Ultimate Guide to Google Ads Keyword Match Types (2023 Edition)
Google Ads is a powerful online advertising platform that allows businesses to reach potential customers through paid search, display, and video ads. One of the key aspects of a successful Google Ads campaign is the effective use of keyword match types. These match types help you control which search queries trigger your ads, ultimately leading to better targeting and more efficient ad spend.
Table of Contents
Mastering Google Ads Match Types: Boost Your Campaign Performance
There are four main keyword match types you need to know about: broad match, phrase match, exact match, and negative keywords. Each has pros and cons, and understanding when and how to use them effectively can be the difference between a successful campaign and a costly one.
Let’s dive deep into each keyword match type, helping you understand their benefits and limitations, and providing practical examples to illustrate their use in real-world scenarios. Our main goal is to empower you to make informed decisions and implement the right match types to enhance your Google Ads campaigns.
Understanding Different Match Types in Google Ads
Broad Match: The Versatile Choice
Broad match is like a trusty Swiss army knife in your Google Ads toolkit. It allows your ads to appear for various search queries, including synonyms, misspellings, and related searches. This match type is perfect for those looking to cast a wide net and reach the largest possible audience. However, be cautious, as it can lead to irrelevant clicks and wasted ad spend.
Case Study: Local Florist Benefits from Broad Match
Imagine a local florist who wants to promote their flower delivery service. By using the broad match keyword “flower delivery,” their ads may also appear for search queries like “floral arrangements,” “send flowers online,” and “flower delivery nearby.” This approach can help the florist reach a larger audience and potentially uncover new opportunities.
Phrase Match: Striking the Balance
Phrase match is a great option for those who want more control over their targeting without sacrificing too much reach. With phrase match, your ads will show up for search queries that include your keyword phrase in the exact order, along with any additional words before or after it.
Example: Home Renovation Services
A home renovation company using the phrase match keyword “kitchen renovation” may have their ads show up for search queries like “affordable kitchen renovation” and “kitchen renovation ideas,” but not for “renovation ideas for kitchens.”
Exact Match: Precision Targeting
The exact match is the sniper rifle of keyword match types. It allows you to target only the specific search queries that exactly match your keyword, giving you the ultimate control over your ad targeting. This is ideal for highly competitive industries or when you have a clear understanding of your target audience’s search behaviour.
Case Study: High-End Watch Retailer Sees Success with Exact Match
A high-end watch retailer used the exact match keyword “luxury watches for men” to target potential customers searching for that specific term. By focusing on this precise search query, they improved their click-through rate (CTR) and return on ad spend (ROAS).
Negative Keywords: The Unsung Hero
Negative keywords are often overlooked, but they play a crucial role in fine-tuning your ad targeting. By adding negative keywords to your campaign, you’re telling Google which search queries you don’t want your ads to appear for. This helps you avoid wasting ad spend on irrelevant clicks and can significantly improve your overall campaign performance.
Case Study: E-commerce Store Boosts ROAS with Negative Keywords
An e-commerce store selling fitness equipment found that they were receiving a lot of irrelevant clicks from users searching for “gym memberships.” By adding “gym memberships” as a negative keyword, they were able to reduce these irrelevant clicks and focus their ad spend on users looking to purchase fitness equipment.
The Importance of Google Ads Match Types
Understanding the Role of Match Types in Ad Delivery and Performance
Google Ads match types are settings that determine how closely your keywords need to match with a user’s search query in order for your ad to be eligible for the auction. By selecting the appropriate match type, you can ensure that your ads are shown to the right audience, increasing the likelihood of attracting qualified leads and achieving a better return on investment.
Match types play a significant role in your ad’s overall performance, influencing factors such as:
1. Reach: The number of users who see your ad. Different match types have varying levels of reach, with broad match having the highest reach and exact match having the lowest.
2. Relevance: How closely your ad relates to the user’s search query. Highly relevant ads are more likely to attract interested users, improving overall performance. Match types such as exact match and phrase match generally deliver higher relevance than broad match.
3. Cost: The amount you pay for each click on your ad. Some match types, like broad match, may result in a higher cost per click due to lower relevance and increased competition.
4. Conversion rate: The percentage of users who click on your ad and complete a desired action, such as making a purchase or signing up for a newsletter. Match types like exact match and phrase match tend to have higher conversion rates as they target more specific and intent-driven search queries.
In summary, understanding and selecting the right Google Ads match types for your campaign is essential for achieving optimal ad performance. By carefully considering factors such as reach, relevance, cost, and conversion rate, you can create a more effective and profitable advertising campaign.
Let’s have a closer look at each of the match types – table then more details on each.
Each of the match types with examples
|Match Type||Definition||Syntax||Example Keyword||Example Search Queries That Will Trigger Your Ad|
|Broad match||Triggers ads for any search query that is related to the keyword, including synonyms, misspellings, variations, and other relevant terms||Simply input the keyword||running shoes||shoes for running, winter shoes, running accessories, buy shoes online|
|Phrase match||Triggers ads for search queries that include the keyword or a close variant of it, in the same order, with or without additional words before or after||Use quotation marks around the keyword||“running shoes”||running shoes, best running shoes for men, cheap running shoes near me, how to buy running shoes online|
|Exact match||Triggers ads for search queries that match the keyword or a close variant of it, exactly or with minor differences||Use brackets around the keyword||[running shoes]||running shoes, running shoe, running footwear, shoes for running|
Defining Broad Match and How It Works
Broad match is the default match type in Google Ads and offers the least restrictive form of keyword targeting. When using broad match, your ads can show up for searches that include your keyword, along with synonyms, related terms, misspellings, and variations. This match type is designed to help you reach the widest possible audience without having to manually add every single keyword variation to your campaign.
