It’s been a while since I’ve taken a deep dive into tactical campaign management strategies. As such, I wanted to focus on some low level tips today that will directly impact your campaigns. Specifically, I’m going to focus on Google AdWords match types and how you can leverage broad, phrase, and exact match to their fullest potential.
Tip 1: Always Start With Exact Match For Added Control
If you watched my recent PPC Ian video about launching new AdWords accounts, you already have a preview of my first tip today. It’s really simple: Always start with exact match, period. Exact match gives you the most control out of all match types. Exact match has the highest revenue per visitor out of all match types. Exact match is straight-forward and simple.
After starting out with exact match, you’ll have a great understanding of which keywords work and which don’t. In the cases where the keywords don’t work, you will have minimized your losses because you started with the most controlled match type. Now, it’s time to expand to phrase and later broad. As an ideal structure, I always like to see the largest number of keywords on exact, fewer on phrase, and even fewer on broad. Also, I’m a huge fan of separating the different match types into separate adgroups. Sure, this creates more adgroups, but you’ll see later that it offers even greater control for a niche strategy leveraging negative words.
While this tip may seem very basic, it’s amazing how rarely it is followed. Time and time again, I have experienced AdWords accounts over-weighted in broad match. Oftentimes, accounts are exclusively focused on broad match with very few exact match keywords. I can’t underscore it enough: The healthiest AdWords accounts are over-weighted on exact match.
Tip 2: Leverage Broad Match For Keyword Generation
I really like tip 2 because it ties into tip 1 very nicely. Once you have established your baseline of exact match keywords, it’s time to start experimenting with phrase and broad. I especially like deploying phrase and broad match variations of my top tier exact match keywords. Not only do they offer great volume expansion opportunities, but they also offer amazing keyword generation opportunities! You heard that right: I leverage phrase and broad match to generate more exact match keywords. The beauty of this tip is it keeps feeding back into tip 1 (over-weighting in exact match). As my phrase and broad match variations start generating some serious traffic, I’ll run a search query report. Those search queries that drove conversions (and are missing from my exact match keyword set) are immediately deployed as brand new exact match keywords. Why deploy them on exact? Simple: Exact match offers the greatest control in terms of traffic quality and also bidding.
Of course, it’s very important to not go overboard here. Search engine accounts need to remain manageable so it’s a judgment call whether to let phrase and broad match take care of a certain query or to deploy the query as a new exact match keyword in your account. If a query has driven a conversion, it’s important to deploy it in my opinion.
Another important point: 20 to 25 percent of Google queries are new. Because of this very fact, it’s important to have good phrase and broad match coverage. Moreover, it’s important to go far enough down the tail on phrase and broad match to help the algorithm match to all of these possible new queries. My point: Remember to keep things balanced and invest time building out phrase and broad match as well so you definitely capture those 20 to 25 percent of new, unique queries.
Tip 3: Leverage Negative Match Types To Improve Bidding Accuracy
I’d like to close out with my most advanced match type strategy. Remember under tip 1 when I said that I like to separate the different match types into different adgroups? That all comes to play with my final strategy of creating added bidding efficiencies with savvy match type execution. It’s really simple: Once I’ve separated the three match types into different adgroups, I like to leverage negative match types so the phrase and broad match versions get none of the exact match traffic and the broad match version gets none of the phrase match traffic.
Let me explain this through an example. Let’s say we deploy three keywords in three separate adgroups: [mortgage], "mortgage", and mortgage. Let’s say we have no negative words. Let’s even say that the exact match version is bid the highest, the phrase match in the middle, and the broad match the lowest. (Side note: This should usually be the strategy.) No matter what, the phrase and broad match variations will always get some amount of exact match traffic. Moreover, the broad version will get some amount of phrase match traffic. If the user types in the exact match [mortgage], it will sometimes get mapped to "mortgage" or mortgage. Why? Google likes to test.
We know that exact match offers the best quality traffic. Pay per click is all about optimization. Now, if some of that really high quality traffic is getting attributed to the other match types, we are probably over-valuing phrase and broad and under-valuing exact. What’s my solution? Easy: I’ll add [mortgage] as a negative keyword to both the phrase and broad adgroups. I’ll add "mortgage" as a negative to the broad adgroup. That way, my traffic is always perfectly segmented by match type and I’ll bid as effectively as possible. Another option: Place your exact, phrase, and broad keywords in separate campaigns. That way, you can also use campaign level negatives if you’re not fond of adgroup level negatives. Personally, I like to place negatives on the campaign level that are just plain bad keywords. I like to place negatives under this strategy on the adgroup level. These are two unique types of negative keyword strategies and it’s easier to keep them straight if I have them stored in different places.
Remember, good data is the foundation of a solid biding strategy. Leverage this structure and match type trick to your advantage and you’ll run circles around the competition!
Image of Dart Board © iStockPhoto – adventtr
Douglas Tise says
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Thanks Douglas, I appreciate the positive feedback!
I recently tried implementing tip 3. Adwords told me that A negative keyword ([exact match]) is preventing your ad from showing. Does this mean its preventing ALL keywords in that group from showing?
PPC Ian says
Thanks for the question. You should be ok. If you have an exact negative in adgroup with either a phrase or broad match keyword, it may throw an error message but you will only block the exact query (not other phrase or broad variations). Great question!
All the best,
Jim Spartan says
Several months late to the party but here’s another question that builds off Kian’s.
I ran across the same orange text warnings when running ad diagnostics after using the exact and phrase negatives in order to control which ad shows. In all of my cases you can quickly see it does show the ad (except for the negative match) by testing it thru ad preview, real time and actual impressions received. My question is concerns the excessive amount of warnings this generates. Do we know for certain that this is not another metric that Google uses to determine overall quality score?
Even though we now control which ad shows for which match type what if this method generates a higher number of warning messages than the average account? Could this have a negative impact?
Would appreciate your thoughts as well as any references from Google on this topic.
Thanks a lot for sharing, people can really benefit from this extract of your experience. This is all practical knowledge I agree however what would you suggest to advertisers managing over 60 retails clients at a tome. What would be the best strategy you suggest to balance time/efforts spent on managing PPC on low paying clients and results they get.
A little off topic but I believe many readers may have this question in their minds.