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Keywords in Google AdWords

parole chiave in adwords

Parole parole parole, sang Mina on musical stages all over Italy. But if in the case of the great singer words were just words, in the world of the web words are something important.

They are the key to reach users. The closer the chosen keywords (for our site or our online advertising campaign, for example) are to the search terms used by web surfers, the easier it will be to find us on the first page or, even better, in the first position.

In this article, we will specifically discuss how keywords work in Google AdWords, i.e. within an advertising system based on online auctions.


Long and short-tailed keywords

Le parole chiave, keywords in inglese, sono degli elementi testuali che, parola di Google:

Keywords are textual elements that, in Google's words:

"Words or phrases describing your product or service that you choose to help determine when and where your ad can appear"

We have called them textual elements precisely because they can be more than just keywords: they can be long tail keywords!

parole chiave a coda lunga e corta

Standard keyword (short tail): text elements consisting of up to two terms

Long-tail keywords: text elements consisting of three or more terms

Now let's take an example:
Rome restaurant: short-tail keyword
Restaurant Rome downtown: long tail keyword
Restaurant pizzeria Rome in the city centre: long tail keyword


A long-tail keyword corresponds to greater precision but fewer searches performed. Going back to the example we gave above, you can see how more searches are likely to be for Rome restaurant than for Restaurant pizzeria Rome in the city centre, which is much more specific. On the other hand, the user who types the long-tail keyword Restaurant pizzeria Rome in the city centre is likely to find what he is looking for more quickly.

It is important to use both types of keywords, to position oneself in both general and specialised searches.

Short-tail keywords and long-tail keywords is an important first subdivision that we need to make in order to start finding our way in the big world of keywords.


Keyword matching options

Let us now look at another difference in the use of keywords in AdWords, which allows keywords to be further subdivided into:

  • Broad match 
  • Modified match: + symbol
  • Phrase match: contained between two " "
  • Exact match: contained between two [ ].
Going back to the previous example, we will have:
Rome restaurant: broad match 
+Rome +restaurant: modified match
"Rome restaurant": phrase match
[Rome restaurant]: exact match

Let us see in this infographic how these types of correspondences translate:

tipi di corrispondenza delle parole chiave

Matches in Google AdWords work like traditional Russian matryoshka dolls. The largest doll contains the smaller ones. Similarly, the generic match contains all the other matches, which become more and more specific.

  • Rome restaurant (broad match): triggers ads for the following searches: restaurant rome, restaurants rome, osterie rome, mensa rome, etc. "Broad match keywords match relevant variations of your keywords, including synonyms, possible misspellings, stemmings, related searches, and other relevant variations."
  • +Rome +restaurant (modified match) activates ads for the following searches: restaurant in rome, restaurants in rome, cheap restaurant in rome, sushi restaurant in rome, etc. "both phrase and broad match modifier keywords [...] show ads on searches that include the meaning of your keyword".
  • "Rome restaurant" (phrase match) activates adverts for the following searches: rome restaurant, cheap rome restaurant etc. "both phrase and broad match modifier keywords [...] show ads on searches that include the meaning of your keyword".
  • [Rome restaurant] (exact match) only activate ads for the following search: restaurant rome "Ads will only be triggered by the exact keyword(s) or close variants thereof".


When doing an AdWords campaign in the search network, it is good to test which type of keyword performs best, thus has a good CTR and amount of impressions and clicks. If in fact our keyword is too specific, AdWords informs us that the traffic generated by that keyword is too low and basically won't let it into AdWords auctions. And in Google AdWords no auctions no parties.

Conversely, if our keyword is excessively generic, we risk the clicks that reach us being of little value, if any at all.

How best to test the various types of keyword matches? We have two possibilities. Which one to choose depends more on our modus operandi than on specific advantages. We can:

  • Place broad, modified, phrase and exact match keywords in the same ad group and see which perform best
  • Place keywords in different ad groups. In one group we place generic-matching keywords, in another we place phrase-matching keywords, and so on.


Negative keywords

Another type of keyword in AdWords is the negative keyword which will prevent your ad from being activated when a user makes a search containing that particular keyword.

Facciamo un altro esempio. Let's make another example.
We have the following broad match keyword:
Rome restaurant centre 
The user performs the search: 
Cheap restaurant Rome centre.
if we have entered the word economic in the unwanted keyword list, 
the search performed by the user 
will not show our ad.

In addition, we can also insert modified, phrase and exact matches in negative keywords lists to have more control over the terms we are going to exclude.

Negative keywords can be activated for the entire campaign or on the level of individual ad groups.


Combining the various types of keywords together

The beauty of Google AdWords is that it is not the individual elements that determine the fate of a given pay-per-click campaign, but rather the set of operations performed on one's adwords account. Of these operations, keyword optimisation is certainly one of the key ones. Let us remember to combine all the keyword types we have seen so far.

For example: 
+Cheap +restaurant +in +Rome +city +centre. 
Long tail modified match keyword  


In the example above, our ad will also be visible to anyone typing the keyword in any order and its similar variants. Similar variants "include misspellings, singular and plural forms, abbreviations, acronyms and words with the same root (e.g. 'floor' and 'flooring'). Synonyms (e.g. 'fast' and 'quick') and related searches (e.g. 'shoes' and 'footwear') are not considered similar variants'. In this case, our ad will also appear to those who type: Cheap restaurants in the centre of Rome.

Another example:
[Rome restaurant]. Short-tailed exact match keyword 

In this example, our ad will be visible to users typing in the keyword as it is. No synonyms and no related searches. The ad will only appear to those who type in Rome restaurant or, again as in the previous case, to those who type in its similar variants.

To complete the optimisation, after we have seen which keyword combinations perform best, we need to pause or eliminate the keywords that do not generate results!

By pausing keywords that do not work, we have the advantage of being able to see their history and remember all the keywords we have tested.

If we decide to remove them for reasons of cleanliness within the account, we first download a document summarising the performance of all keywords up to that point. This can be done conveniently via the 'download report' function in the AdWords interface.

How to find the right keywords

A helpful aid in finding the right keywords for a given campaign is given by Google itself. With the Keyword Planner tool you can

  • find new keywords and obtain search volume data
  • plan your budget and obtain forecasts

To be used before starting a campaign, these tools can help orient us and point us in a direction on which we can then work profitably.

We have come to the conclusion, now you too can log into Google AdWords and start singing: "Parole parole parole..." ;)




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