adwords on budget: use exact match (and phrase match) instead of the broad match

Google AdWords gives you three different ways to match your keywords to a user queries. They are: Broad match, Phrase match and Exact match. First you should familiarize yourself with how exactly these three match types work, which will help you decide on how best to use it in your case.

The first impulse when creating a campaign is to use the broad match so that you can show for all the matching search queries, including the ones that you have not foreseen. This will also help to to generate more impressions for your keywords. While this is a great idea, using just the broad match type does have its disadvantages. I mostly use the phrase match as generally it has some advantages over broad match type.

I have seen many campaigns by novice users that you use just the broad match for all the keywords. This gives a “false” sense of security that you are covering all your bases, but it also have the potential to eat up your budget pretty quickly. By using the match types appropriately, you can focus your budget to target high converting searches while staying within the limited budget.

Here is a three step process, which i usually find very useful to identify the most relevant keywords while still staying with in your budget…For this post, we will assume that you are selling or marketing for a chocolate and candy store.

Use only exact match

The first step is to come up with a few keywords or key-phrases that accurately describes what you are selling. This could be something like: red and black chocolate candy. This is a keyword that is 5 words long and very specific. Your keyword should ideally be at least 3 words long. You should come up with at least three of such keywords.

Some other examples could be red chocolate bar, dark chocolate bar, red white and blue chocolates etc etc.

The next step is to use only exact match for your keywords. This will significantly reduce the number of impressions that you receive for each the keywords, but will help you to target and focus on the high converting keywords.

But, what about all those search queries that you are missing?

Add in phrase match

If you are worried about missing out on the numerous other queries that does not match the exact keyword, then you can add the phrase match variation of the keyword as well. You could either change the existing exact match to phrase match or create a new keyword with the phrase match.

This is also useful if the exact query returns only very few impressions for you and use much lower that your targeted budget. I usually let the exact match keywords run for several days to gauge the impressions that it generates before adding the phrase match in.

But, what if it still does not get enough impressions and clicks…? Then, try to come up with more keywords. Obviously adding the broad match will help, but I always recommend against it as it can quickly make the campaign messy and you can lose track of the exact queries that are matching and converting.

Adwords experts may disagree with me here,…yes…once you are well-versed in Adwords and figure out how you can co-relate your Analytics data with Adwords etc etc, broad matches can be quite handy. But if you are just starting out, then i would say stay away from it as much as possible.

Use all three and compare the conversion

Having said that, the broad match is a good tool to find new keywords and search queries that could convert well for you. I recommend that you use broad match to find high converting search queries. There are several different ways you can do this. I will elaborate on a simple method that I routinely resort to with broad matches…

Create a separate campaign, which is a testing campaign where you can dump all keywords that you want to test. A separate campaign helps to specify a small budget which helps with the overall budget as you try out different match types and keywords.

Create all the keywords you want to test inside this campaign. Create all three match types for each of the keywords and let it run for a while. You will see that your broad match type is getting a lot more impressions than the phrase and exact matches. If it is not, then you were probably right-on with your keyword guesses straight out of the box.

Now, compare the three matches for each keyword or keyphrase to determine how much more impressions you are generating for broad match and what the returns on that is. You can compare the click thru rate and/or revenue for each of the matches. This will tell you whether it is going to be profitable to pursue them.

Once you have determined that it is worthwhile and that you are indeed missing some good converting keywords, try to drill deeper to find these exact search queries. You can use the Analytics data to find these search queries that matched against your keywords. If you use Google Analytics, you can find this data under the Adwords Search Queries report. You can access this report in the Analytics UI by following Acquisition -> Adwords -> Search Queries. Select the keyword variable as the secondary variable in the report.

Create a new campaign or an ad group for the new keyword. Add the keyword into the new campaign as either a broad match or a phrase match. Create new ads for this keyword which more targeted and relevant to the keyword. You can now delete the keyword from the test campaign.

After several iterations, you should now have a highly segmented set of campaign which are very targeted towards your most profitable keywords. You should still regularly monitor these campaign to ensure that it is still profitable over longer period of time.

The above steps should allow you to maximize your return on investment for each of the keyword while still keeping the total budget under control.