Darren Stewart

B2B PPC: How to Target the right keywords

The success of your B2B PPC strategy comes down to targeting the right keywords with your ads. It sounds simple but it can be tricky.

One of the most common mistakes made when running Google Ads for a B2B company is the keywords you target. Targeting the right keywords sounds simple, and, it can be depending on what you sell. For example if you sell loans to other businesses then your target keywords are pretty obvious “business loans” as an example. 

But if you work for a company that has a product for a specific audience or market (An ideal customer profile or ICP), then you will need to target keywords that are somehow more tightly matched to your companies proposition otherwise you will end up spending money on targeting buyers that are not a good fit for your company.

Google Keyword Match Types

The first thing to understand is how keyword targeting works in the Google Ads platform. It’s important to keep up to date on this because how this works has changed over the years and it may not work as you would expect.

Before I explain from my perspective here is the link to Google’s explanation of the match types which will give you a really good understanding.

The main takeaway from this explanation is that Exact Match does not mean what it says, it will actually target keywords that have a similar meaning or intent (in the past this wasn’t the case). 

Google usually recommends Broad Match type, don’t do it. Most of the time, especially if you are using an automated bidding strategy, Google will recommend using Broad Match. This is because it allows the algorithm more scope to optimise and target the terms that generate the most conversions.

Although this is sensible form a data gathering perspective it can mean if your company sells something to a specific audience you can end up bidding on terms that are completely irrelevant to you.

One great example of this is when I worked with Forecast. A company that provided project management and resource planning software. When bidding on Phrase Match “resource management software” Google also started to show ads on Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) which is completely different from professional service resource management.

This is something that in theory the algorithms will figure out when you don’t get many conversions for those ads, but 

Utilizing Negative Keyword Lists heavily can mitigate some of this work but you may end up chasing your tail quite a lot as you need to be monitoring your account daily and continually adding in negative keywords, more importantly you will end up spending precious budget on terms you don’t want to target.

We recommend Phrase & Exact match

For B2B SaaS companies this is particularly useful as many software products have a specific audience, and because of this I always recommend using Exact Match and Phrase Match for keyword targeting - bear in mind, Exact Match and Phrase Match do still target keywords and queries that are similar to your keywords. 

Not enough volume? Test Broad Match

You always have to consider the total addressable market (TAM) and the average volume of searches for your target keywords to understand how much volume you can expect from your Google Ads.

If, however, you believe there is no real volume when you're targeting exact or phrase match terms then yes, you should test our broad match.

PPC Text Ads for Solution Exploration

The primary use of Google Text Ads in B2B digital marketing should be to target buyers who are at the ‘solution exploration’ stage of the buying process or funnel. This means they are actively seeking solutions and are in the consideration phase, often called the middle of the buyer funnel.

This means that what someone types into a search engine will typically have certain words that indicate ‘intent’. A prime example of this are the words “software”, “company” or “solution”. These types of words indicate some is in the solution exploration stage.

As a good example of this, think of someone typing in “Accountancy” vs “accounting software”. If you bid on the first term you will be wasting a lot of time and money because that person is not in a buying mindset.

This is similar with questions, such as “how to do end of year accounting” - this sort of question means someone is in the ‘problem identification’ stage of the process and they are looking for advice and education, this sort of search query should be addressed with useful content in the form of video or blog content - too many marketers bid on these terms without understanding the nature of intent.

The most important thing to remember when executing a revenue focused B2B PPC Strategy is not to be persuaded by Google that you need to constantly broaden your keywords to gain better results, stay focused on what your companies proposition 

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