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Keywords are single words or phrases that are used to target user search queries on search engines like Bing. When a customer’s search query matches your keyword, this triggers your ads to display. Choosing keywords is one of the most important aspects of creating and maintaining a successful pay-per-click (PPC) advertising campaign. But where to start? How do you identify the many possible keywords that describe your business? How much should you bid on those keywords to be competitive with other advertisers?

After reading this Study guide, you will understand:

  • The importance of brainstorming, how to do keyword research and how to choose keywords following best practices.
  • How to incorporate the concept of match types and negative keywords into your PPC ads.
  • How to use Microsoft Advertising Keyword Planner to research and find keywords.

Building a quality keyword list

The most important tool at your disposal for building a quality keyword list is brainstorming. Who knows your business better than you? Start with what you know:

  • Your brand.
  • Your products.
  • Your services.
  • Review your competitors’ websites.
From here, shift your brainstorming to questions like these:
  • Why do consumers need your products and services?
  • Why would a consumer choose you over your competitors?
  • What types of questions might a consumer ask to find your products and services?

The end result of this brainstorming exercise should be a seed keyword list. These seed keywords will help you plug into actual tools to take your keyword research to the next level.

Microsoft Advertising Keyword Planner

Keyword Planner is a keyword research tool that provides valuable insights to help you plan and optimize your campaigns. Important features include:

  • Search capabilities by landing page URL. More keyword resources means more opportunities for optimization.
  • Compare your ad impression share to your competitors and the market leader domains.
  • Customize your individual ad group and keyword bids or increase them by scale to get traffic estimates.
  • Look at keyword search volume for a specified time going back up to 24 months.

This chart illustrates how you might compare your ad impression share to your competitor:

Keyword Planner

This chart illustrates how you can increase the bids by scale and customize your individual ad group and keyword bids:

Keyword Planner

To get started, click Tools on the top menu. Click Keyword Planner. Click Search for new keywords using a phrase, website, or category.
The seed keyword list that resulted from your brainstorming will become the starting point for your research with Keyword Planner. To start, enter one or more of the following in the boxes that appear:

  • Up to 200 words or phrases that describe what you're advertising
  • The URL of your website or a page on your website
  • A category relevant to your product or service

Keyword Planner

Learn more about how to use the Keyword Planner tool.

Microsoft Advertising Intelligence

Another powerful tool for working with keywords is Microsoft Advertising Intelligence – an extension for Excel. This tool seamlessly operates in Microsoft Office Excel 2016, 2013, 2010 and 2007 and provides many features and templates for researching or expanding your keyword lists.

Screenshot of Microsoft Advertising Intelligence

Learn more about Microsoft Advertising Intelligence.

Negative keywords and match types

As you build your keyword list, you will find keyword variations that are a perfect match – and some that are close, but not perfect. How do you deal with those keywords that are only “close” to perfect? Match types. You control how Microsoft Advertising matches your keyword to user search queries.

  • Exact Match: end user must type your keyword into the search box – word for word.
  • Phrase Match: end user must type your keyword into the search box, but additional words may be included before or after.
  • Broad Match: end user’s search query must be close to your keyword and may contain synonyms, slang or similar words.

If you find there are keywords that are not relevant to your business at all, you have the option to exclude those words. Negative keywords allow you to define exceptions to when your ad will be triggered. For instance, if your ad sells shoes and you’ve specified “tennis shoes” as a keyword, you can prevent your ad from being displayed in response to a search on “tennis courts” by adding “courts” as a negative keyword.

Learn more about match types and negative keywords.

Disapproved keywords

On occasion, you may upload a new keyword just to find that it has been rejected or disapproved. Keywords that do not meet Microsoft Advertising editorial policies are given a disapproved status. You will be alerted to any issues with your keywords in the Delivery column of your keywords list, as well as by an email notification, at which time you can either fix the issue or request an exception.

Learn more about Microsoft Advertising policies.


The words and phrases you include in your keywords list help determine whether or not a customer will see your ad. Be sure to focus on keyword relevancy to maximize the effectiveness of your strategy. When choosing keywords, remember these points:

  • Your knowledge of your business is the best place to start for keyword brainstorming and research.
  • Use Microsoft Advertising Keyword Planner and Microsoft Advertising Intelligence tools to research traffic estimates, search volume history, and search for new keywords by landing page URL.
  • Take advantage of match types to control how your keywords are matched to user search queries.

Thanks for reading this Study guide on how to do keyword research and finding keywords that are relevant to your products and services. Continue studying or take the Microsoft Advertising Certified Professional exam to become certified.

Please note all features in this Study guide may not be available in your market.