Benefits of Broad Match
1. Reach a wide audience: Broad match allows you to cast a wide net and capture potential customers who may be using different search terms to find what you’re offering.
2. Discover new keywords: As your ads show up for various search queries, you might uncover new, valuable keywords that you hadn’t previously considered.
3. Save time on keyword research: Since broad match covers a wide range of search queries, you don’t need to spend as much time researching and adding every possible keyword variation to your campaign.
Drawbacks of Broad Match
1. Low relevance: Your ads may show up for search queries that are not directly related to your business or offering, leading to lower click-through rates (CTR) and conversions.
2. High cost: Due to the lower relevance of some search queries, your cost-per-click (CPC) might increase, as you pay for clicks that are less likely to result in a conversion.
3. Low conversion rate: With less targeted traffic, you may see a decrease in your overall conversion rate.
Broad Match Examples and Ad Triggers
Suppose you’re running an online store selling eco-friendly products and use the broad match keyword “sustainable clothing.” Your ads could appear for search queries such as:
– Eco-friendly apparel
– Green clothing brands
– Sustainable fashion
– Environmentally-friendly clothes
Tips for Using Broad Match Wisely
1. Combine with negative keywords: Adding negative keywords to your campaign can help you filter out irrelevant search queries and avoid wasted ad spend. For example, if you only sell sustainable clothing for women, you could add “men’s” as a negative keyword to prevent your ads from showing for men’s clothing searches.
2. Monitor search terms report: Regularly review your search terms report in Google Ads to identify the search queries that are triggering your ads. This will help you discover new keywords to target and identify irrelevant queries to add as negative keywords.
3. Adjust bids and budgets: Keep a close eye on your ad performance and adjust your bids and budgets accordingly. If you notice that certain broad match keywords generate a high CPC or low conversion rate, consider lowering your bids or switching to a more restrictive match type.
Phrase Match: A More Controlled Approach to Keyword Targeting
Defining Phrase Match and How It Works
Phrase match is a keyword match type that balances targeting and reach. With phrase match, your ads will appear for search queries that include your keyword phrase in the exact order, along with any additional words before or after it. This allows for more control over your ad targeting while capturing a decent range of search queries.
Benefits of Phrase Match
1. More control: Phrase match gives you greater control over which search queries trigger your ads, ensuring that your ads are more relevant to the user’s search intent.
2. Higher relevance: Due to the increased control, your ads are more likely to be relevant to the search queries, leading to higher CTRs and conversion rates.
3. Better performance: With a more focused targeting approach, your ads can perform better overall, resulting in improved return on investment (ROI).
Drawbacks of Phrase Match
1. Less reach: Phrase match restricts your ads to search queries that contain your exact keyword phrase, which means you may miss out on potential customers using different search terms.
2. More competition: Since phrase match keywords tend to be more specific, you may face increased competition from other advertisers targeting the same phrases.
3. More keyword research: To get the most out of phrase match, you’ll need to invest more time in keyword research to identify and target the most relevant phrases for your business.
Phrase Match Examples and Ad Triggers
If you run a digital marketing agency and use the phrase match keyword “social media management,” your ads may appear for search queries such as:
– Affordable social media management
– Social media management services
– Social media management tools
However, your ads would not show for search queries like “management of social media” or “social media marketing.”
Tips for Using Phrase Match Effectively
1. Use long-tail keywords: Long-tail keywords are more specific and can help you target niche markets. Incorporating long-tail keywords in phrase match campaigns can lead to better ad performance and lower CPCs.
2. Use synonyms and variations: Since phrase match is more restrictive, it’s essential to include synonyms and variations of your target keyword phrase to capture a wider range of relevant search queries.
3. Test different phrases: Experiment with different keyword phrases to identify which ones perform the best for your business. Monitor your ad performance and optimize your campaigns based on the results.
Exact Match: Pinpoint Targeting for Maximum Efficiency
Defining Exact Match and How It Works
Exact match is the most restrictive keyword match type in Google Ads, allowing you to target only search queries that exactly match your specified keyword, including close variants like misspellings, singular or plural forms, and abbreviations. This provides the highest level of control over which search queries trigger your ads, ensuring that they are highly relevant to the user’s search intent.
Benefits of Exact Match
1. Highest relevance: With exact match, your ads will only appear for search queries that precisely match your keyword, leading to the highest level of ad relevance.
2. Lowest cost: Since your ads are highly relevant, you’re likely to achieve a better quality score, which can result in lower CPCs.
3. Highest conversion rate: With highly targeted traffic, your ads are more likely to generate conversions, resulting in a higher conversion rate.
Drawbacks of Exact Match
1. Lowest reach: Exact match limits your ads to very specific search queries, which can result in a significantly smaller audience.
2. Highest competition: Focusing on exact match keywords can lead to increased competition from other advertisers targeting the same terms.
3. Limited keyword discovery: Since exact match is so restrictive, you may miss out on discovering new and potentially valuable keywords for your campaign.
Exact Match Examples and Ad Triggers
If you’re promoting a web design agency and use the exact match keyword “responsive web design,” your ads may appear for search queries such as:
– Responsive web designs
– Responsive web design (with misspellings)
However, your ads would not show for search queries like “web design for responsive sites” or “responsive website design.”
Tips for Using Exact Match Efficiently
1. Use negative keywords: Even with an exact match, your ads may appear for close variants irrelevant to your business. Using negative keywords can help you filter out these irrelevant queries and further refine your targeting.
2. Use dynamic keyword insertion: To increase ad relevance and improve CTR, use dynamic keyword insertion (DKI) in your ad copy. DKI automatically inserts your exact match keyword into your ad text, making your ads more relevant to the search query.
