Most businesses new to paid search or Google AdWords don’t realize that there are significant differences in the various ways Google allows you to match your keywords. How you utilize the various matching options available to you can make or break the ROI you’ll see from paid search.
First lets take a look at the matching options available:
By far the most commonly used match type, and not surprisingly the one that is most riddled with money wasting challenges. Google defines broad match as follows:
With broad match, the Google AdWords system automatically runs your ads on relevant variations of your keywords, even if these terms aren’t in your keyword lists. Keyword variations can include synonyms, singular/plural forms, relevant variants of your keywords, and phrases containing your keywords.
The problem is, you’re relying on Google to determine what a good keyword for your business is – the results are often mixed. Google can do a fantastic job – Broad Matching is a great way to discover profitable keywords you might otherwise have never known people were using to find your business. On the flip side, it’s also just as likely to deliver you a lot of unqualified traffic with keywords that are completely unrelated to what you offer. Here is a great example from a client of ours…
The term the account was targeting was “T1 Internet Connection”, which in Google’s view, meant that our clients ads were also relevant for the following keywords:
- “filing a t1 adjustment canada”
- “cannon rebel camera t3i”
- “fiber-optic lighting”
- “volkswagon t1 for sale”
- “corporate web site”
and many other highly irrelevant terms that were generating clicks and wasting money for our client before we got involved in optimizing their account.
It also provided some relevant terms, that weren’t on the keyword lists, that did turn in to conversions, such as:
- “t1 specialty services winnipeg”
- “best price t1 montreal”
- “internet business services in georgetown”
A more conservative approach to matching, phrase match is defined by Google as:
A keyword setting that allows your ad to show only when someone’s search includes the exact phrase of your keyword and possibly other words as well. The phrase match keyword “bicycle bell” can cause your ad to show if someone searches for “bicycle bell,” “buy bicycle bell,” and “bicycle bell reviews.”
Phrase matching eliminates a lot of the completely unqualified traffic you’ll see with broad matching, but also lowers the likelihood that you’ll find some potentially profitable, previously undiscovered keywords. Phrase match still requires a healthy negative keyword list, which we discuss further on in the article.
Just as it sounds, Google defines exact match as:
A keyword setting that allows your ad to show only when someone searches for the exact phrase of your keyword. The exact match keyword “bicycle bell” can cause your ad to show only if someone searches for “bicycle bell” exactly, with no other words.
Exact match keywords leave no room for Google’s interpretation, only showing your ads when someone types in the keyword exactly as you’ve specified. Assuming you’ve done your keyword research, will generally provide good ROI, but lower traffic volumes.
Modified Broad Match
This feature allows you to specify words that must be included in a search in order for your ad to be considered a match. Google defines modified broad match as follows:
Adding a modifier to your broad match keywords allows you to specify that certain words must be included in someone’s search term in order for it to trigger your ad. In this way, using broad match modifier can help increase the relevance of your ad traffic, and thus improve your click and conversion rates.
Modified broad match takes a lot of the waste out of using a broad match, while still opening the door for you to discover profitable terms that you may otherwise have not discovered and taken advantage of.
These are often overlook, but ultimately important when protecting your ROI from paid search. Quite simply, Negative Keywords are keywords that you DO NOT want included in a search term that triggers your ad. The most common example is the word “Free”, when you have no product or service that you are giving away for free. For example, if you were broad or phrase matching the term “tennis shoes”, you would likely get traffic for “free tennis shoes”, “tennis shoes for free” and all sorts of combinations that set a searcher’s expectation that they’ll be able to get something from you at no cost. If you included the word “Free” on your negative keyword list, you would be protected from showing up for these terms, saving you the cost for those clicks, and also the searcher’s frustration when they realize you don’t have what they want.
In our previously discussed client example, we might get the following kinds of matches without negative keywords:
- “free t1 internet service”
- “t1 internet in newfoundland”
- “t1 tax services”
all of these are bad for our client, because 1) they don’t offer free service, 2) they don’t provide service in Newfoundland, 3) they aren’t in the tax business. Fortunately, we can eliminate these types of matches by including these negative keywords: