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Choose keywords for Display Network campaigns

Display Network keywords help you connect your campaigns to people most likely to be interested in your business.

For example, if your most likely customers like to hike, you might add keywords around hiking or enjoying the outdoors. Then, AdWords finds relevant websites that include your keywords as well as relevant audiences who are interested in those keywords. It’s a good idea to pick keywords that are relevant to an entire ad group, and not just a single ad.

This article explains how keywords work on the Display Network.

How it works

Keywords are one of the targeting options on the Display Network. Sometimes your ads may show on placements that seem unrelated to your Display keywords. Depending on your keyword setting, your ads may show to audiences based on their recent browsing history or other factors, rather than the content of the page they’re currently viewing. Find out more

Here are some things that you should do when choosing keywords for your Display Network campaigns:

  • Create ad groups for your products or services so we can show ads related to them.
  • Choose keywords that you imagine could appear on a website where your most likely customers might browse.
  • Get additional ad group and keyword ideas.

Create ad groups

Before you choose keywords for your Display Network campaigns, make sure that the ad groups for each of your campaigns are organised by the products or services that you offer. It's best to start with keywords that describe the products or services that you're advertising. Then, you can create ads related to those keywords.


Let's say that you're building a campaign for your bakery. When you set up your campaign, you should separate your ad groups into the different types of products that you sell.

Here are examples of poorly structured and effectively structured ad groups to get a better idea of how to organise your ad groups:

Poorly structured ad group    Effectively structured ad group

Ad group: Bakery


chocolate chip cookies
oatmeal cookies
jammy dodger
chewy brownies
brownies with nuts
dark chocolate brownies
red velvet cupcakes
vanilla cupcakes
chocolate cupcakes


Ad group: Cookies

chocolate chip cookies
oatmeal cookies
jammy dodger

Ad group: Brownies

chewy brownies
brownies with nuts
dark chocolate brownies

Ad group: Cupcakes

red velvet cupcakes
vanilla cupcakes
chocolate cupcakes


Add more keywords that are similar to those that are performing well for you.

Choose keywords

Your ad group's keyword list helps us show your ads on relevant websites or to relevant audiences (depending on your keyword setting). Follow these guidelines to create a high-quality keyword list:

  • Choose keywords related to your product or service.
  • Create a set of 5 to 20 keywords that relate closely to one another and to the ads in that ad group. Keywords of two or three words (phrases) tend to work most effectively.
  • Select keywords that are related to each other. For example, if you sell flowers, you might want to add "roses" and "chocolates" to your keyword list. That way, your keywords can show your ads to customers who could be interested in buying roses or flower arrangements for an event.
  • Select keywords related to the websites that your customers see.
  • If you have a strong and well-recognised brand, include branded keywords.


Ad group: brownies

Keywords: chocolate brownies, dark chocolate brownies, chewy brownies, dessert recipes, brownie recipes

Select a keyword setting

After you’ve created your keyword list, choose a “Keyword setting”. This setting applies to all keywords in your ad group. You have two options:

  • Audience: Choose this setting to reach people who are researching products or services like yours. This setting allows your ads to reach people who are likely to be interested in your keywords, even when they may be browsing content about other topics. In addition, your ads will show on content (such as web pages, apps and videos) that’s contextually relevant to your keywords. 
    • This is the default setting. This option is recommended for most advertisers. It allows you to reach a wider audience that’s likely to be interested in your products or services.
  • Content: Choose this setting to only show your ads on content (such as web pages, apps and videos) that’s contextually relevant to your keywords. Content keywords were previously known as Display Select Keywords (DSKs).
    • This option may significantly narrow the reach of your ads. The “Content” setting only provides about 30% of the reach of the “Audience” setting, on average.



Select the AdWords experience that you're using. Learn more

Get ad group and keyword ideas

You can use Display Planner to get themed ad group and keyword ideas that you might not think of when you build your campaigns. Here's how to use Display Planner:

  1. Click the Tools tab and select Display Planner.
  2. Enter your customers’ interests or types of landing pages that they typically visit.
  3. Click Get ad group ideas.
  4. To see keyword ideas, click the Individual targeting ideas tab and then the Keywords subtab.

Monitor and improve your keyword performance

To see results metrics for your Display Network keywords, go to the Display Network tab and click Display keywords. You’ll find a table including impressions, clicks and other results showing how well your keywords are meeting your advertising goals. Based on these results, you can make decisions about revising your keyword list.

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