3. Optimize landing pages: To maximize the benefits of exact match, ensure your landing pages are highly relevant to your target keywords. This can lead to a better user experience, higher conversion rates, and improved quality scores.
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Negative Keywords: Refining Your Google Ads Campaign
Defining Negative Keywords and How They Work
Negative keywords are a vital component of any Google Ads campaign, allowing you to exclude specific words or phrases from triggering your ads. By adding negative keywords to your campaign, you can prevent your ads from showing up for search queries that are not relevant to your business, saving your ad spend for more valuable clicks.
Benefits of Negative Keywords
1. Exclude irrelevant traffic: Negative keywords help you avoid showing your ads to users who are not interested in your products or services, which can lead to higher CTRs and conversion rates.
2. Reduce cost: By filtering out irrelevant search queries, you can save your ad budget for more relevant clicks, reducing your overall cost-per-click (CPC).
3. Improve quality score: Excluding irrelevant traffic can lead to higher ad relevance, better CTRs, and ultimately, improved quality scores, resulting in lower CPCs and better ad placements.
Drawbacks of Negative Keywords
1. Miss potential customers: If you’re too aggressive with your negative keywords, you may inadvertently exclude search queries from potential customers who could be interested in your offerings.
2. Limit reach: Overusing negative keywords can limit the reach of your ads, reducing the overall size of your potential audience.
3. Require maintenance: To get the most out of negative keywords, you must continually monitor and update your negative keyword list based on your search terms report.
Negative Keyword Examples and Ad Delivery Effects
Suppose you sell women’s running shoes and add “men’s” as a negative keyword. Your ads will no longer appear for search queries like:
– Men’s running shoes
– Men’s sports shoes
– Men’s athletic shoes
This ensures that your ads are only shown to users looking for women’s running shoes, which can lead to more relevant traffic and better overall ad performance.
Tips for Using Negative Keywords Correctly
1. Use different match types: Negative keywords can be applied as exact, phrase, or broad match, just like regular keywords. Choose the appropriate match type based on the level of exclusion you want to achieve.
2. Use keyword tools: Use tools like Google Ads Keyword Planner or third-party keyword research tools to identify irrelevant keywords that you may want to add as negative keywords.
3. Update regularly: Continuously monitor your search terms report to identify any new irrelevant search queries that may trigger your ads. Add these terms as negative keywords to keep your campaigns optimized and focused on relevant traffic.
Negative Broad Match: Balancing Efficiency and Precision
Benefits of Negative Broad Match
1. Easy to use: Negative broad match is straightforward to implement, as you simply need to add irrelevant or unwanted terms to your negative keyword list without worrying about specific phrases or exact terms.
2. Saves time on creating negative keyword lists: Using negative broad match can save you time on compiling extensive negative keyword lists, as it helps to exclude a wider range of irrelevant search queries.
3. Blocks irrelevant or unwanted traffic: Negative broad match helps you prevent your ads from showing up for search queries that are unrelated to your products or services, saving your ad budget for more valuable clicks.
Drawbacks of Negative Broad Match
1. Less precise: Since the negative broad match is less restrictive, it may inadvertently block some relevant or profitable search queries, which can limit the reach of your ads.
2. May block relevant or profitable traffic: The broader nature of negative broad match means that you might accidentally exclude potential customers who use search terms that are similar to your negative keywords.
3. Requires monitoring and updating: To ensure that your negative broad match keywords are not unintentionally blocking valuable traffic, it’s important to consistently monitor and update your negative keyword list based on your search terms report.
Tips for Using Negative Broad Match Effectively
1. Use negative broad match for general or common terms unrelated to your product or service: Negative broad match is ideal for excluding unrelated search queries that share common terms with your target keywords. For example, if you sell “organic tea,” you might add “organic coffee” as a negative broad match keyword to exclude search queries related to coffee.
2. Use negative broad match in combination with other match types to refine your targeting: While the negative broad match is great for blocking general unrelated terms, you can use negative phrase or exact match to exclude more specific search queries that you don’t want to trigger your ads. This combined approach allows for more precise targeting.
3. Use keyword tools and reports to find and add negative broad match keywords: Leverage tools like Google Ads Keyword Planner and your search terms report to identify broad terms that are consistently triggering irrelevant search queries. Add these terms as negative broad match keywords to refine your ad targeting and optimize your campaign performance.
Negative Phrase Match: Striking a Balance between Control and Reach
Benefits of Negative Phrase Match
1. More control: Negative phrase match gives you better control over the search queries that trigger your ads, as it only blocks queries that include the specific phrase you’ve designated as a negative keyword.
2. Higher precision: With negative phrase match, you can accurately exclude search queries that contain an exact phrase that is irrelevant or unprofitable for your business, without impacting other related terms.
3. Better performance: By excluding specific irrelevant phrases, you can improve your ad relevance, CTR, and conversion rate, leading to better overall campaign performance.
Drawbacks of Negative Phrase Match
1. Less reach: Using a negative phrase match can limit the reach of your ads, as it excludes specific search queries that contain your designated negative keyword phrase.
2. More competition: Focusing on negative phrase match may inadvertently increase competition for the remaining relevant search queries.
3. More keyword research: To effectively use negative phrase match, you’ll need to invest more time in researching and identifying specific irrelevant phrases that you want to exclude from your campaign.
Tips for Using Negative Phrase Match Effectively
1. Use negative phrase match for specific or intent-driven phrases that are not relevant or profitable for your product or service: For example, if you sell new cars, you might add “used cars” as a negative phrase match keyword to exclude search queries related to used vehicles.
2. Use negative phrase match in combination with other match types to refine your targeting: While negative phrase match is great for excluding specific irrelevant phrases, you can use negative broad or exact match to block a wider range of unrelated search queries. This combined approach allows for more precise targeting.
