Google AdWords is one of the most powerful tools you can use in digital marketing campaigns. If you haven’t used it before some of the technical aspects can take a bit of experimentation to achieve the results you want. In this article we’ll have a brief look at how to use Keyword Matches.
The way Google interprets and processes keywords sometimes can create results that are ‘hit and miss’. Increasing your understanding of how Google processes search terms will lead to better results.
The first thing to understand is the different types of close keyword variations. There are eight main types of close keyword variations as follows:
1. Misspellings—variations in spelling, including different regional spellings e.g. travelling and traveling;
2. Singular and Plural forms—e.g. shoe and shoes;
3. Stemmings—the root word and its derivatives e.g. shop and shopping;
4. Acronyms—the leading letters of a phrase e.g. SEO instead of Search Engine Optimisation;
5. Abbreviations—shortened versions of words e.g. st for street;
6. Accents—e.g. cafe versus café;
7. Different word order—provided the meaning is the same e.g. sports shoes versus shoes for sports;
8. Related searches—e.g. hats and headwear.
Another thing to be aware of is synonyms—these are words that mean the same thing (e.g. shoes and sneakers).
Finally consider the impact of functional words. These are essentially filler words like conjunctions (e.g. “and”), articles (e.g. “the”), and prepositions (e.g. “beside”). These filler words are often stripped out by Google as they process search queries to determine the most relevant pages to display.
Now that we understand these underlying terms we can look at the different types of matches and how they work.
This is the type of match that is set as the default. It is very expansive so your ad will appear to the widest audience possible. Often this will include instances where it may not be relevant. Your ad could be triggered by any close keyword variations as well as synonyms. If you are running an AdWord campaign using a broad match system, you won’t need to explicitly add all the variations to your keyword list because Google will include them for you.
Let’s use an example. Assume that your keyword phrase was “outdoor hats”. Your ad could be triggered by a great variety of variations: outdoor hat, hats for the outdoors, sports hats, baseball cap, cowboy hats, woolen hat, beanies, winter hats, work hats, sun hats, and so on. Your ad will therefore likely be displayed so often it could represent a significant drain on your advertising budget.
Broad Match Modifier
With the addition of a simple modifier symbol—in this case a “+” sign added to the front of keywords—advertisers can start to narrow the matches down as needed. This means your ad will be seen by a smaller audience than a simple broad match but the audience that sees your ad should be more relevant.
The biggest change this creates that you need to think about carefully before deploying your ad is that synonyms and related searches will no longer be considered close matches and displayed. However, Google will show your ad to people who searched for the same terms in a different order. So if “+outdoor +hats” is your keyword, your ad will be triggered and displayed in response to searches for both: outdoor hat and hat outdoors etc.
Matching phrases further restricts the triggering of ads.
In this case, the advertiser encloses the desired keyword phrase in quotation marks. This means that only search queries in the same word order as your phrasing will be triggered. Additional words can still come before or after the phrase but not within it. Keep in mind that close variations can still trigger your ad so you’ll probably want to experiment with this.
For example, if your keyword phrase was “cowboy hats” your ad could be triggered by variations like cowboy hat, leather cowboy hats, and cowboy hats for work but not by searches like cowboy leather hats, cowboy Stetsons, or Outback hat.
The final type is the exact match and as you’ve probably guessed it is the most restrictive. This means your ad is the least likely to be triggered but when it is you can be sure that the audience will be highly relevant and thus you can expect a higher click-through rate. If your company only offers a highly specialised range of products or services this would probably be one of the best match types for your business.
Using the exact match system if your keyword was “hats for work” your ad could be triggered by searches like work hats, hats work, work hat, and hat work but it would exclude nearly all other queries.
Whilst it’s very different for various situations, personally I will look to run with phrase match & a mix of broad match of modified for a baseline to campaigns.
For more information and examples you should look at Google’s online documentation: About keyword matching options.
It’s also worth checking out our recent article on negative keywords as these can help you fine tune your AdWords process further by getting specific about when your ads should not be displayed.