google will show your ads if it is related to a common misspelling or a super closely related search term. Exact match keywords are wrapped in [brackets].

Each match type has its advantages and disadvantages, and there are different circumstances where each individual match type will be the most effective.

For a full deep-dive on keyword match types, read our ultimate guide to AdWords Match Types.

Negative Keywords

Now you’ve determined where you want your ads to show, it’s just as important to find out where you don’t want to be. If you’re a brand called “Potato Sneakers,” you don’t want to appear on searches for “Potato Chips.”

There are three types of negative keywords:

  1. Negative Broad Match: Stops your ad from showing if all negative keywords are searched
  2. Negative Phrase Match: Stops your ad from showing if your search includes your exact keywords, but your ad will show if the search flips your keywords in a different order.
  3. Negative Exact Match: Prevent your ad from showing if it matches your negative keyword exactly. If your negative keywords is “Potato Sneakers,” the search “Potato sneakers” will not show your ad, but will show on the search, “Sneaker brand Potato.”

Further reads: read our guide on how to add negative keywords in bulk.

The Ultimate AdWords Match Type Cheat Sheet

What are Long Tail Keywords?

Long tail keywords are super specific keywords with lower search volume, but drive higher quality traffic with much greater purchase intent. People who are looking for a more specific brand and model of an office chair know exactly what they want and are better poised to purchase compared to someone who just searches “best office chairs.”

Source: Giphy

PPC advertisers bidding on long tail keywords have greater opportunities to create more relevant ads that other competitors might not have the time for. However, if you are bidding on hundreds of long tail keywords, things can get a littttle hectic, so it’s integral to find the most profitable long tail keywords!

Now let’s dig in to uncover those coveted opportunities.

Free Keyword Planning Tools

Okay now that we know what keywords are, let’s explore some free tools to help you identify keywords that are most relevant to your business.

  1. AdWords KeyWord Planner
    The best place to start is the AdWords keyword planner, an incredibly powerful tool that provides keyword suggestions, average monthly search volume data, how competitive that keyword is, and approximate keyword bid prices. Remember, you can get average monthly search data if you’re already spending money on Google AdWords. If you’re not, it’ll only give you approximate numbers (womp womp).
  2. AdWords & Seo Keyword Permutation Generator
    This tool by Dan Zambonini is a keyword tool that helps generate relevant keywords associated with your current keywords. You can manage your suggested keywords by different match types, which is a neat feature. Best part? It’s free, easy to use, and pretty straightforward!
  3. Soovle
    Soovle is also a free tool that suggests similar and relevant keywords, but for all the major search engines, including YouTube, Wikipedia, Yahoo, Bing,, eBay, Amazon,, and Overstock.

Understand your keywords bids better using the AdWords Bid Simulator

The AdWords Bid Simulator is a tool that lets you simulate different bids on your keywords using historical performance data. Let’s say you have a max CPC bid of $5 for a certain keyword, but want to see how you would’ve performed if you only bid $3.

The simulator uses data across AdWords Search and Display network, and can calculate how well or how poorly your ad would’ve done with that adjustment over the past 7 days.

Unfortunately, it can not predict future ad performance.The AdWords Bid Simulator can measure lookback changes in:

Identify Keyword Opportunities Using Your Search Terms Report

Do you want to know which Google searches are triggering your search ads rather than playing a dubious guessing game?

Well, you’re in luck!

The search terms report lists all the search terms that have triggered your ads in the past. It includes the “match type” to indicate how closely the search terms are related to your keywords.

Using this information, you can identify the highest performing search terms and them to your ad groups as keywords. If your ads are showing up for non-relevant searches, add them as negative keywords!

How do you manage keywords on Google Shopping?

Google Shopping ads appear on the top of the Google Search Results, whenever someone makes a product-related search on Google. It looks something like this:


But unlike traditional search campaigns, advertisers can not bid on certain keywords in Shopping Campaigns. Instead, advertisers can only set priorities and negative keywords.

Let me explain.

Shopping Campaigns have three different priorities: low, medium, and high that determine which ads show up first for a certain keyword. For example, if someone searches “Nike Sneakers,” you may have multiple products that qualify, but the priority settings will determine which product you want to show first.

Start off by building out 3 campaigns of the same product, each with a different priority setting – one high, one medium, and one low.

HIGH PRIORITY: Make this first campaign a broad, non-branded campaign, with more specific negative keywords. For example, if you’re selling running shoes, add negative keywords like “Nike, running, or basketball.” This means your ad will show for very broad search queries.

MEDIUM PRIORITY: Your second campaign should also be non-branded with the only negative keyword being the brand name. This ad will capture more specific queries, and the branded negative keyword will push down the more specific branded searches to the next campaign.

LOW PRIORITY: This is the most specific, long-tail campaign, with no negative keywords. This will capture all specific queries and filter out the more generic searches. Remember, more specific search terms have a higher chance for conversion, so advertisers can place higher bids on this campaign.

For a more in-depth explanation, check out our ultimate guide to the Shopping Ad Priority Funnel or watch this YouTube explainer by our CEO, Todd Saunders.

Come on down, you’re now a keyword hero!

Congratulations! You’ve made it all this way. We’re proud of you. Now we’re going to flip the script on you. We’re curious:

  1. What is your biggest challenge with choosing the right keywords?
  2. What are some helpful tools you’ve come across?

Let us know what you think in the comments below, and let’s chat! See you soon!

Further reads:

  1. Guide to AdWords MatchTypes
  2. How to add Negative Keywords
  3. Automated Bid Strategies

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About the Author

Journeyman of the wild wild west of Digital Advertising. Also doubling as an unofficial Taco Bell ambassador. Tweet at me @JonJmPark