3. Use keyword tools and reports to find and add negative phrase match keywords: Leverage tools like Google Ads Keyword Planner and your search terms report to identify specific phrases that consistently trigger irrelevant search queries. Add these phrases as negative phrase match keywords to refine your ad targeting and optimize your campaign performance.
Negative Exact Match: Maximizing Precision and Performance
Benefits of Negative Exact Match
1. Highest precision: Negative exact match offers the highest level of precision when it comes to excluding irrelevant search queries. It only blocks search queries that match your designated negative keyword exactly, ensuring the most accurate targeting.
2. Lowest cost: By excluding the most irrelevant or unprofitable search queries with negative exact match, you can save on your ad spend and potentially achieve lower CPCs.
3. Highest conversion rate: With the highest level of precision, a negative exact match helps ensure that your ads are only shown to users who are most likely to be interested in your products or services, which can lead to higher conversion rates.
Drawbacks of Negative Exact Match
1. Lowest reach: Using negative exact match can limit the reach of your ads, as it only blocks specific search queries that exactly match your designated negative keyword.
2. Highest competition: Focusing on negative exact match may inadvertently increase competition for the remaining relevant search queries, as you’re only excluding the most precise and irrelevant terms.
3. Limited keyword discovery: Negative exact match may limit your ability to discover new keywords and search query variations, as it only blocks search queries that exactly match your negative keyword.
Tips for Using Negative Exact Match Efficiently
1. Use negative exact match for the most irrelevant or unprofitable keywords or phrases that you want to exclude from your campaign: For example, if you sell “organic tea” and want to exclude all searches for “organic coffee,” you can add “organic coffee” as a negative exact match keyword to ensure that your ads won’t show for that exact search query.
2. Use negative exact match in combination with other match types to refine your targeting: While a negative exact match is great for excluding the most irrelevant search queries, you can use a negative broad or phrase match to block a wider range of unrelated search queries. This combined approach allows for more precise targeting.
3. Use keyword tools and reports to find and add negative exact match keywords: Leverage tools like Google Ads Keyword Planner and your search terms report to identify specific search queries that consistently trigger irrelevant results. Add these terms as negative exact match keywords to refine your ad targeting and optimize your campaign performance.
Symbols and Their Impact on Negative Keyword Lists
Symbols are characters or signs with special meanings or functions in Google Ads. They can be used to modify or specify how negative keywords are matched to search queries. Understanding the correct use of symbols in negative keyword lists is important to effectively target your ads and optimize your campaign performance.
Examples of Symbols in Negative Keyword Lists
1. Quotation marks (“): Quotation marks indicate negative phrase match keywords. By placing a keyword or phrase in quotation marks, you’re telling Google Ads to exclude any search query that includes that exact phrase or a close variant of it.
* Example: “running shoes” – This will exclude any search query that contains the phrase “running shoes” or a close variant of it.
2. Brackets (): Brackets indicate negative exact match keywords. By enclosing a keyword or phrase in brackets, you’re instructing Google Ads to exclude search queries that match the term exactly or with minor differences.
* Example: [running shoes] – This will exclude any search query that matches the term “running shoes” or a close variant of it exactly or with minor differences.
3. Hyphen (-): A hyphen indicates negative keywords. By placing a hyphen before a keyword, you’re telling Google Ads to exclude any search query that contains that term.
* Example: -running – This will exclude any search query that contains the term “running.”
Tips for Using Symbols Correctly in Negative Keyword Lists
1. Use symbols according to the desired match type: Apply the appropriate symbol for a negative broad match, negative phrase match, or negative exact match, depending on your targeting goals and the level of precision you require.
2. Avoid using incorrect symbols or combinations of symbols: Using incorrect symbols or mixing up symbols can lead to unintended results or errors in your campaign. Make sure to double-check your negative keyword lists for correct symbol usage.
3. Regularly review and update your negative keyword lists: Continuously monitor your search terms report and make adjustments to your negative keyword lists to ensure that your symbols and match types are effectively refining your ad targeting and optimizing your campaign performance.
How Match Types Impact Conversions
Understanding the Conversion Impact of Each Match Type
1. Broad match: Broad match tends to have lower conversions because it attracts a lot of irrelevant or unqualified traffic that is not interested in your product or service. The wide range of search queries can lead to a higher cost per click and a lower return on investment.
2. Phrase match: Phrase match tends to have higher conversions than broad match because it attracts more relevant and qualified traffic looking for your product or service or something similar. By targeting more specific and intent-driven searches, you can achieve better ad performance and a higher return on investment.
3. Exact match: Exact match tends to have the highest conversions of all match types because it attracts the most relevant and qualified traffic looking for your product or service exactly or with minor differences. This precision allows for better targeting, resulting in a lower cost per click and a higher return on investment.
Tips to Improve Conversions for Each Match Type
1. Broad match:
– Use negative keywords to exclude irrelevant or unwanted traffic, ensuring your ads are shown only to those genuinely interested in your product or service.
– Monitor search terms reports to find new keywords or negative keywords, allowing you to refine your targeting and improve your ad performance.
– Adjust bids and budgets according to performance, ensuring you allocate your resources effectively to achieve the best possible return on investment.
2. Phrase match:
– Use long-tail keywords to target more specific and intent-driven searches, increasing the likelihood that users will convert.
– Use synonyms and variations to capture more relevant traffic, ensuring you are reaching users who are interested in your product or service.
– Test different phrases to find the best performers, optimizing your campaign to achieve higher conversions and a better return on investment.
3. Exact match:
– Use negative keywords to exclude close variants that are not relevant or profitable, ensuring your ads are shown only to users searching for your exact product or service.
