EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 172 - August 06, 2006 - ISSN 1528-6703     4 of 8

Google AdWords and Other Pay Per Click Programs, Part 3

By Peter Kent and Jill Finlayson

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Part 1 of this 3-part series can be read online at

Part 2 of this 3-part series can be read online at

Understanding Keywords
A keyword or keyword phrase is a word or series of words typed into a search engine by someone seeking something. Keywords are used to trigger the display of your PPC ads. You'll "bid" on keywords-for instance, you might bid, say, 55 cents for the term camping equipment. When someone types camping equipment into their browser, the PPC system looks at all the bids for that keyword phrase, and places the ads on the results page accordingly-most systems place the highest bid at the top of the list, as in Figure 22-2, although Google uses other characteristics. More importantly, ads that people click more frequently get a rank "boost" in the system.

As you can see, keywords are essential. In fact, you have to pick the right keywords, because

  • The right keywords bring the right people to your site; you don't want to pay for people who won't buy!
  • Some keywords are more expensive than others. Some keywords might be several dollars, while similar ones might be ten cents.

Here's an example, taken from Yahoo! Search Marketing Solutions (, for top bids at the time of writing:

vioxx: $11
vioxx attorney: $38.06
vioxx attorney denver: 10 cents

Keywords are critical! Before you can begin a PPC campaign, you must understand the keywords.

Broad vs. Narrow Terms
You can bid on broad terms, or you can bid on narrow terms (or both, of course). Each has advantages and disadvantages:

  • Broad terms (for example, vioxx) tend to be expensive.
  • Broad terms often attract people who are not looking for what you're selling. Use the term golf, and you'll get people who want golf vacations, golf lessons, golf equipment, and so on. So you'll end up buying clicks for people who aren't even interested in your stuff.
  • Narrow terms are often cheaper than broad terms. Golf is currently $1.51, while golf equipment is 42 cents, and golf equipment denver is 10 cents on Yahoo! (this isn't always the case, as shown by the vioxx attorneys example earlier).
  • Narrow terms are more likely to attract the right people, saving you from paying for worthless clicks.

Doing a Keyword Analysis
If keywords are important, how do you know which keywords to use?

  1. Guess.
  2. Take your guesses and run them through a keyword-analysis tool.

Do not stop at Step 1! If you guess, you'll guess wrong!

TIP: Wordtracker is almost certainly the best keyword-analysis tool around ( It's the system used by most search-engine professionals because you can do more with it, more quickly. We don't have room to describe this tool, but it's worth spending a few hours and doing a really good analysis with this tool.

We'll look at a free way for carrying out a keyword analysis, though ideally you should use Wordtracker, which you can "rent" for around $8 a day (one day's usually plenty). The following's a simple procedure that uses your brain power and Yahoo!'s Keyword Selector Tool.

  1. Quickly write down all the obvious keywords, the ones you've already thought about. If you're selling golf equipment, an obvious choice might be golf equipment . . . and golf clubs, golf balls, golf cart, and so on.
  2. Now think from your customers' point of view. Put yourself in their shoes... can you think of terms they might use?
  3. Ask employees, partners, family...what other terms can you come up with?
  4. Go back over your list, and add plural versions of singular terms and singular versions of plural terms.
  5. Look for words that are likely to be frequently misspelled, and add them, too. (Some words are misspelled as much as one third of the time they're used, so these represent a significant opportunity for reaching people.)
  6. Go to the Yahoo! Search Marketing Solutions web site 0( and find the Keyword Selector Tool. (Unfortunately, Yahoo! keeps moving things around; sometimes it's easy to find, other times it's hidden away. Dig around and you should eventually find it; look for the Advertiser Center or something similar.)
  7. Type a keyword into the text box and press ENTER.

TIP: Google also provides a free keyword-analysis tool, though it's also hidden away a little. Go to and begin setting up a Google AdWords campaign - quickly enter a little fake data so you can move through the steps and you'll find a Keyword Tool link in the Choose Keywords step.

  1. The tool returns a list of similar keywords and the number of times the keyword has been used in a prior month on the Yahoo! PPC network (see Figure 22-3).

  1. Look down the list for terms to add to your own list. Enter another term, including terms you find in this list, into the text box at the top and try again.

This tool will give you ideas for keywords, and some notion of how often searchers use a particular term. It won't tell you how much the term will cost, though.

Checking Bid Prices
Here's how to quickly view bid costs for a few keywords.

  1. At Yahoo!, in the Advertiser Center, click the View Bids Tool link to open the View Bids window (see Figure 22-4; note that this tool is also hidden away now and then).

  1. Type the term you want to check into the first text box, copy the security code into the second text box, and press ENTER.
  2. Yahoo! returns the first 40 PPC ads, along with the bid price. (See Figure 22-5.)

What exactly is a bid price? It's the maximum amount that an advertiser is willing to pay for a click; it's not always what the advertiser actually pays. The actual cost is only one penny above the next bid. For instance, in Figure 22-5 advertiser #2 may pay 91 cents, while #1 may pay 92 cents . . . but both are willing to pay much more, if necessary, to hold their high positions.

About the author:

Peter Kent and Jill Finlayson are co-authors of "How to Make Money Online with eBay, Yahoo! & Google." This article is reprinted from Chapter 22, "Google AdWords and Other Pay Per Click Programs," with permission from the publisher. (c) Copyright 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. You can find the book on Amazon (

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