Google AdWords Workshop – Part 5:
Keyword Match Modes

The following article is part 5 in our series on running your own pay-per-click advertising campaign with the Google AdWords program. If you are new to AdWords, read the introduction here first.

Prior to making up a list of keyword phrases that you want to advertise on, it pays get to grips with the three methods Google offers for matching your keywords to user search queries.

The three options are . . . broad match, phrase matching, and exact match.

Broad Match is the default option and acts like a wild card, meaning that your ad will display for all searches that contain your keyword or keyword phrase in any order, and with any other words.

Adding a keyword in Broad Match mode easy – just enter your keyword without any punctuation.

For example, let’s say we enter mountain bike parts.

Your ad will show when users search on those keywords in any order, and even if the query includes other words, such as parts for my mountain bike. Note however that your ad won’t be shown unless all the words in your keyword phrase appear somewhere in the user’s search.

To help prevent un-intended and undesirable Broad Match results, you can use a pre-emptive filtering tool called Negative Keywords. The Negative Keywords tool allows you to specify keywords that will result in your ad not being shown.

To enter a negative match, include a minus sign before the word or phrase.

The best way to use this tool is with a specific list of words that you know you want to filter out. For example, our mountain bike dealer might want to use mountain bike parts as a broad matched keyword phrase. However, if he doesn’t deal in used parts, he can add the word used to his negative keyword filter so his ad won’t appear when a user searches for used mountain bike parts.

Another example might be where you don’t want to attract those shopping around for the lowest price or something for free. In that case, you’d use free and discount as negative keywords.

If you decide to filter certain keywords across an entire campaign rather than just one Ad Group, Google makes it easy to do that via a link on the campaign level of your control panel.

Broad Matching and the Negative Keyword filter can produce great results in some scenarios. In combination with geo-targeting is one example. However, new advertisers should be wary of Broad Matching for several reasons. First, I’ve already mentioned the problem of un-intended matches. With so many other details to keep track of, it’s hard for new advertisers to anticipate all the irrelevant broad match queries that might eventuate.

And when it’s used without any other targeting, Broad Matching will often be penalized with a poor Quality Score and high minimum bid.

The main reason for that is because it’s nearly impossible to write an ad that’s good match for all the phrase variations that can occur.

The other problem is with reporting. If I ran the keyword mountain bike on broad match, Google would serve my ad for searches on phrases like mountain bike sales, mountain bike store and mountain bike guide. But any clicks would only be reported against the root term mountain bike . . . I wouldn’t know which of those longer phrases produced the click.

More experienced advertisers get around this by coding all their Destination URL’s with tracking information, but that’s not something that most newcomers want to leap straight into.

You can gain more control over the audience you target by using Phrase Matches. To phrase match, put double quotation marks around the phrase when you add it as a keyword.

With this option, your ad only appears if the user searches for your keywords in the order you have Specified, but other terms can still precede or follow the phrase.

So, mountain bike parts in quotes will show your ad for searches on Kona mountain bike parts, but NOT against searches on parts for Kona mountain bike.

Phrase Matching can be very effective, but to narrow your targeting even further, consider changing your phrase match into an exact match.

To specify exact matching, include square brackets around your keywords.

When you do that, your ads will only appear when users search for the exact phrase mountain bike parts, in that order, and without any other terms in the query.

That means your ad won’t show for the query Kona mountain bike parts for example.

You won’t receive as many ad impressions with exact matching, but the click-through-rate will be better for targeted phrases.

It’s apparently also not widely used by new advertisers, so you might get onto some bargains by using exact matches.

Okay . . . that covers the matching options that you can choose, but you also need to be aware of a matching feature that runs automatically in the background. Google calls this feature Expanded Broad Match.

Expanded Broad Match

With expanded matching, the AdWords system automatically runs your ads on relevant keywords, including synonyms, related phrases, and plurals, even if you haven’t specified them in your keyword lists.

For example, if your keyword is used mountain bikes, Google may also run your ad for searches on pre-owned mountain bikes and second hand mountain bikes.

Expanded matching only applies to your broad matched keywords, it doesn’t affect keywords you’ve specified as phrase matches or exact matches.

Currently, the only way to opt out of expanded matching is to specify all your keywords as either phrase matches or exact matches.

Again, if there are particular expanded match keywords that don’t want your ads run against, use the negative keyword filter.

Okay, that’s keyword matching. In the next post I’ll talk about keyword research and selection . . . see you then.

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