– Use dynamic keyword insertion to match your ad copy with the search query, providing users with a more relevant and personalized ad experience.
– Optimize your landing pages to match your keywords and offer a clear value proposition and call to action, making it easier for users to convert once they click on your ad.
Googles Quality score in 30 seconds
Because we talk about quality score for improving returns with your match type, here is a quick 30-second explanation of quality score just in case you do not understand the concept or need a refresher as no one talks about it these days but they should. I guess it’s not in Google’s best interests to talk about when they want to increase revenue.
Google Quality Score is a critical metric for advertisers using Google Ads, as it directly impacts the performance and cost-efficiency of their campaigns. It is a numerical rating, ranging from 1 to 10, which evaluates the overall quality of an ad based on three primary components: expected clickthrough rate, ad relevance, and landing page experience. A higher Quality Score results in a higher ad rank and lower cost per click, enabling advertisers to reach their target audience more effectively and at a lower cost.
For example, if two advertisers bid for the same keyword, the one with a higher Quality Score will achieve a better ad position at a lower cost per click, thus maximizing their return on investment.
Components of Google Quality Score
To improve your Google Quality Score, you must focus on optimizing the three key components:
Expected clickthrough rate: Create compelling headlines and descriptions that cater to the user’s intent and incorporate relevant keywords. Utilize extensions such as callouts, site links, and structured snippets to enhance your ad’s visibility and relevance. Test different ad variations to determine which combinations yield the best results.
Ad relevance: Select the right keywords and match types for your campaign to ensure your ads are only shown to users with high purchase intent. Utilize negative keywords and keyword research tools to avoid irrelevant impressions. Ensure that your ad copy aligns with the content on your landing page, creating a consistent message for the user.
Landing page experience: Design a user-friendly and mobile-responsive landing page that fulfils the promise of your ad. Optimize your page speed, navigation, and content quality to enhance user experience. Implement conversion tracking and analytics to monitor and improve your page performance continuously.
Improving your Google Quality Score is essential for advertisers seeking to maximize campaign performance and cost efficiency. By focusing on enhancing the expected clickthrough rate, ad relevance, and landing page experience, you can achieve higher ad ranks and lower costs per click.
Below is a table illustrating the different performance levels for each component of Google Quality Score: landing page experience, ad relevance, and expected clickthrough rate. These levels are categorized as below average, average, and above average.
By striving to reach the “above average” level for each of the three components, advertisers can improve their Google Quality Score, thus positively impacting their ad performance and cost-efficiency.
Maximising ROI for PPC Ads
Understanding ROI and Its Importance for PPC Ads
ROI (return on investment) is a metric that measures how much profit you generate from your PPC (pay-per-click) ads compared to how much you spend on them. It’s a crucial factor in evaluating the effectiveness and efficiency of your advertising campaigns, helping you optimise them for better results.
How Google Ads Match Types Affect ROI
Google Ads match types play a significant role in determining the ROI for your PPC ads. They impact factors such as your ad’s quality score, click-through rate (CTR), cost per click (CPC), and conversion rate. Here’s a brief overview of how each match type affects ROI:
1. Broad match: Generally has a lower ROI because it attracts a lot of irrelevant or unqualified traffic that doesn’t convert well, increasing your overall cost.
2. Phrase match: Tends to have a higher ROI than broad match, as it attracts more relevant and qualified traffic, leading to better conversions and lower costs.
3. Exact match: Typically has the highest ROI of all match types since it targets the most relevant and qualified traffic, resulting in better conversions and lower costs.
Tips for Maximising ROI Using Google Ads Match Types
1. Choose the right match type for your goals and budget: Utilise broad match for reach and discovery, phrase match for control and performance, and exact match for precision and profitability.
2. Combine different match types for balance: To balance your reach and relevance, use broad match with negative keywords, phrase match with synonyms and variations, and exact match with dynamic keyword insertion.
3. Test and optimise your campaigns: Analyse your performance data using keyword tools and reports, measure outcomes with conversion tracking, and adjust your bids with bid strategies to optimise your ROI continually.
Organizing Match Types in Your Account
Why Organizing Match Types is Important
Organizing match types in your Google Ads account is crucial for several reasons:
1. It helps you structure your campaigns and ad groups more effectively and efficiently.
2. It prevents keyword conflicts, duplication, or cannibalization that can negatively impact your performance and waste your budget.
3. It makes managing and optimizing your campaigns and ad groups easier and more accurate.
How to Organize Match Types in Your Account
To organize match types in your Google Ads account, follow these steps:
1. Use a consistent naming convention: Name your campaigns and ad groups based on the match type (e.g., Campaign: Shoes | Ad Group: Running Shoes | Match Type: Phrase).
2. Use a hierarchical structure: Create a campaign for each product category, an ad group for each product subcategory, and a separate ad group for each match type within each subcategory.
3. Use a tiered bidding strategy: Bid higher for exact match keywords than phrase match keywords and broad match keywords within each ad group. Bid higher for more specific ad groups than more general ad groups within each campaign.
Tips for Organizing Match Types Effectively
To organize match types in your account effectively, consider these tips:
1. Use keyword tools and reports: Find and group relevant keywords by match type using tools like Keyword Planner and the Search Terms Report.
2. Use labels and filters: Segment and analyze your campaigns and ad groups by match type using labels to tag them and filters to view or edit them.
3. Use automation and scripts: Streamline and simplify your campaign management by match type using automated rules or scripts to create or pause campaigns and ad groups, or adjust bids or budgets.
Broad Match Modifier (BMM) – Now retired
The Broad Match Modifier was recently removed by Google, which was disappointing to us as it was a very useful tool, especially as we did not want to use broad match.
