Time to Update Your AdWords Campaigns

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It’s official: Google’s new modified broad match keyword targeting feature has gone live.

If you’re running PPC campaigns, this is an exciting development – it promises to make your campaigns that much more relevant to users. How will it do this? To answer that question, we need to dig a little deeper into how AdWords works.

Google AdWords is based around keyword targeting: by identifying particular keyphrases, you can serve up your ads to parties who are most likely to buy.

Except it’s not quite that simple.

AdWords uses three different “match types” to allow you to better target keywords: Broad, Phrase, and Exact Match. Each of these match types will target different versions of the same keyword.

Broad Match – This is the “loosest” of the match types. Google will take the keyphrase you enter and find any and all related phrases. So if you enter American food, Google could decide to show your ad for the queries American dinner, American fast food, or even potentially New Yorker food. It also includes misspellings – in essence, Google gets to extrapolate to find the broadest match possible for your keywords.

Phrase Match – In this case, Google makes sure a particular keyword phrase appears in the query. So the phrase “American food” could result in your ad being shown for the queries cheap American food and American food network, but not American fast food.

Exact Match – The most specific of the match types, exact match means Google will look for the keyphrase you enter – and nothing else. So the keyword [American food] would only show up for the query American food.

Obviously, broad match can be very broad in its scope…which is why experienced PPC marketers using broad match also employ negative keywords, which allow them to exclude certain keywords from the query. If using broad match, the best practice has always been to use as many negative keywords as possible.

Which brings us to the new feature: with Google’s new broad match modifier, you can select individual words from a keyphrase and make them mandatory. For instance (back to our example above), I can now enter a broad match keyword of American +food, which will require the word ‘food’ to be part of the matched query. This example would match U.S. food and American foods, but not American sandwich.

Here’s a visual representation of all the match types:


Combining the new modified broad match with a large list of negative keywords, broad match becomes a much more powerful tool for anyone using PPC. I’m headed over to revise our clients’ campaigns right now – I’d recommend any of you using PPC do the same.

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