If you want to take your paid advertising to the next level, you need to be using Google AdWords. I’ve written at length about this versatile platform, and why you absolutely need it. It’s the Holy Grail of internet advertising, and if you’re a savvy business owner, you’ve likely already made it a central part of your marketing efforts…and you’ve also likely spent hours banging your head into a proverbial wall, wondering why-oh-why your campaigns aren’t performing the way you want them to.
It’s maddening, really. You set your keywords, set your budget, sit back, and then inevitably watch your budget get eaten up, often without producing the results you want. Making your campaigns profitable can seem like a daunting task, but there’s an incredibly simple step you can take to really lean out your Google advertising: selecting the right types of keyword matches.
Creating a paid search campaign isn’t difficult in theory. You create an advertisement, select a list of relevant keywords, and place bids so that your ad appears in Google when those keywords are searched. Simple, right?
Before you can display your ad, you have to decide which type of campaign you’re going to be using. Google offers a variety of different campaigns for achieving different objectives.
You can choose for your ads to appear solely in Google and its search networks (“Search Network only”), in search networks and on pages filled with relevant content (“Search Network with Display Select”), only on other pages (“Display Network only”), and even on YouTube (“Video”).
They all have their advantages, but for simplicity’s sake we’ll only focus on one for now, “Search Network only”. This type of ad will display in search networks when people enter the keywords you bid on.
Which leads us to our next step: selecting the type of keyword match you want to bid on. This is a crucial step, and one that people usually don’t spend nearly enough time on.
There are three different keyword match types you have to select from when you create a Google ad campaign: broad, exact, and phrase.
A broad match will display your ad whenever your keyword is typed in any order. It can display your ad when a synonym of your keyword is searched for, when a plural version of your keyword is searched for; really any time a search is entered that your ad might be relevant for.
The big allure to broad match keywords is that they can do a lot of tedious work for you. Let’s say you want to bid on the term “gym shirt”, for example. Instead of having to enter in every variant of that exact query (like “xl gym shirt”, “shirt for gym”, etc.), a broad match of the term “gym shirt” will automatically display your ad for those queries – in addition to a number of other related entries that you would never think of on your own, like “shirt for working out”.
A phrase match will display your ad whenever your keyword is typed in exactly how it is listed in your campaign – regardless of what comes precedes or follows it. As long as your keyword phrase appears somewhere in that query, it’s possible that your ad will appear. Using the “gym shirt” example from above, this means that your ad could possibly appear when someone typed in “dog in gym shirt”, but absolutely would not if they typed in “gym shirts”.
And finally, an exact match is the most precise of all options. Selecting this option for a given keyword means that your ad will only display for that term when it is typed in exactly how you have it entered. The only way your ad would appear would be if someone typed in “gym shirt”. Nothing more, nothing less.
You can already begin to see the advantages of each different types of match, but it’s important to pay attention to the disadvantages they pose as well. One of the biggest mistakes I see people make is only utilizing the broad or phrase match options, thinking that this will give them the greatest chance of producing results because it allows your ad to show for just about any query related to your topic.
While this will certainly help to maximize exposure, using only these match types can cause you to rack up significant ad spending on terms that you can’t possibly hope to convert on. If you used either of these two match types for the term “gym shirt”, your ad could theoretically display when someone typed “Brad Pitt wearing a gym shirt” into Google. This search term displays little to no buyer intent, yet you would still be paying for your ad to show up each time it was searched. No bueno.
On the other hand, using only exact match keywords will drastically limit your ad’s visibility. You’ll lose out each time a variation of your keyword is entered, throttling your chances of making it successful.
So you’re basically saying I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place?
Yes – until you employ negative keywords.
Negative keywords are a search marketer’s best friend, because they allow you to reap the benefits of broad/phrase match without eating up your advertising budget. Their function is simple: enter a word you don’t want your ad to show up for, and Google will block your ad from displaying when that term is searched in conjunction with your broad and phrase match keywords.
It’s a brilliant idea, and one that you can use to really streamline your search campaigns. A client of mine sells health monitoring equipment, like digital scales, blood pressure monitors, thermometers, etc. She came to me complaining that her ad campaigns were generating ample sales, but that her cost per conversion was way too high to make them profitable.
I did a little digging into her bathroom scale campaign, and quickly identified a glaring problem: her advertisement was frequently being displayed for terms like “body fat scale”, “body fat measuring scale”, “best bathroom scale for determining body fat”, etc. Why was this a problem?
Her scale doesn’t measure body fat percentage!
Her high costs and abysmal conversion percentage started to make a lot more sense. Her ad would display to people looking for scales that assess body fat percentage, but when they clicked her ad and saw that her item did not offer that functionality, they quickly bounced from her page without making a purchase, eating up a significant amount of her budget in the process.
Adding the term “body fat” as a negative phrase match keyword to her campaigns. By taking that one simple step, we were able to guarantee that her ads no longer displayed to customers who were looking for a feature that her product didn’t offer. It was that easy. Now her ads were being displayed to people whose needs her product could meet, and unsurprisingly, her cost per conversion went way, way down after making this change.
If your Google advertising budget is routinely delivering less than desirable results, I highly suggest you take a look at your AdWords reports to see if you could benefit from changing your keyword match types or implementing negative keywords in your campaigns. You can save yourself a lot of hassle and money by poring over these reports in detail and making changes accordingly. If that seems like too tall of a task, contact me at any time to set up a consultation. You can’t afford to blow money on ad campaigns that don’t perform, and thanks to negative keywords, you don’t have to any longer.