Getting the Most Out of the Broad Matching Option

In continuation of the first part of this article, we look at the usefulness of broad match types and the best ways to use in pay per click (PPC) marketing campaigns. The only way to utilize the expanded reach of broad match while restricting that reach to only relevant queries is to implement negative keywords within your account. Setting a negative keyword tells search engines “Don’t show my ad against this query.”

The challenge with negative keywords is much the same as the challenge with regular keyword research: How do you find all the possible keywords and variations that you don’t want your ad to show against?

Here are your options when it comes to discovering negative keyword candidates:

  • Pre-fabricated negative keywords – This is a decent way to get started, but remember that generic negative keywords may not apply to your specific niche, and many negative keywords you should be using are likely to be missing.
  • Use keyword research tools  – When looking for relevant keywords, you can keep your eyes open for terms that aren’t relevant to your business.
  • Check your search query reports – You can find negative keyword candidates by scanning your search query reports in AdWords for irrelevant terms that have matched against your ads. (This can be a slow process, of course, and will need to be repeated.)
  • Organic log files – It’s also a good idea to look for irrelevant keywords in your organic log files or the keyword reports in your Web analytics. This is more proactive, since it allows you to catch wasteful keywords before they trigger your PPC ads.
  • A negative keyword tool – Another proactive way to find negative keywords, a negative keyword tool (like this one from WordStream) works like a traditional keyword suggestion tool but helps you find potential negatives.

Using negative keywords in concert with the broad match option helps put your ads in front of the broadest possible audience of interested users, while ensuring that you only pay for relevant traffic that is likely to convert.

The broad match modifier

Google AdWords recently introduced a new feature, called the broad match modifier, that can also help you get more out of broad match. This feature allows you to define a middle ground between phrase match and broad match – in other words, it’s more restrictive than broad match, but still allows you to discover interesting long-tail variations on your keyword.

To use the broad match modifier, add a plus symbol (+) before one or more words in your keyword – this tells Google that the specified word or words must appear in the user’s search query. For example, if you put a plus sign before “tennis” in the keyword “tennis shoe,” only queries that include the word “tennis” will trigger your ad, though you may see traffic from keywords like “tennis equipment” or “tennis gear.” Using this feature strategically in combination with negative keywords will help you take advantage of broad match without blowing your budget on useless clicks.

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