There’s a firewood delivery company that bids on keywords to find new customers. This fictional company, Smell Good Wood, specializes in aromatic firewood delivered right to your door.
Every ad click costs money.
The broader the keywords driving the advertising, the more traffic the Smell Good Wood website gets because more people search for general terms than very specific terms.
GOOD NEWS! If Smell Good Wood goes after broad keywords that many people seek, they’ll see more visitors to their website! This approach can help deliver a huge pile of folks in a much shorter period of time.
BUT, BAD NEWS! This huge pile of visitors includes many who quickly leave the website because they don’t see what they really want since the broad keyword cast such a wide net. And, Smell Good Wood pays for every single visitor who clicked whether the visitor leaves 5 seconds later or makes a purchase. That strategy can quickly burn up all the firewood profit.
So on the broad keyword wood delivery, the ad potentially shows up for anything related to people who would never be a customer. And of course, a number of these searchers will indeed be looking for scented firewood – our perfect audience.
To help decide how broad a net you want to cast around a particular audience, advertising networks like Google AdWords and Bing offer the ability to narrow your keyword specificity for “wood” all the way down from a huge log to a toothpick.
THE BASIC CONCEPT ON KEYWORD MATCH TYPES
- NARROW KEYWORD MATCHING
The more narrow and restricted a keyword match you set up, the better shot you have at getting someone interested in exactly what you intend with your keyword. But you may have limited traffic coming to your website, and you may pay more per click.
- BROADER KEYWORD MATCHING
The more broad a keyword, the greater volume of traffic you’ll get from people searching and clicking your ad; but you’ll likely pay less per click.
FOUR KEYWORD TYPES
Google AdWords gives the advertiser four types of matches for desired keywords:
- Broad match
- Broad modified match
- Phrase match
- Exact match
This AdWords selection makes it so your ad shows up when someone searches for a variation of your keywords, in any order of the terms. The broad match keyword "baby seat" may cause your ad to show if someone searches for variations like "baby car seat," and "safety seats for babies.”
It also means that even if you sell car seats, some of the searchers may be looking for help on installing a car seat, or car seat reviews, or another related topic. They may not be ready to buy a car seat today. But your ad may come up.
The advantage of a broad match gives the maximum possible volume of traffic for a variation of your keyword phrase. This can include similar phrases, plural versions, misspellings, related searches, and synonyms.
Another example is if you have “coats” as a broad match keyword, AdWords may show your ad for searches including that term or similar one like “coat,” “winter jacket,” or “sports coat.” It may also show for “coats for dogs” and “technicolor dream coats” if your advertisement text and/or your website landing page has some reference to such things.
BROAD MATCH MODIFIER
Google AdWords lets you use the wide-sweeping Broad Match and also identify keywords that MUST be included for a match.
So if our firewood company specializes in aromatic wood for people to burn, we may want a broad keyword of aroma firewood.
But if we just have it as a normal Broad Match, our advertisement may possibly come up with all sorts of aroma related products that burn (incense, scented oil burners, aromatic candles), not just good-smelling firewood. And it’s a waste of money if any of those searches result in a click.
However, if we specify our keyword as aroma +firewood, we have created a Broad Match Modifier.
This plus-sign in front of ‘firewood’ means that any broad matches MUST include firewood or a very close variation of that word. This helps ensure that the searcher is definitely looking for firewood.
Because this is still a Broad Match (with the + Modifier), the search engine will use known synonyms to the search terms.
So, the Smell Good Wood advertisement should appear if the searcher is looking for firewood and a word like aroma, aromatic, fragrant, fragrance, scented, smell, etc.
Bing and Yahoo Gemini also allow Broad Match Modifiers, though testing indicates that Bing’s algorithms don’t do as well as Google on keeping your intent for broad match modifiers.
Smell Good Wood is interested in its advertisements appearing for every person searching for best smelling firewood. This is their target customer!
By using quotations around this phrase in the advertiser’s interface, it’s telling Google and Bing that you only want clicks when someone’s search includes that phrase, in that order… “best smelling firewood” (including misspelling errors or other minor variations that don’t change the intent of the search).
Now, the actual searches people type may be something like:
- Best smelling firewood
- What is the best smelling firewood?
- Where to buy best smelling firewood?
Each of these three searches will be a match for our phrase, since it appears in the same order within the searcher’s inquiry.
And each of the people making these searchers are strong prospects to be new customers of Smell Good Wood! Traffic coming from “best smelling firewood” are likely to convert higher than a broad keyword like firewood delivery. However, only a small number of people actually search for the phrase “best smelling firewood”.
And because we specified a phrase match, these following relevant searches will not be shown our Smell Good Wood advertisement because they don’t contain the identical phrase we set up:
- What firewood smells the best?
- Most popular firewood
- Best smelling wood to burn in fires
These are also good customers we probably want coming to our website, but the current keyword phrase won’t attract them.
The good news is that for any given advertising campaign, we can set up many keyword phrases; so we can help plug the holes of missed customers created when we get really narrow on one keyword.
The most restrictive of keyword match types, which lets you pinpoint ONLY the exact searcher you want, is the Exact Match.
Unlike phrase match, which is only checking for a certain string of your keywords in the entire search (e.g., “best smelling firewood” phrase match will show up for someone seeking “where to buy best smelling firewood”), the Exact Match shows up ONLY for the exact match without any other words added in the search.
Exact matches, when thoughtfully put together, convert at the highest rate among all the keyword match types.
However, because most exact match keywords are very precise, the amount of traffic coming to the website is limited compared to broad or phrase matches.
RECOMMENDATIONS ON SETTING UP PPC KEYWORDS
Exact match keywords convert the best, because we know the customer is seeking exactly what you’ve set up for your keywords… [blue giraffe coffee mugs]… we know that customer is very likely to purchase a blue giraffe coffee mug from us!
Here’s how I’d recommend setting up your keyword campaigns, if you’re starting out:
- If setting up exact match keywords is delivering plenty of traffic to your website at a CPA (cost per acquisition) that still leaves healthy margin for your business; stop. You’re doing great.
- If exact match keywords are not delivering enough traffic, duplicate some of the better performing exact match keywords into variations of phrase matches; concurrently bidding a bit less on the phrase matches. And if this combination delivers plenty of traffic at a ROI that makes you happy, then you’re going great!
- If the combination of exact match and phrase match keywords aren’t giving you enough traffic, it’s time to start thinking about broach match and broad match modifier keywords. For a starting place, take a look at which exact and phrase match keywords get the most impressions; that will help guide the keywords to use in broad matches. The broad matches generally should be your lowest bid keywords, since it’s the broadest audience… the traffic you get is usually less targeted and hence won’t convert as well as an exact match.
- FINALLY, if you use identical keywords across the exact, phrase, and broad match types; you can use a strategy called cascading bids. This is where you bid the highest for exact, the lowest for broad, and somewhere in the middle for phrase.
Keyword matching requires on-going tinkering, adjusting, and testing to ensure PPC advertising remains a revenue driver for your business.
Fire it up!