Broad Match Modifier (BMM) was a keyword match type in Google Ads that allowed advertisers to have more control over their broad match keywords by adding a “+” sign in front of specific words within a keyword phrase. However, in February 2021, Google announced the phasing out of BMM and its eventual retirement. Since then, phrase match has been expanded to incorporate some of the behaviours of BMM, making this section only relevant from a historical perspective.
How BMM Worked
BMM worked by requiring the modified word (or its close variant) to be present in the user’s search query for the ad to be triggered. Other words in the keyword phrase could still trigger ads if they were closely related, but the modified words had to be present.
Benefits of BMM
1. More flexibility than a phrase or exact match, as it allowed for additional words or variations in the search query.
2. More control than broad match, as the modified words had to be present in the search query.
3. Better performance than broad match, as it targeted more relevant traffic, leading to better ad performance.
Drawbacks of BMM
1. Less flexibility than broad match, as it required the presence of modified words in the search query.
2. Less control than phrase or exact match, as it still allowed for additional words or variations in the search query.
3. Worse performance than phrase or exact match, as it had a higher likelihood of attracting irrelevant traffic compared to those match types.
Examples of BMM Keywords
Using BMM, if you had the keyword “+running +shoes”, your ad could be triggered by search queries like “best running shoes,” “shoes for running,” or “running sneakers,” but not by queries like “jogging shoes” or “walking shoes.”
Please note that BMM is now retired, and advertisers should focus on optimizing their campaigns using the available match types: broad match, phrase match, exact match, and negative keywords. It’s a shame it’s gone, but Google is more focused on driving revenue and utilising its daily inventory as much as possible, so BMM got the chop. Good for Google, bad for advertisers.
The Evolution of Keyword Match Types
Over the years, Google has made several significant changes to keyword match types in the platform for both advertisers. Given we have just looked at the demise of BMM, let’s take a closer look at the other changes Google has made over the years.
Timeline of Major Changes to Keyword Match Types
1. 2002: Introduction of broad match, phrase match, and exact match – These initial match types allowed advertisers to target different levels of relevance and reach in their campaigns.
2. 2007: Introduction of negative keywords – This feature enabled advertisers to exclude irrelevant traffic from their campaigns, improving ad performance and reducing costs.
3. 2010: Introduction of modified broad match (BMM) – BMM provided a middle ground between broad match and phrase match, offering more control over broad match keywords by requiring the presence of certain words in the search query.
4. 2014: Expansion of close variants for exact match – This change made exact match more flexible by including plurals, misspellings, and other close variants, helping advertisers reach more users without having to add these variations manually.
5. 2017: Expansion of close variants for phrase match and BMM – This update further expanded close variant matching to phrase match and BMM, increasing their reach and flexibility.
6. 2019: Removal of the option to disable close variants – Google removed the option to opt-out of close variant matching, making it a standard feature for all match types.
7. 2021: Retirement of BMM and simplification of phrase match – Google retired BMM and expanded phrase match to incorporate its behaviour, simplifying match types and reducing the complexity of campaign management.
Reasons and Implications of These Changes
Google’s argument for these changes is to improve the relevance, reach, and simplicity of its advertising platform. By evolving keyword match types, Google aims to make it easier for advertisers to target the right audience while delivering more relevant ads to users.
Well, what do you think? Is Google Ads simpler to use? Do ads have more relevance? Do ads cost more or less these days? How have your conversion rates changed over the years and decades?
For advertisers, these changes can be both advantageous and challenging. On one hand, they offer increased flexibility and reach. On the other hand, advertisers must adapt to the changes and continually optimize their campaigns to maintain or improve performance.
For users, these changes are intended to enhance their search experience by displaying more relevant ads based on their queries. However, users’ expectations and experiences may vary depending on how well advertisers adapt to and utilize the available match types.
Overall, the evolution of keyword match types reflects Google’s efforts to tinker with its advertising platform for advertisers and users. However, the tinkering appeared to be for the benefit of advertisers and users until 2019. Now it would seem that it is more aligned to the benefit of Google and less to the user and advertiser.
Explain how to monitor and optimize match types for Google Ads campaigns
1. Use Search Terms Report: Regularly review the Search Terms Report to identify new keywords or negative keywords based on the actual search queries that triggered your ads. This allows you to refine your match types and targeting strategy.
2. Analyze Performance Metrics*: Monitor your campaigns’ key performance indicators (KPIs) such as click-through rate (CTR), cost per click (CPC), and conversion rate to understand how different match types are performing. Adjust your bids, budget, and targeting accordingly.
3. Test Different Match Types: Experiment with different match types to identify the optimal combination for your campaigns. For example, you can test broad match with negative keywords, phrase match with synonyms and variations, and exact match with dynamic keyword insertion.
4. Use Automated Rules and Bid Strategies: Leverage automated rules and bid strategies to optimize match types based on performance metrics. For example, you can use rules to increase bids for high-performing keywords or pause low-performing keywords, or use bid strategies such as Target CPA or Target ROAS to optimize your bids for conversions or revenue.
5. Segment and Compare: Segment your campaigns and ad groups by match type to analyze and compare their performance. This can help you identify trends, opportunities, and challenges specific to each match type and make data-driven decisions for optimization.
6. Optimize Ad Copy and Landing Pages: Align your ad copy and landing pages with the keywords and match types you target. For example, use dynamic keyword insertion for exact match keywords or create tailored landing pages for specific keyword themes in phrase match.
7. Stay Updated on Google Ads Changes: Keep yourself informed about the latest changes and updates to Google Ads match types and adapt your campaigns accordingly. Regularly review Google Ads Help Center articles, industry blogs, and forums for updates and best practices.
