February 16th, 2009

Don't ignore PPC keyword matching options

by sage island

Creating and implementing a Google AdWords account isn’t especially difficult. You choose your keywords, write your ads, determine a budget, and voila!  You’re up and running.  However, in order to achieve success with your PPC campaign, there is a certain amount of strategy that you need to consider, especially when it comes to your keywords.

Keyword matching options basics

Google offers four different keyword matching options: broad, phrase, exact and negative.

  • Broad match keywords allow your ad to show on variations of the keyword (i.e. synonyms) as well as similar phrases.  For example, if you chose a broad match keyword “phone,” your ad might be triggered by “cell phone,” “home phone service,” “headphone,” etc.
  • Phrase match keywords, notated by putting quotation marks around the word, allow your ad to show on variations of your keyword phrase.  For example, if you chose a phrase match keyword “cell phone,” your ad might be triggered by “cell phone providers,” “used cell phone,” etc. New words may be added before or after your phrase, but the phrase must be intact in the correct order to trigger your ads.
  • Exact match keywords, notated by brackets around the keyword, allow your ad to show only when the exact phrase is used in a search query with no words ahead or behind the keyword phrase.  In our “cell phone” example, your ad would show only when a user types the exact phrase “cell phone.”
  • Negative match keywords, notated by a negative sign before the keyword, are used to ensure that ads do not show for a particular search term.  For example, if you are selling only new cell phones, you might include the term “used” as a negative keyword.

Why is this important?

The main (and most important) goal of PPC advertising is to drive targeted, highly relevant traffic to your website, which in turn will drive sales and leads, as well as serve as a powerful branding tool for your business.  However, if you are running only broad match keywords, you are most likely getting traffic from users who are not looking for the exact product or service you are providing.  At the same time, you don’t want to only use phrase and exact match, because you don’t want to miss out on the additional traffic that broad match keywords can provide.

What to do?

At the start of your campaign, choose 20-25 highly relevant and closely related keywords.  Include each of these keywords as broad, phrase, and exact match.  Give your campaign some time to run and gather data for you.  Monitor your data, and after about a month, run a Search Query Report (found in the Reports tab in your AdWords account).  This report will show you the exact search queries that triggered your ads, which ones received the best CTRs, and which ones are leading to the most conversions.  Because it shows you the exact search queries used, you can also identify any words that should be included as negative keywords.

After your campaign has had enough time to run (1-3 peak business months), delete the keywords that aren’t getting you a solid CTR or conversion rate.  You can also use your top performing keywords to expand your list using words that are close variations of your best ones.

Although it may seem overwhelming at the start to have such long keyword lists, it will pay off in the end, and you will be sure to have the most relevant, targeted traffic coming to your site.