B2B Keyword Research

Part of B2B keyword research is creating an effective B2B Keyword Strategy along with a high-intent B2B keyword list.

TL;DR - Key takeaways:

  1. Develop a B2B keyword strategy that targets different stages of the buyer's journey.
  2. Do a competitive analysis to get started developing your B2B keyword list
  3. Remember that while you are looking for B2B keywords you are also looking for negative keywords to add to your list.
  4. Check competitor's Google Ads history to find top-performing and underperforming keywords.
  5. Keep a spreadsheet of your competitor's search queries. ads,  and landing pages for reference
  6. Check Google's autocomplete to add to your B2B keyword list
  7. Use Google's People Also Searched For to find additional keywords
  8. Use Google's keyword planner to fine-tune your B2B keyword list
  9. Launch your campaign: Group your B2B keyword list by themes
  10. Use the search term report to add negative b2b keywords and. improve your results
B2B keyword research
B2B keyword research

Google Ads B2B Keyword Strategy

B2B keywords research can be difficult. CPCs are high and the competition is fierce. You'll need to determine, based on your product or services where in the marketing funnel / buyer's journey you want to engage your prospects.

One method is to move up the marketing funnel to engage with your prospects. This will give you multiple touch points at key spots in the buyers journey to connect with your prospects, build trust and show off your expertise. The CPCs are a lot lower as well.

  • Keywords that target the awareness stage can include phrases such as "what is...", and "how to...".
  • Targeting prospects in the consideration stage can use phrases such as "(keyword phrase) companies", "(keyword phrase) solutions", "and (keyword phrase) services".
  • Prospects in the conversion stage tend to use search terms such as reviews, pricing, and free trial.

Define your Google leads target based on the length of your sales cycle, pricing and budget. The more expensive and complex your offering, the longer the sales cycle.

Google ads for B2B lead generation - target the right part of the marketing funnel

Create your B2B Keyword List: Competitive Analysis

B2B Keywords research: Competitive Analysis

I like to do a competitive analysis first with a tool called SpyFu. It does a great job of finding out what keywords your competitors are bidding on and what ads they are running.

  • What keywords are competitors targeting
  • What language / buzz words / industry specific terms does your target audience use?

Here is an overview of the keyword “cyber security” from SpyFu. Right away you can see that the top advertisers are IBM and Dell with 2 different educational offerings. If you type a keyword into a tool like this and you don’t see any of your competitors running ads, that’s a sign you shouldn’t either.

Google PPC research tool SpyFu can help you find your competitors best keywords.

B2B Keyword Research: Dig Deeper

Here is the report for the keyword “cyber security companies"

From these results you can see that there are cyber security companies that are advertising for this term. One thing that stands out is the ad coverage on the right side of the image. These companies are not running this term consistently. Given that, we might not want to make this one of our primary keywords. However, we can now dive into a competitor, Miles Technologies, and see what keywords they are advertising consistently for.

Looking into Miles Security and re-sorting the results on coverage, we can see that the most consistent term is “Network security companies”. We can even see the ad they run for this keyword! Now that's some B2B keyword research!

dig deep into SpyFu until you find what keywords your competitors are bidding on
B2B Keyword research - find your competitors best ads with SpyFu

B2B Keyword List: Use Google for Research

B2B Keyword Research for Lead Generation: More Options

At this point in our B2B keyword research, it’s a good idea to head over to Google and run some queries to:

  • Discover additional keywords
  • Review their messaging and landing pages for ideas to create your own landing pages.
  • Put together a competitive analysis in a spreadsheet that includes the keyword search term, the ads, and the landing pages of your top competitors.

