A refresher in maximizing PPC advertising – Match types part one

A common mistake in a Google AdWords campaign is to not make use of the available match types. Using different match types can help in the identification of additional keywords, increase Click Through Rate (CTR), increase Quality Score (QS) and decrease cost.

What is broad match you ask? Broad match is one of three match types (not including negative keywords, which I will discuss in Part 2) that Google offers when adding keywords to your paid search advertising campaign. The match types are:

  • Exact
  • Phrase
  • Broad
  • Modified broad

Exact match type refers to a keyword setting that allows your ad to show only when someone searches for the exact phrase of your keyword. The exact match keyword “GPS software” will cause your ad to show only if someone searches for “GPS software” or “software GPS” exactly, with no additional words in the query.

Exact match is good for high volume keywords but is not recommended exclusively in an account as it is too restrictive. An advertiser would have to think of all the possible variations of a keyword – a daunting task given that 20-25% of Google searches every single day are brand new.

Phrase Match

Phrase match refers to a keyword setting that allows your ad to show only when someone’s query includes all of the keywords in your phrase and possibly additional words as well. The phrase match keyword “GPS software” can cause your ad to show if someone searches for “windows GPS software” or “Android GPS software” for example.

Using phrase match, while definitely recommended, requires some follow up work to review the actual keywords that searchers used and to be sure these keywords are relevant. For example, if your site has GPS software, but not reviews of such software, you may not want to pay for traffic that is searching for “GPS software reviews” since they may be less likely to convert.

The combination of phrase match and exact match are the minimum match types that one should use in a PPC account.

Broad match

Broad match refers to a keyword setting that allows your ad to show as a match to search queries that Google deems to be relevant variations of your keywords such as synonyms, singular/plural forms, relevant variants of your keywords, and phrases containing your keywords.

Google’s idea of relevant may be different than yours. For example I have recently seen Google serve up a housekeeper’s ad for the search query “naked house cleaning”. Eek!

That doesn’t mean that broad match should not be used, just that it should be used carefully and like phrase match, requires additional follow up using the Search Query Report, to understand which keywords searchers have actually used. These additional keywords can then be used to create negative keywords (which we will discuss in part 2) or can be added to the account in phrase or exact match settings.

+Modified +Broad Match

Modified broad match is newer than the previous three match types and provides more control over broad match. Think of broad match with mandatory keywords. You modify the keyword by putting a plus symbol (+) directly in front of one or more words in a broad match keyword. Each word preceded by a + must appear in the user’s search exactly or as a close variant.

Close variants include misspellings, singular/plural forms, abbreviations and acronyms, and stemming’s (like “floor” and “flooring”).

Not considered close variants are synonyms (like “quick” and “fast”) and related searches (like “flowers” and “tulips”). The broad match modifier provides greater reach than phrase match because it allows for additional word(s) to be before, between, or after the keyword that has been modified with the (+) sign.

Improving exact match and phrase match

As of mid May 2012 Google will be “making improvements” to exact and phrase match so that your ad will be eligible to display when people search for close variants of your keywords such as misspellings, singular and plural forms, acronyms, stemming, abbreviations and accents.

This means that “GPS software” as an exact match will now also show for the search term “GPS softwares” and “global positioning system software”.

When this feature goes live in Mid May, by default AdWords accounts will show your ads for close variants of your keywords. You can restrict your exact and phrase match targeting for both existing and new campaigns by going to the Campaigns Tab, selecting the campaign(s) for which you’d like to change the matching options, then clicking on the Settings Tab and scrolling to the Advanced Settings section.

Check out Part 2 of A Refresher In Maximizing PPC Advertising where I discuss negative keywords.