Enter your keywords (15 minutes)

There are two methods to create your keyword list

  1. You can create your keyword list using the CampaignBuilder. Detailed below.
    This is a great way for relatively new users to quickly build a very good keyword list to get their campaign going. You can focus specifically on the search terms your customer would use to find you.
  2. You can copy and paste a keyword list using the bulk loader function.
    This is for more experienced campaign builders who build/maintain their own keyword lists in spreadsheets. Hundreds or even thousands of keywords (including negatives) can be transferred in seconds.

What’s a keyword list?

A keyword is a set of words you give Google Ads to tell how you want to match with a potential customer’s search terms. If you sell blue tennis shoes, you definitely want to show your ad to the Google searchers who said: buy blue tennis shoes. So you would want to have a keyword of buy blue tennis shoes.

You can use less specific keywords like tennis shoes or blue shoes, but the searches those keywords match with may not be interested in blue tennis shoes. Once you have discovered the search terms your real buyers tend to use, you can try more generalized keywords. (See footnote)

Our suggested method for creating a keyword list

We are suggesting you go about building your keyword list in quite a bit different fashion than you’ve probably read elsewhere. We recommend starting with the precise combinations of terms (geography, product/services, and features) that cause Google to display the SERP (results page) that you want to appear on. Please remember that you can build your keyword list over time and creating keywords that don’t “fire” (yield any impressions) are also very informative. Make adjustments and see what happens. CampaignBuilder makes this very easy.

If manual transmission repair causes Google to display ads and listings that look relevant to what you do, then you should start with a keyword: +manual +transmission +repair. Because you are using very specific combinations of multiple terms (what is commonly referred to as long tail keywords) you may get a status of invalid from Google due to low search volume. If you do, please chat with us; we are experts at broadening keywords without getting unwanted clicks.

Test combinations of terms using Google

There are specific combinations of search terms (sets of two to five words) that your real customers use. You need to find some or all of them and turn them into your keywords.

Use Google to try out dozens of combinations of the customer need (“burn care”, for example) together with different features (words like: fast, certified, discount) and even geography (words like: near me, chicago, 60606).

  • Be sure to try out those searches on mobile as well as desktop. Determine which sets of terms seem to be the place where you should be advertising.
  • If you are having any trouble with this, ask us on chat. We are very good at generating keyword ideas and themes. You will be (as well) as soon as you’ve worked through a couple of examples.
  • Notice how when you use more generalized terms (“car repair” versus “manual transmission repair”, for example) you can see how broadly those terms are interpreted. Try to gauge how specific your terms need to be to match how your customer will look for you.
  • To get started running your campaign, all you need is about five to ten such sets of search terms (each of which between two and five words) and the CampaignBuilder will help you turn those into your keyword list.

The right match type: broad match modifier (bmm)

Keywords consist of terms (words) and a match type. Match type can be broad (all the words are there), phrase (all the words are there, in order), or exact (those are the only words and they’re in order). The trouble with match types of exact and phrase is that Google expands their meaning so you can’t be sure what you’re matching on.

Broad match modifier (bmm) keywords are just like any other broad match keywords except they have a “+” in front of each term. The plus signs tell Google that you want to limit the variations. Without the plus signs, tennis would match with athletic (and a lot of other terms you aren’t asking for). We recommend starting with bmm keywords.

Enter your keywords using the keyword input tab

  1. Click on the keyword input tab.

The Keyword Input tab
  1. From there you can view the two lists: keywords and negative keywords. In order to make changes to either list, you must click the Edit button.

Empty keyword list
  1. Edit the keyword list. From there, you will have a list from which you can delete items and an entry field for adding new keywords. Simply type in your keywords (sets of two to five words that Google searchers would use to find your business) and hit enter after each one.

Enter your terms to form your keyword
  1. When you click add (or simply hit the enter key) your terms will be converted to a bmm keyword and added to the list.

Click add to create your bmm keyword
  1. Continue to add terms in this manner until you’re done. Five to ten keywords are enough to start. You can always come back and add them at any time.

Continue entering keywords this way
  1. Click save when you are done. You will be returned to the keyword tab and your project is updated.

Click save to update your keyword list
  1. Enter your negative keywords using a similar method. Negative keywords are the terms that you identify that specifically will cause your ad NOT to show. A very good example of a common negative keyword is free. For most campaigns, free in a user’s search terms does not indicate someone who wants to pay for something. Negative keywords do not need the plus signs – they are interpreted narrowly by default in Google Ads.

That’s all there is to entering your keywords. Now on to creating your ads and extensions.



  • Negative keywords are interpreted by Google in the most narrow definition. Quite the opposite of how keywords are interpreted by Google.
  • After you are successful at getting customers and you know what ads work well, you can experiment with all kinds of keyword combinations. But that’s not a good way to start out. Start out with specific combinations of words that match with your customer need.
  • The ads tab and the keyword tabs contain buttons that say “clear all”. Please be careful – those buttons work and if you haven’t got those ads and keywords someplace else, you’ll be typing them in again.
  • When you want to use other keyword types, the bulk loader feature handles that.


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