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Google Adwords – improving keyword matches

Horse wearing shoesWhen you are managing your Google Adwords campaign, time constraints and a lack of understanding may lead you to attract too many of the wrong kinds of clicks. For example, if you sell horseshoes, you don’t want people to click on your advertisement when they are searching for “shoes” and you don’t want people just searching for “horses” to be clicking on your advertisement.

If you are paying for the phrase horse shoes, anyone searching for shoes may trigger your advert. There are two problems with this. First, there’s the possibility that you will then pay for a click from someone who has no interest in buying horseshoes. Second, and most likely, your advert will be so irrelevant and receive such a low click-through ratio that it will be devalued overall against competitors who have a better keyword package with a higher click-through ratio (because the CTR is what makes the advert valuable to Google).

Refine your keyword lists using the different matching options available. But first, let’s look at an example of some search statistics.

Google Adwords Keyword Tool - stats for horse shoes
This table shows the global volume of searches on Google for the phrase horse shoes. The high volume of searches for just “shoes” could negatively impact your advert if you are broad matching on the phrase.

The above table shows 68 million searches per month for just the word shoes. If you are bidding on the broad match phrase “horse shoes”, that’s 68 million potential times your ad could appear to the WRONG people. So, pick the right options, explained below.

Broad match
This is the default option. Bid on the keyword ‘horse shoes’ and your ad would be eligible to appear when a user’s search term contained either or both words (‘horse’ and ‘shoes’) in any order (eg, ‘running shoes’, ‘horse boxes’ or ‘shoes for sale’).

Broad match modifier
The new broad match modifier is an AdWords targeting feature that lets you create keywords which have greater reach than phrase match, and more control than broad match. You implement the modifier by putting a plus symbol (+) directly in front of one or more words in a broad match keyword. Each word preceded by a + must appear in the user’s search exactly or as a close variant. Depending on the language, close variants will include misspellings, singular/plural forms, abbreviations and acronyms, and stemmings (like “floor” and “flooring”). Synonyms (like “quick” and “fast”) and related searches (like “flowers” and “tulips”) are not considered close variants. The broad match modifier gives you more reach than phrase match because the broad match modifier allows for additional word(s) to be before, between, or after the keyword that’s been modified with the (+) sign.

Phrase match
If you enter your keyword in quotation marks, as in “horse shoes”, your ad would be eligible to appear when a user searches on the phrase horse shoes, with the words in that order. It can also appear for searches that contain other terms as long as it includes the exact phrase you’ve specified (eg ‘buy horse shoes’ or ‘horse shoes online’).

Exact match
Surround your keywords with brackets — such as [horse shoes] — to make your ad eligible when a user searches for the specific phrase ‘horse shoes’ and only that phrase in matching order.

Negative match
If your keyword is ‘horse shoes’ and you add the negative keyword ‘-used,’ your ad will not appear for any searches that contain the word ‘used’.


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