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 that 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 that 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 trainers" 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 that 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.

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. However, you should avoid using duplicate keywords in your account because Google shows only one ad per advertiser on a particular keyword.


If you're a large shoe shop, 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 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 own a shoe shop, 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 trainers". 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".

Pick the right number of keywords

We recommend 5 – 20 keywords per ad group. Although, you can have more than 20 keywords in an ad group if you want. Remember, each ad group should contain keywords that directly relate to that group's theme.

Your keywords will automatically match variations such as possible misspellings or plural versions. So you don't need to add those.


If your ad group contained the broad match type keyword "tennis shoes", then your ad would be eligible to appear when someone searched for that keyword or any variation of the keyword such as "buy tennis shoes", "running shoes" or "tennis trainers".

Choose keywords that relate to the websites or apps that your customers see

On the Display Network, your keywords allow your ads to show on relevant websites or in apps. Choose keywords that are related to each other and that are related to the content that your customers browse.

For apps, Google Ads may extend the scope of your keywords in order to match your ads to more relevant search terms. Learn more about ads in apps.

Since your ads are matched to relevant websites using your keywords, all keywords used for Display Network campaigns are considered broad match. You can fine-tune your keywords by excluding certain keywords from ad groups that target the Display Network.

Learn more about choosing keywords for Display Network campaigns.


Imagine that you create a keyword list that includes terms related to boots. Websites about boots would be targeted by the keywords on your list. You could also exclude the terms "ski" and "snowboard" to prevent your ads from appearing on sites about winter sports.

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