Broad match: What is it good for?
Columnist Brett Middleton describes how to use broad match in paid search campaigns as a keyword research tool.
Walk into any bar (or type your way into any digital space) where PPC people are gathered, and you will find a thousand different methods for using the different match types available when adding keywords into your campaigns.
None of them are inherently wrong — ultimately, it’s the results that matter. But is there a method that can make effective use of broad match keywords without ruining our chances at a healthy cost per conversion? That’s the subject this column will cover, while also delving heavily into the area of keyword research, so get ready to have some fun.
Broad match = hunter-gatherer
We often use broad match keywords when starting paid search campaigns from scratch, as we may not intuitively know more specific searches that people might be using. Other times, we encounter a large volume of broad match keywords when we take over management on an AdWords account set up only using broad match (It happens!).
A typical next step in either of these situations would be to duplicate these keywords into exact and phrase match, then monitor them for new keyword opportunities. We might even supplement this with research from a tool like SpyFu to pull competitor keywords.
The weakness of broad match keywords is that they can be triggered by literally anything even remotely close to the keyword; when you added the broad match keyword “hammock” to your newest campaign, you probably didn’t intend for the search “banana hammock” to trigger it and show your ad. These are the sorts of hijinks that can happen when running a PPC campaign.
By now, most AdWords users know that the Search Terms report gathers search information and allows us to add keywords, or add negative keywords, from this. But using the Search Terms report, we can turn the weakness of broad match keywords into the best keyword research tool available: actual search data.
Broad match keywords are the new keyword research
Struggling with the keyword research process on a new campaign? Just starting advertising for a new client who’s never done AdWords, and the keyword planner isn’t being useful? Try building AdWords campaigns composed of broad match keywords, with very minimal bids (targeting 5 to 9 ad position, or even lower), and use the Search Terms report to add more specific keywords that come directly from the users.
Using the Search Terms report in this manner turns your keywords into a research tool, giving you real data to use when adding long-tail searches as exact match or phrase match keywords. Doing this will effectively let you build very specific and detailed campaigns at very little cost.
Beyond using broad match keywords with minimal bidding, how can we work this thought process into our ongoing campaigns side-by-side with exact and phrase match keywords? This can be tough. Often, we see some really great, consistent results from broad match keywords that were triggered by highly relevant searches, but we must consider the wide variance possible with these searches and adapt our bid strategies accordingly.
When campaigns are running, we cannot simply set bids at $0.10 for our broad match keywords anymore and look for great keywords. Instead, consider the following.
- Broad match: Bid for position 3 or 4.
- Phrase match: Semi-aggressive, bid for positions 1 to 3, depending on cost.
- Exact match: Aggressive, bid for top of page.
In the above example, which shows variations of the keyword “hammock,” we would also be sure to include [banana hammock] as a negative keyword. We might use this match type-based bid strategy because the variance of a broad match keyword makes the searches that trigger it entirely too unpredictable, but we still need to be in a position to convert searchers with our broad match keywords in the hopes of identifying the searches that we must be going after.
These search terms that convert from broad match should be added as phrase/exact match with higher bids and become the focal point of our campaigns; we know with a better degree of certainty what people are searching for here and should therefore be willing to pay more for their clicks.
Following this process should eliminate the potential trial-and-error process you run into with adding untested keywords into campaigns and adjusting bids based on performance without a strategic base. Consider this as a base to start revising your campaigns; from here, let the data tell you where to go.
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