Understanding Google’s change in behaviour on match types
Googles Ads revenue represents 79% (in 2022) of Alphabet’s total revenue and grew by only 7.2% in 2022 from $US209 billion to $US224 billion. As the growth in Googles Ad revenue slows, it needs to find other levers to pull to try and drive further increases in Google Ad revenue.
Google Inventory – Searches and Ads
The second point I want to highlight here is the number of searches that take place each day – Google’s inventory (i.e. Google ads shown each day/week /year). According to internetlivestats.com, there are 40,000 searches per second, 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year.
Google Ads makes money by showing ads and getting a click, but if it does not show an ad on a search, this inventory (search result in which they can show an ad) is lost forever.
So to ensure Google can show ads to as much of its inventory as possible it needs to loosen the constraints on when a Google Ads account will show an ad, that is drive behaviour that will enable an ad to show as often as possible.
Using broad keywords as the example – the more broad keywords a person has in their Google Ad campaigns, and the larger the budget, the higher the chance an ad will be shown from those accounts when a search results page is generated.
Think of it as two inventory pools – on one side you have the number of searches each day and on the other side the number of ads you can show that will “match” these searches.
At the moment there is an imbalance. Google has more searches per day than ads it can show to those searches.
To match Googles searches with its ad inventory each day, Google needs to have more broad keywords being used by advertisers. If all your advertisers used exact match, you would match less and Google would earn less revenue. By have more broad keywords to match searches Google can show more ads and earn more revenue.
Here are some of the strategies they have deployed – that is, how does Google try and make the yellow broad match circle bigger to match daily searches?.
- Reduce control in match types: By reducing control, such as removing BMM, there is less precision to target ads, so an advertiser may end up using more broad keywords, increasing Google’s inventory of ads to show.
- Use Broad based keywords recommendation: As we will talk about next in more detail, Google recommends, under the auspices of best practice, that you can get a similar or better ROI by adding board match keywords. This skirts around the truth as we have discussed broad keywords do lead to more reach, but they see a fall in relevance, rise in cost and fall in conversions. But if they can get you to believe you should add more broad keywords, then they have more inventory to match with daily searches.
- Google Account Strategists: If you’re managing a Google Ads account for your business, you will likely have had multiple calls or emails from one of these. A Google account strategist is not an employee of Google despite the email address, they are actually employed by one of these companies and are a third party. They market themselves as having “immediate solutions” when they are just trying to get you to spend more and use broad based keywords among many of the other recommendations they will pitch. The more broad based keywords in your account, the more Ad inventory Google has to match with daily searches. When talking with a “Google Account Strategist” take note of what they suggest (don’t make the changes with them as they will want) and once off the phone decide if those changes will help your campaigns before implementing or seek additional help.
- Google Skillshop Training: Google provides Skillshop to enable users of Google Ads to better understand their platform and provide the ability for agencies to get a “Google Partner” badge. Under their AI-Powered Performance Ads Certification they have a subject called “Apply Recommendations Automatically”. In this subject, they are trying to enforce that applying recommendations is best practice, and Agencies are forced to answer questions confirming this (despite it being false) in order to get their Google Partner badge. All this does is get more people to potentially apply auto recommendations which will make their broad based keywords bubble of inventory bigger to match the number of searches taking place each day
- Performance Max: Performance Max is said to be built as a new-age product giving you access not just to search but YouTube, Discovery, Gmail, Maps and Display. It sounds great but we already had access to all these, they just combined them into a single product. If you ever tried running a Gmail campaign in the past you would be aware of how bad it was. By repackaging and eliminating the focus on keywords and match types Google has built the perfect product to create a pool of broad based ads to use in all that search inventory that was going to waste. This was a game changer for Google Ads in its goal to match search inventory with ad inventory. To give this a push, In mid-2022, Google converted shopping ads to Performance Max to fill up its ad inventory even further. Not so great for the advertiser unless you know how to use it to your benefit.
- Response Search Ads: If you advertise on Google Ads today you know that you have no choice but to use Responsive Search Ads (RSA’s). In theory, an RSA should be a good idea in that it provides Google with a range of headlines and descriptions and it can work out what gets the most conversions. They replaced Expanded Text Ads (ETAs) in July 2022. In a study by Frederick Vallaeys and presentation at SMX in 2021 he showed that RSAs perform worse that ETAs. Using RSAs, CTR increased (good), conversion rates dropped (bad) and return on ad spend dropped (bad) and so your cost per conversion increased by almost 22% (really bad).
He also argued that you should use them anyway because you will get more volume using RSAs than ETAs. What this really means is Google not only eliminated a very structured ad unit that delivered good results but also replaced it with an ad unit with more flexibility for them so that it could use up more of the inventory available. If Google was acting in the best interest of advertisers then would have left ETAs and given advertisers the choice.
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The Risks of Auto Applying Google Recommendations for Broad Match Keywords
Understanding Google Recommendations and Their Impact
Google recommendations are suggestions Google provides to help advertisers (their words, not ours) enhance their campaign performance and achieve their objectives. These recommendations are based on Google’s analysis of account data, industry trends, and established best practices (and Google’s desire to sell more inventory). Depending on your settings and preferences, these recommendations can be applied either manually or automatically.
The Role of Broad Match Keywords in Google Recommendations
One type of Google recommendation is the addition of broad match keywords to your campaigns or ad groups.
The Drawbacks of Auto Applying Google Recommendations for Broad Match Keywords
Auto-applying Google’s recommendations can lead to negative consequences for your campaign performance and return on investment (ROI). Automatically adding broad match keywords can:
1. Decrease relevance, quality score, and conversion rate by attracting traffic that is irrelevant or uninterested in your product or service.