This would be a good time to add negative keywords to your list. Without a decent negative keyword list your Google leads campaign is going to struggle. Here are the negative keywords from our sample search:

Bangalor, india, kenya, stock, near me, (if you are targeting different states, etc), Stock, etc

Google PPC - do a sample search in Google

Still another source of B2B keyword research: Google PASF

The Google Search feature known as "People Also Search For" (PASF) is designed to assist users in finding the information they seek. The B2B keyword research feature functions by displaying a list of related search terms that other users frequently use when searching for the same topic. This occurs after a user has conducted a search using a specific keyword, and if they click on a search result but return to the search page quickly, Google assumes that the result was not satisfactory in meeting the user's needs. In this scenario, the PASF snippet appears below the original search result, providing the user with alternative keywords that may be more useful in their search.

Google Ads B2B Keyword Research

B2B Keyword Strategy: Track the Competition

ProTip: While running potential keywords through Google Ads, create a spreadsheet with your competitors ads, landing pages and the search term you used to bring up their ad. Having a spreadsheet of historical ads and landing pages helps you keep track of your competition.

B2B Keyword strategy - - create a spreadsheet with your competitors ads, landingpages and search terms

B2B Keyword Research: The Keyword Tool

After doing this competitive analysis, it’s time to head over to the Google Keyword tool to look up info on your potential keywords, discover new keywords and run forecasts.

The Keyword tool will give you search volume trends, average search volumes and an estimated bid to get to the first page of search results. This is also a great source of negative keywords.

Here are the results of the search term “network security companies” in Google’s Discover New Keywords tool:

B2B keyword list - the keyword planner give you the data you need

B2B Keyword Strategy: Time to Execute

Launching and Optimizing your Campaign

It's time to launch your campaign and execute your B2B keyword strategy. We've talked elsewhere about setting up your ad groups around themes, and grouping keywords together around the search terms you're targeting. For more info on that, visit our guide to B2B Google Ads Setup.

When you launch your campaign you'll start to get data on how your B2B keyword list, ads, and landing pages are performing. Be sure to link your Google Ads and Google Analytics accounts. You'll want. to add the bounce rate, pages per session, and time on page information to your column set.

Keywords that have high bounce rates and a short time on your landing page need to be looked at. This doesn't mean they need to be paused but you'll need to click on the box next to the keyword and then click on the search term report. Check the list of search terms you keyword appeared in and add the irrelevant terms to your negative keyword list. You'll also want to keep an eye out for new keyword terms that are performing well.

You'll need to check your search terms for either the specific keyword or for the entire ad group at least 2-3 times the first week your campaign launches. Adding negative keywords to your list is the fastest path to optimizing your B2B Google Ads campaign.

When adding the negative keywords don't just add the exact match. This is Google's default. Let's say you run the search term report forthe keyword "cyber security". One of the search terms you want to get rid of is [cyber security salaries]. If you just add this exact keyword match to your negative keyword list then you will only be blocking that exact search term. However, you probably don't want to. appear in. any search terms around the keyword "salary".  So add the keywords, salary, and salaries as broad match negative keywords and you will also block "IT salaries" and more.

B2B keyword strategy - use the search term report to find negative keywords

This keyword report with Google Analytics info: bounce rates, pages per session and session duration all show strong results

B2B keyword list

Add keywords that don't match up to your B2B keyword strategy

Creating Your Offer: Ads and Landing Pages

You'll want to match your keywords to your ads to your landing pages. This sends the best set of signals back to Google which will improve your Quality Score and Ad Rank.

Responsive search ads usually need 8-10 headlines and 4 or so descriptions to get a good rating from Google. This is easier to accomplish with a STAG (Single Theme Ad Group) keyword strategy as the different keywords you are targeting will all need at least 2-3 headlines. Google should choose the headline that most closely matches the keywords although it will test all variations given time and budget.

For SKAG (Single Keyword Ad Group) keyword strategy this can be more difficult. Google will encourage you to come up with 8-10 headlines for a single keyword. You should experiment with many different approaches. However, if you already have a good idea of what you want to say, don't worry about running fewer headlines and ending up with an ad rated poor.

You'll want your landing page copy to match the ads as closely as possible. This will improve conversions and give you a higher ad rank.

Google responsive search ads.

For a complete overview of B2B Google Ads, Click Here

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