Basic tips for building a keyword list

Selecting the right keyword list for your campaign can help you show your ads to the right customers. Your keywords should match the terms your potential customers would use to find your products or services. Learn more about how to add, edit, and remove keywords.

This article explains some basic ways you can start building a good keyword list.

Think like a customer when you create your list

Write down the main categories of your business, and then write down the terms or phrases that might fall under each of those categories. Include terms or phrases your customers would use to describe your products or services.


If you sell men's athletic footwear, you might start off with some basic categories that customers would use, like "men's sports shoes." You can also add "men's sneakers," and "men's tennis shoes," if you find out these are commonly used terms for your products. Expand your list further by including your brand and product names.

Select specific keywords to target specific customers

Select more specific keywords that directly relate to your ad's theme if you want to target customers who may be interested in a particular product. Using more specific keywords would mean that your ad only appears for terms that apply to your business. But keep in mind that if the keywords are too specific, you might not be able to reach as many people as you'd like.


If you sell men's athletic footwear, you might choose specific keywords like "men's basketball shoes," a type of shoe you offer. That way, for example, your ad would be eligible to appear when someone searches for these types of shoes or visits a website about basketball.

Select general keywords to reach more people

Select more general keywords if you'd prefer to reach as many people as possible. Keep in mind that you might find it difficult to reach potential customers when adding very general keywords because your ad could appear for searches that aren't always related to your business. Also, more general keywords can be more competitive and may require higher bid amounts. Layer broad targeting with Smart Bidding, so machine learning technology can prioritize the best performing searches regardless of their match type. Learn more About Smart Bidding.

Test general keywords, and then decide which ones give you better results. No matter how general your keywords are, they should always be relevant to your ads and website.


If you're a large shoe store, you might choose a general keyword like "shoes." That way, for example, your ad would be eligible to appear when someone searches for a wide variety of shoes or visits websites about fashion.

Group similar keywords into ad groups

To show more relevant ads to potential customers, group your keywords and ads into ad groups based on your products, services, or other categories. If multiple keywords match a given search term, Google chooses the keyword to serve based on the ranking outlined in this article about similar keywords in the same ad group. Having the same keyword in different match types shouldn’t increase your costs or hurt performance in any way.

If instead you add all your keywords and ads to one ad group, a customer searching for "women's evening shoes" may see your ad about "men's tennis shoes." Learn more about creating a new ad group.


If you own a shoe store, you might create 2 ad groups: 1 for running shoes and 1 for evening shoes. Your ad group for running shoes could include ads with keywords like "running shoes" and "running sneakers." Your ad group for evening shoes could include keywords like "evening shoes" and "dress shoes."

That way, potential customers could see your ad about evening shoes when they search for "evening shoes"—not when they search for "running shoes."

Note: You don’t have to add every variant of every keyword, as all match types can capture traffic from closely related variations of your keywords.

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