2. Increase costs, competition, and inefficiencies by bidding on keywords that are overly broad, generic, or expensive.
Tips for Avoiding the Pitfalls of Auto Applying Google Recommendations
1. Carefully review and evaluate Google recommendations before applying them: Assess the impact, rationale, and details of each recommendation, weigh their pros and cons, and test them on a small scale before implementing them broadly.
2. Modify your settings and preferences to manage how Google recommendations are applied: Disable auto apply for all or specific types of recommendations, establish rules or filters to exclude certain recommendations, and opt out of account performance suggestions emails.
3. Rely on your own judgment and expertise to manage and optimize your campaigns and keywords: Utilize keyword tools and reports to identify and add relevant and profitable keywords, employ negative keywords to exclude undesirable traffic, and use various match types to strike a balance between reach and relevance.
How to turn off auto applying in your Google Ads account
Turning off auto apply for Google Ads recommendations involves navigating through your Google Ads account settings. Here’s a step-by-step guide on disabling auto apply for recommendations:
1. Sign in to your Google Ads account: Go to https://ads.google.com and log in with your credentials.
2. Access the Google Ads main menu: Once logged in, click the three-line icon (or “hamburger menu”) in the upper left corner to open the main menu.
3. Go to the “Settings” section: In the main menu, scroll down and click “Settings & Billing” to expand the section. Then, click on “Account settings.”
4. Navigate to the “Recommendations” tab: In the “Account settings” section, you’ll see multiple tabs. Click on the “Recommendations” tab.
5. Find the “Auto apply” settings: In the “Recommendations” tab, look for the “Auto apply” settings section. This is where you can manage the auto apply settings for your recommendations.
6. Disable auto apply: Next to each recommendation type, you’ll see a toggle switch. To disable auto apply for a specific recommendation type, click the toggle switch to turn it off (it will turn from blue to gray). If you want to disable auto apply for all recommendation types, make sure to turn off the toggle switches next to each one.
7. Save your changes: After turning off auto apply for the desired recommendations, make sure to click “Save” at the bottom of the page to confirm your changes.
Once you’ve completed these steps, your Google Ads account will no longer auto apply the selected recommendations. Remember that you can always revisit these settings to enable or disable auto apply for specific recommendation types as needed.
We have auto-apply for all recommendations turned off. This is not to say recommendations are bad, however, in our extensive experience, we have found a large number of recommendations, in general, to be poor, with a few good ideas here and there. So turn auto-apply off and once a week review the recommendations and dismiss those that are poor and either implement manually or accept those that make sense for your business and campaigns.
Impact of Machine Learning and Automation
Let’s take a quick look at automation given the world is crazy at the moment about automation and AI.
1. Increasing personalization and relevance: As machine learning and automation become more sophisticated, they will enable advertisers to create more personalized and relevant ads for users, leading to better ad performance and user experience.
2. Enhanced audience targeting and segmentation: Machine learning and automation will continue to improve audience targeting and segmentation capabilities, allowing advertisers to better understand user behavior and preferences, and serve ads to the most relevant audiences.
3. Advanced predictive capabilities: With the growth of machine learning and automation, Google Ads will develop more accurate forecasting and predictive tools, helping advertisers to make more informed decisions about their campaigns and budgets.
4. Integration of new data sources and technologies: As new data sources and technologies emerge, machine learning and automation will be able to incorporate them into Google Ads, providing advertisers with richer insights and opportunities for optimization.
5. Improved automation and optimization options: The continuous development of machine learning algorithms will result in more effective and intelligent automation and optimization features in Google Ads, further streamlining the advertising process and improving overall performance.
6. Balancing privacy concerns: As machine learning and automation become more powerful, there will be increasing concerns about user privacy. Google Ads will need to find a balance between leveraging data for better ad performance and respecting user privacy.
7. Increased importance of human oversight and strategy: Although machine learning and automation can greatly improve the efficiency and effectiveness of Google Ads campaigns, human oversight and strategic thinking will remain crucial to ensure that campaigns align with business goals, ethical considerations, and maintain a level of control over the advertising process.
8 Bad Actors: Just because it’s Google, does not make it squeaky clean as the catch cry of “Don’t be evil” is long gone. Like any industry, owners can become bad actors and the corporate world is littered with companies that became bad actors (see some examples below). We would argue that Google is already behaving immorally. Pushing advertisers to use auto apply of its Google Ads recommendations and attempting to solidify this behaviour further by “Google Account Strategists” and training is not in advertisers’ best interests. Ethics is clearly lacking in the management team at Google Ads.
Bad actor examples
1. Enron: The energy company’s fraudulent accounting practices and misrepresentation of financial data led to its collapse in 2001 and resulted in one of the largest corporate scandals in history.
2. Volkswagen: The German car manufacturer was found to have installed software in its diesel cars that manipulated emissions tests, leading to a massive scandal and lawsuits worldwide.
3. Wells Fargo: The bank faced criticism for opening millions of unauthorized accounts in customers’ names without their knowledge, resulting in regulatory penalties and fines.
4. Facebook: The social media giant has faced numerous controversies around privacy violations, misinformation, and election interference, leading to public backlash and increased scrutiny from regulators.
5. Purdue Pharma: The pharmaceutical company faced criticism for marketing the opioid painkiller OxyContin, linked to the opioid epidemic in the United States.
6. BP: The oil and gas company faced public outrage and criticism for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, one of the largest environmental disasters in history.
7. Boeing: The aeroplane manufacturer faced scrutiny and criticism for the design flaws in its 737 Max aircraft, which led to two fatal crashes and raised questions about the company’s safety practices.
In summary, machine learning and automation will play a more significant role in shaping the future of Google Ads, providing advertisers with advanced tools and insights for optimizing campaigns and keywords. However, human oversight and strategic thinking will remain essential to ensure success in this evolving landscape.