Increase Conversions and Save Ad Spend Using Match Types

In most Pay per Click (PPC)/ Search Engine Marketing (SEM) platforms you are able to expand or narrow the searches that trigger your ad using match types. These match types can give you greater control, decrease spend, and increase conversions when used correctly.

Since this is new terminology to most people I'll define a few items here:

  • Keywords are the words you select and bid on, ex: red shoes

  • Search Queries are the actual words someone typed that would cause your ad to show up in the paid ad results, ex: new red shoes.

  • Match Types (as defined exactly by Google)
    Google Adwords Match Types

Exact Match

  • If you surround your keywords in brackets -- such as [tennis shoes] -- your ad would be eligible to appear when a user searches for the specific phrase tennis shoes, in this order, and without any other terms in the query.

  • You likely won't receive as many impressions, clicks, or conversions with exact match as you would with broad match. However, if you've carefully constructed a comprehensive keyword list, the traffic you do receive may be more targeted to your product or service.

Phrase Match

  • If you enter your keyword in quotation marks, as in "tennis shoes" your ad would be eligible to appear when a user searches on the phrase tennis shoes, with the words in that order. It can also appear for searches that contain other terms as long as it includes the exact phrase you've specified.

Broad Match

  • This is the default option. If your ad group contained the keyword tennis shoes, your ad would be eligible to appear when a user's search query contained either or both words (tennis and shoes) in any order, and possibly along with other terms. Your ads could also show for singular/plural forms, synonyms, and other relevant variations.

Negative Match

  • If your keyword is tennis shoes and you add the negative keyword -used, your ad will not appear for any searches that contain the word used.

  • Negative keywords are especially useful if your account contains lots of broad-matched keywords. It's a good idea to add any irrelevant keyword variations you see in a Search Query Performance Report or the Keyword Tool as a negative keyword.

How To Use Match Types Most Effectively

Almost everyone’s first reaction to setting up a paid search campaign is to use as many keywords as possible and show up for the maximum number of searches. The reasoning behind it makes sense and it isn’t crazy to think that way. Unfortunately, this is completely the opposite of the direction you should be headed.

What you don’t want to do is jump to the default broad match straight away. You actually want to start on the other end of the spectrum in order to make to make the most of your adspend and keep your conversion rates high. In reality the best way is to start with specific exact, phrase and negative keyword combinations before even thinking about using broad match.

When you think about it, Broad Match keywords buy you a very mixed bag of search queries. Essentially you are throwing money and keywords at a wall and seeing what sticks, at a large cost to you. You wouldn’t approach any other aspect of your marketing, online or traditional, in this way, so why would you do it here?

Now don’t get us wrong, we aren’t tossing Broad Match out the window and saying it has no use. It actually has a place in most paid search campaigns. Using Broad Match is a good way to experiment, such as using a long tail test of keywords that aren’t your main target. As long as you keep your bids and budget very low, and it doesn’t take up money you would have otherwise been spending on your main campaigns, this can help you discover additional keywords. Once they’ve passed the test at the broad level you can give them a promotion to Phrase or Exact match.

Over the long run, if you actively manage your account you can think of Broad Match as a tool whose job is to find you good Phrase and Exact match keywords to add to your account. Even then, if you have a limited budget, have a unusually low conversion rate, or are new to paid search in general, then avoid using Broad Match until you’ve got a steady return on ad spend for your Exact and Phrase based campaigns.

- Amber Scott, Consultant at eBoost Consulting

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