How To Expand Your Keywords List

Get the Flash Player to see this Google Ads tutorial about building your keyword list.

Though it may seem otherwise, keywords research is not just a stage in setting up your Google Ads account. It’s a work that never ends.

We discuss brainstorming for keywords and keyword research tools in our article “How To Build Your Basic Keywords List“, however there’s no way you can find all the good keywords in one brainstorming session.

There are some creative methods you can use to expand your primary keywords list. In a nutshell, it’s all about about understanding your potential clients – how much they know about your business, how they speak, how they may come to you.

Benefits vs Features

When people use search engines what they are actually doing is defining what they need or what they’re wishing for. You may find that your best performing keywords are probably expressing the benefits, and not the features of your product.

Identifying the actual benefits of your product is important. By incorporating the benefits of your product into the copy of your ads and your keywords you will cover a higher share of your target market, at low costs.

If your keywords have focused on features, for example “optical zoom camera” try adding the benefits of these product too, such as “take photos from far away”.


You would be surprised at how often people misspell search phrases/words (about 10% — that’s over 10 million per day!). The reason why someone misspells something isn’t important, they’re either in a hurry or simply don’t know the correct spelling.

Misspellings could represent a serious increase in potential customers. If you don’t want to lose them, add to your keyword list the most common ones.

Word Stemming and Variations

Google and its competitors try to make our search experience as relevant as possible. Among other advantages, when a user types a keyword in the search box, the search engine returns results that contain all the derivations of that word. If you search for “fish”, you’ll get results containing “fishing”, “fisherman” and so on.

Search engines also take into account plurals, derivatives and other variations of the word. Include all of those in your keyword list.

Synonyms & Acronyms

Synonyms and acronyms are also good traffic sources for your website. A synonym is another word to express the same notion. An acronym is formed by the initials of a multi-word term. For example, we say “pay per click” but we also say PPC and both terms are correct.

People search in a language of their own, this can depend on the region they live in, their age, culture, education level, mood, inspiration or who knows what else. Find the right words your customer might use to reach you. This is why it’s important to find jargon and slang. Start by using Google Analytics to check what novel keywords drove users directly to your website, add these to your keyword list.

You can also try doing some research – ask someone how would they search for your product or competitors products. You’ll be surprised at how many interesting terms you can discover simply by asking people their opinions for keywords.

Nouns, Brands, Product Names and Domains

Getting creative with keywords is essential. Think about your target market and imagine other searches they might perform, but that also relate in some way to your product.

If you were an extreme sports shop that sold skateboards, would you have ever thought to use “Tony Hawks” as a keyword? Or, if you sell karaoke machines did you ever consider using “Lady Gaga” or “Glee” as a keyword? This isn’t to say that these would be good performers, but it’s probable that these are being searched for by your target audience.

In a similar way you could think about including brands, product names and domains. There are product names that become the product itself like Xerox did, and if you produce copiers maybe it’s a good idea to include it as a keyword.

Many people use the Google search bar instead of using the address bar when they want to type a URL. Why does this happen? We can’t exactly tell. It could be they don’t remember the exact address, or they’re just speculating. In this case, a domain name is just a normal keyword, and you should consider including it as such.

Brainstorming for Related Topics

Related topics are always a way to reach your potential customers. A photographer is not only looking for cameras, but also for memory cards, tripods, training equipment, etc.

Word Spaces and Hyphenation

When it comes to these criteria, there may be more ways of typing the same keyphrase. You can say “coffee-machine” but also “coffee machine” and there are people that just type “coffeemachine”.

Understandably this process can be difficult, but don’t forget that the more keywords you cover the more people you reach. Just always make sure that the keywords do indeed relate to your product.

Remember, you can watch this and other Google Ads Tutorials on our Youtube channel too.

Further Reading: We recommend reading How To Improve Your Click Through Rate (CTR) next, or select one of our other tutorials below.


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