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PPC Keyword Match Strategy: The Complete Guide

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When you delve into pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, you need to be familiar with the different choices you have in setting up how a user’s search triggers the appearance of your ad on the search engine results page (SERP). Depending upon how you have set up your PPC campaign, if a searcher enters one set of words into the search box  your ad will appear; the same search with a different keyword match choice will not trigger your ad. What you ultimately want is to set up your campaigns so that you get the most bang for your buck — your ad matches searches in a way that is most cost-effective for you and most optimal for connecting with people looking for the information and services you offer. In other words, you want to “match” searcher to keyword(s), just like the mother-and-daughter dog duo at the left have outfits that match each other. But how do you do this?

The first important step is to understand your choices in how you set up the matching options for the keywords you want to use in your PPC campaigns. A number of types exist from which to pick, but what are those options? What are broad match keywords? Why use phrase match keywords? Which keyword match types are most effective at driving traffic? Which keywords match types are smarter choices financially? Everything you have ever wanted to know about PPC keyword match types and PPC keyword match strategy can be found below…

1. Broad Match

The broad match keyword will be triggered when any of the words in the keyword are used by the Internet user and in any order too.

Essentially, broad match keywords are the keywords that tend to cost the most for the PPC advertiser to run because the number of Internet users who might enter the phrase into the search engine query box is bound to be very high.

In most cases, clickthrough rates on broad match keywords are much lower than on other keyword match types too, because many people click to see if the search listing applies to them only to realize that it was not what they were looking for. Hence the title … broad match keyword type.

The PPC advertiser who is relying on an account entirely consisting of broad match keywords is being very lazy indeed and this laziness is costing him or her money. Broad match keywords need to be included, but they should not be selected by default.

For example, it is important to note that broad match keywords can be helpful to the PPC advertiser in some respects because the broad match keyword will drive more traffic to your site which is something that helps let people know that you exist. Getting your name out there is important and using broad match keywords to bring in new Internet users by the plentiful is one way of getting things done.

Broad match keywords also help to account for any kind of keyword variation possible too. This is helpful because it is impossible to cover all corners and account for everything in life, including in PPC Management. Broad match keywords can help to sweep up the traffic that you might have missed with other match types.

2. Modified Broad Match

When you include the plus (+) sign in front of a broad match keyword, Google automatically knows that what you actually want to do is to turn this broad match keyword into a modified broad match keyword. The modified broad match keyword will only trigger your PPC advertisement if ALL of the keywords in your keyword phrase are used by the Internet user.

In simple terms this means that when you set up a modified broad match keyword for sneakers (something like… +Adidas +female +sneakers), your PPC advertisement will only appear when ALL three keywords are used by the Internet user. Your PPC advertisement will not be triggered by keyword searches such as “Adidas sneakers” or “female sneakers” because all three words need to be used in order for the advertisement to appear.

In reality, the results are not that different from broad match keywords that you set up, but the slight change does help to focus better on your intended target audience. Traffic volume might be a little less, but clickthrough rate is likely to rise too.

3. Phrase Match

Phrase match keywords are the keywords that PPC advertisers can use to really start focusing on targeting their intended audience effectively. When you place your keyword within quotation marks, Google will recognize that you want to treat that keyword as a phrase match keyword. Some examples? “Used mountain bikes” or “discounted mountain bikes.”

However, it is important to know what a phrase match keyword actually means. When you place quotation marks around the phrase match keyword, all the words must be entered into the search engine query box in order for the PPC advertisement to be triggered, but the advertisement can also be triggered when the phrase is entered and another word is included either before or after the quoted phrase too.

Therefore, “used mountain bikes” will also be matched by “used mountain bikes children.” This could present a problem if you were only selling used mountain bikes for adults. Similarly, “discounted mountain bikes” might also be triggered by “discounted mountain bikes repairs,” which presents an issue for those people who are selling bikes and not offering bicycle repairs.

This is why when working with a phrase match list of keywords you still need to construct a fairly extensive negative keyword list.

The best thing about phrase match keywords is that they really help to weed out the unwanted Internet users better than broad match and modified broad match keywords. Relevancy with the help of phrase match keywords increases incredibly and quality scores normally improve too.  If you need to better manage your budget, invest more in phrase match keywords, as it is probable that you will achieve a lower cost per click (CPC) than with broad match and modified broad match keywords.

If you really want to take advantage of the power of the phrase match keyword, use the data that you gather on them to then select certain keywords as exact match keywords. Sometimes it is possible to find the perfect exact match keyword that converts every time thanks to the data that you gather on phrase match keywords over a period of a couple of weeks.

4. Exact Match

If your PPC campaign does not include exact match keywords, you are really not trying hard enough to make the very best of what you have with your PPC advertising. All PPC advertisers must include exact match keywords in their campaigns if they really want to increase conversions, improve quality score and reduce cost per click as a result.

The exact match keyword saves you money but it doesn’t require you to develop a really long list of negative keywords at the same time, like the phrase match keyword does, because the exact match keyword is exactly that… an exact match. Unless the Internet user enters the exact phrase into the search engine query box (which means placing the words in the exact right order with no other words either side), the PPC advertisement will not be triggered.

The exact match keyword might not bring in floods of traffic, but the traffic that it does attract will be extremely well-targeted, the cost per click will be low, and both conversion rates and quality score will soar.

Take the time to research your keywords well and make sure that you take care with your exact match list. These keywords are definitely worth the effort and detail in the long run.

Conclusion

So there you have it! A concise guide to the types of keyword match options that Google offers and the main advantages and disadvantages to each. Take the time to review the way you are currently using keyword match in your PPC campaigns and you may find ways in which you can boost conversions and quality score.

Image: Matching Dogs by Shutterstock

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3 Comments

  1. I always try to avoid broad match keywords when building my strategy. They have never worked for me and I end up spending all of my budget for nothing.

  2. David ODonnell

    How about negative and embedded keyword match types?

  3. This is a top post for PPC beginners, David. I've had many clients who haven't understood the concept of keyword match which has been detrimental to their campaign performance.