As the cliché goes, a house can’t be built without first laying the foundation.  This post is dedicated to “matching options”, a basic pay-per-click concept that can sometimes get confusing to new PPC advertisers.  The main goal for advertisers is to match their ads with the most qualified search queries.  i.e. The searcher most likely to click on the ad and complete the advertiser’s goal for their website (purchase/sales, leads, newsletter signups, registration, etc…)  Google has four keyword matching options that determine which searches trigger your ads to appear.  The options were built to help the advertiser control who sees their ads, control costs, and ensure the most targeted and qualified traffic is clicking on their advertisement.

1.    Broad Match:  This is the most basic option and happens to be the default when a campaign is set up.  This option is less targeted than the “phrase” and “exact” match options and Google will run your ads on relevant variations of your keywords, even if these terms aren’t in your keywords lists.  Keyword variations include synonyms, singular/plural forms, relevant variants of your keywords, and phrases containing your keywords.

Example:  The keyword you are bidding on is, snowboard jackets.  Ads may appear for searches including snowboard, jackets, buy snowboard jackets, Burton snowboard jackets, winter jackets, snowboard coats, used snowboards.

Pro:  This option allows you to serve your ad to the broadest audience.
Con:  It often generates invalid/unqualified clicks and can increase costs.

2.    Phrase Match:  With this option, Google matches your ad only against keywords that include the phrase you designate specifically in that order.  You can designate this by typing quotation marks around the keyword in the Google interface or by simply selecting the phrase match option.
Example:  The keyword you are bidding on is, “red coat”.  Ads may appear for searches including “cheap red coat”, “buy red coat”, large red coat”.

Pro:  This option allows you to narrow your audience and focus your marketing efforts.
Con:  If one of your goals as an advertiser is generating brand awareness you are eliminating a large base of searchers from ever seeing your ads.  Additionally, if the user happens to misspell a word, or not type it in the exact order, “buy coats red”, then ads would not be served to a segment that really wants your product or service.

3.    Exact Match:  This is the most specific option and your ad would only appear when a user searches for the specific phrase in that order.  You can designate this by typing brackets around the keyword in the Google interface or by simply selecting the exact match option.
Example:  The keyword you are bidding on is, [wetsuit repair].  Ad would only appear for searches including wetsuit repair, in that order, and without any other terms in the query.

Pro:  This option allows you to target your ad spend as much as possible.
Con:  Same as phrase match, but to a higher degree.

4.   Negative Match:  Negative keywords function as a filter to prevent ads showing to unwanted visitors.  This eliminates the amount of untargeted and/or invalid clicks and help control costs.

Example:  The keyword you are bidding on is, snowboard jackets.  If you add the negative keyword ‘cheap’, you ad will not appear for any searches containing the keyword ‘cheap snowboard jackets’.

As you can tell there is a lot to consider when building your keyword list.  In order for your ppc campaigns to be as effective as possible it is a good idea to have a clear understanding of your audience, your marketing and business goals, and your budget well before-hand to ensure you are getting the most effective return on your ad spend.

Kurt Kaufer

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