In my last post about the new Google AdWords search query performance report, I mentioned that advertisers are going to start noticing problems with broad match keywords. I've been warning readers of this blog, since last year, to be careful with AdWords expanded matching. It's important to recognize that there is no such thing as broad match. Let me say that again: There is no such thing as broad match! Broad match is actually expanded match. This help page from Google about the new search query performance report serves as a good example:
Ad group A - [purple flowers]
Ad group B - "purple flowers"
Ad group C - purple flowers

When the user query is pink flowers, only Ad group C (purple flowers) can be shown for this query. The Search Query Match Type column will say BROAD.
IOW, a broad match of (purple flowers) can trigger an ad for a search on pink flowers. On the one hand, then, Google is putting the burden on advertisers to create rigorously relevant ads with custom landing pages in order to achieve a high quality score. On the other hand, Google is relaxing broad match so ads show up for keywords that aren't highly relevant.

purple flowersIf I've crafted an ad group around a "purple flowers" theme and am driving those clicks to a custom landing page (like these purple flowers), I'd be pretty unhappy to pay for clicks for pink flowers. Expanded matching is contrary to quality score. Is Google putting its own financial gain ahead of its advertisers? Or, is this a case of Google getting too big and the team coding the expanded broad match algorithm isn't working closely with those working on quality score changes? Whatever the reason, the expanded matching algorithm undermines changes advertisers have implemented in reaction to the quality score(s) algorithm.

So, how do you deal with broad matches implemented as expanded matches? I've found it useful to set discrete bids for all three match types. This is contrary to Google's advice:
There's no definitive Quality Score benefit to be gained from adding the same keyword multiple times with different match types to your account.

When choosing the appropriate match type for a keyword, we typically recommend following a 'broad-to-narrow' strategy:
  1. Start by using the broad matching option for a new keyword.
  2. Monitor which keyword variations are triggering your ads with a Search Query Performance Report.
  3. Refine the keyword.
Google does not recommend using all three match types in an ad group. They recommend starting with broad match only. This can be disastrous for a small business. I highly recommend using all of the match types (including negative keywords) in the keyword list for a single ad group. Think of it this way:
Google AdWords Match Types
Exact match is a subset of phrase match which is a subset of broad match, which is actually implemented using expanded matching. How do you apply this knowledge to your Google AdWords account, though? Set higher bids for exact than phrase and then lower bids for broad than phrase. Think of it this way:
  1. With exact match, you know exactly what keywords you're buying
  2. With phrase match, you have a pretty good idea what you're buying.
  3. With broad (expanded) match, you have absolutely no idea what you're buying!
Set bids accordingly. For instance, using the purple flowers ad group theme, that ad group's keyword list might look something like this:

[purple flowers] ** 0.44
"purple flowers" ** 0.21
purple flowers ** 0.07

You still derive the benefit of broad matches without risking too much of your budget paying for untargeted traffic. Track the actual keyword searches that the broad and phrase matches trigger and evolve the keyword list over time. Know what you're buying. Caveat emptor!

BTW, if you've found this Google AdWords tip useful, consider subscribing to Apogee Weblog. I write a fair amount about Google AdWords strategies. Also, try these 11 Tips for AdWords. Not 10. That list goes to 11.

Discuss this article in the Small Business Ideas forum.

August 2, 2007

Richard Ball founded Apogee Web Consulting LLC, a full service search engine marketing firm, to help businesses succeed on the internet. Apogee Web Consulting provides strategic internet marketing services including pay per click advertising, search engine optimization and shopping search engine submission. All search engine marketing services begin with a foundation of keyword research and web log analysis. Use the company's free search engine marketing tools.

Prior to starting Apogee Web Consulting, Richard was a software developer for America Online. He has a degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from MIT.

Search Engine Guide > Richard Ball > Purple Flowers Are Not Pink Despite What Google Might Think