By John Eberhard

Some of my past articles have dealt with how to find the right keywords for a web site. This article will cover what types of keywords you need for different uses and what to do with them.

Pay Per Click Keywords

The types of keywords that one needs tend to be different for pay per click advertising (PPC) or for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes.

With pay per click, one usually wants to use the most general keywords he can find that are applicable and relevant to what he is advertising. For example, if you are advertising a physical therapy practice in Glendale, CA, you would use keywords like “physical therapy,” “physical therapist,” or “physical therapy practice.”

With pay per click, you would not need to use keywords, for instance, that included the name of the town, i.e. “physical therapist Glendale,” and similar variations.

I recently reviewed a pay per click account that had been set up by someone else and it was set up with all these types of keywords that included the name of the city they were in, but didn’t even include the more general versions of those keywords. I’ve even seen other companies similar to mine offering to set up PPC accounts with all these keywords using the names of the city and surrounding cities, and charging you X amount for each keyword, as if that’s some kind of great thing. It’s not.

Here’s why. Keywords that include more words, such as “physical therapist Glendale” or any other similar keyword, tend to have lower numbers of impressions, meaning that fewer people are typing them in. This type of keyword is often referred to as a “long tail keyword,” and is desirable for SEO uses, as I’ll explain in a minute.

But to set up a pay per click account using ONLY long tail keywords (especially keywords using the names of cities or other geographical areas) is a mistake. Because Google AdWords (as well as most other pay per click systems) allows you to select the geographical location of where your ads will appear. So if you’re doing business in Glendale, CA, you can set up your campaign so it only appears to people in Glendale.

So if your physical therapist in Glendale sets up his account only using keywords with the word “Glendale” in them, he will be missing the much larger group of people who will just type in “physical therapist.” So he’ll be missing out on those potential visitors. In the example of this account that I reviewed, he wasn’t even getting enough impressions to use up his relatively small budget.

That’s not to say that you can’t use keywords with the name of the city in pay per click, but you don’t need to. Using what Google calls “broad match,” you’ll get those people anyway just using the phrase “physical therapist” because it will include every search that includes those words, which would include “physical therapist Glendale.”

Keywords in SEO

The type of keywords you use in SEO, however, is totally different. Here, you want to use more long tail keywords. The reason is that short, general keywords such as “physical therapist” or “golf” or “software” are extremely competitive, because when it comes to ranking well on search engines for a given keyword, it is not limited to just your local area. It is international. So every company in the world that sells those products or services is competing for those keywords. And some have been working at ranking for those keywords for a number of years. So your likelihood of being able to rank well for one of those general keywords is close to non-existent.

So the trick with SEO is to find keywords that are longer tail, have more words in them, and which have some decent amount of traffic but not as much competition.

So in our previous example, for SEO purposes the physical therapist would want to use keyword phrases such as “physical therapist Glendale,” because he is much more likely to be able to rank well for that keyword. You don’t have to use all keywords that list names of cities in them, but in general the long tail keyword is best. You want decent number of searches per day, but not tons of competition.


It’s important to understand the processes for pay per click and search engine optimization, and understand which types of keywords work best for each.