Build your campaign: Improve keywords

Learn how keywords work with ad groups and how to add keywords.

Keywords are the words or phrases that you associate with your ads so that potential customers who are searching the web can find your ads. Keywords could be shoes, beach resorts, or acting classes in New York. If you have a keyword that matches what someone searched for, there's a better chance they'll see your ad.

How keywords work with ad groups

To better understand keywords, you need to know about ad groups. Ad groups are the best way to organize your campaigns by the specific products or services that you offer.

When you create a campaign, think about the different kinds of ads that you want to create. For example, if you’re a toy retailer, you might want to write ads for kids’ electronics and different ads for your tricycle and wagon products. This is where ad groups come in. Keywords in the first ad group might include walkie-talkies, electronic pets, and kids’ music players. The second ad group might include keywords like pull-along wagons, tricycles, and kids’ bikes. If you don’t create separate ad groups within your campaign, people searching for "kids' bikes" might end up looking at your ad for electronic pets and vice versa. Use ad groups to help make your ad more relevant to users’ searches and to improve your ROI.

Use ad groups to make your ad relevant
See steps for creating a new ad groupexpando image
  1. From the main menu on the far left, click All campaigns.
  2. From the page menu, click Ad groups.
  3. Click Create ad group and enter Ad group settings, including ad group name, language, and location.
  4. Enter information to create your ad. You can always create more ads later.
  5. Select your bid type, keywords or placements, and enter your keywords here.

    You can also get keyword suggestions by clicking Research keywords and entering an initial keyword. Once you add keywords to an ad group, you can't move them to another ad group.

  6. Click Save.
  7. After clicking save, set your bids, targeting, and additional advanced settings.
  8. Click Save and add payment to enter your payment information or Save to complete your ad group creation.
See steps for adding keywordsexpando image
  1. From the main menu on the far left, click All campaigns.
  2. From the page menu, click Keywords.
  3. Click Add keywords.
  4. Do one or both of the following:
    1. Search for keywords to add by clicking Research and using one of the options in the dropdown list (Find keywords containing a word or phrase, Find keywords on a website, or Find keywords on the destination websites for your ads). From the results, choose the keyword you want to add and which match types you want to associate with that keyword (Broad, Phrase, Exact). Now click Add to get them added to your list.
    2. Enter keywords directly by clicking Enter keywords. Type your keywords in the text box, then click Add. (Before adding, make sure to select the match types you want to associate with each new keyword by selecting the appropriate options in the Type column.)
  5. Select the bid you want for each keyword and each match type.
  6. When you have added the keywords you want to use, click Apply.

Learn more

  • All keywords must adhere to Microsoft Advertising policies.
  • Each keyword can contain up to 100 characters, including spaces.
  • Some common variations of keywords, such as adding punctuation ("'," "!") to a keyword, count as duplicates in your list. Microsoft Advertising automatically removes all duplicates from the list, but these variations are still valid keywords for your ad.
  • If using the broad match modifier, ensure that the "+" immediately precedes the keyword it modifies, with no spaces. For example:
    Correct Incorrect
    Hawaii +HotelsHawaii + Hotels
    +Hawaii +Hotels+ Hawaii + Hotels
    +Hawaii Hotels+Hawaii+Hotels

Use negative keywords

While keywords get your ads in front of the right people, negative keywords keep them from showing for searches that won’t likely lead to sales. For example, if you’re a toy retailer running a sale on kids’ electronics, you won’t want to pay for search traffic from people looking for other children’s toys. In this case, your negative keywords can include dolls, board games, and puzzles. Make sure to spend as much time perfecting your negative keywords list as you do your keywords list.

See steps for adding negative keywordsexpando image
  1. From the main menu on the far left, click All campaigns.
  2. From the page menu, click Keywords.
  3. Click Negative Keywords.
  4. Click Campaign or Ad group.
  5. Click Add negative keywords.
  6. Select the appropriate campaign or ad group, then add your negative keywords as appropriate.
  • When you are adding negative keywords using the above directions, you do not use a hyphen ( - ). Rather you just enter your keyword or phrase either enclosed in quotes, or brackets. For example:

    To add an exact match negative keyword: red flower, you would enter [red flower].

    To add a phrase match negative keyword: red flower, you would enter "red flower".

    It is only when initially creating your campaign or ad group that you use the hyphen. Outside of that, when adding additional negative keywords to an existing campaign or ad group, as described in this page, you do not use a dash. Rather you use quotes or brackets.

  • When you add negative keywords to a campaign that has multiple ad groups with different language and market settings, Microsoft Advertising adds the negative keywords only to ad groups that have the same language setting as the account.

Use the Keyword Planner

If you want to do more than guess what people are searching for, use the Keyword Planner to get keyword ideas and suggestions for your campaigns. The tool helps you find the most relevant keywords for your target customers and suggests bids that will help get your ads seen.

See steps for using Keyword Plannerexpando image
  1. On the top menu, click Tools and then click Keyword Planner (or from the global menu at the top of the page, click Tools > Planning > Keyword planner).
  2. Click Search for new keywords.
  3. Enter up to 200 products or services that are associated with your business.
    You can enter a single keyword, or several separated by commas. You can also enter the URL of your website or a specific page on your website.
  4. Optional: Enter targeting information.
    This will impact keyword suggestions, historical statistics, and traffic estimates. For more information, click on the question mark (?) next to Targeting in Keyword Planner.
  5. Optional: Enter negative keywords, separated by commas.
    Words you enter here will not be included in keywords that are suggested to you.
  6. Optional: Set date range.
    You can set the start and end month to get the search volume trends and data for the specified time range.
  7. Optional: If you want to narrow the suggestions down to only keywords that contain certain words, enter those words in the Search options section.
  8. Click Get suggestions.

You'll get ad group and keyword suggestions with historical statistics, like monthly search volume trends and data, competition, suggested minimum bid, and ad impression share. You can also change the graph's data by selecting Search volume trends, Mobile trends, Breakdown by device, Breakdown by location, Compare to competitor domains, or Compare to market leader domains from the dropdown menu above the graph. You'll also see two tabs below: A tab for suggested keywords and a tab for suggested ad groups to organize those keywords. Be sure to look at both. After reviewing the recommended ad group and keyword suggestions, you can Add selected to estimates or Export the suggestions. Learn more.

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