Did you ever notice that every time you have first hand knowledge of anything written about in the press it’s clear that the largely or completely misrepresent the facts or misunderstand the issue?
Today the venerable Wall Street Journal wrote an article about session-based broad match and manage to entirely miss what should be the core point of the article.
Session-based broad match is an AdWords ‘feature’ that considers the past search queries of any users when deciding which ads to serve for them. So if someone does a search for ‘rental palace in Monaco’ and then does a search for ‘cheap dog toothbrush’ Google may decide to show an add your ran against the keyword ‘luxury Monaco rentals’ in reply to their toothbrush query.
The theory, which is reasonable, is that Google knows that user was very recently interested in those rentals. Why not show them the ad a few minutes later? That’s still relevant.
Missing The Point
In The Journal article they find advertisers who are not happy about paying for clicks unrelated to the users current query. They also find folks (like PPC RockStar himself David Szetela) who don’t mind and have had good experiences with the feature.
They then ramble on and back and forth about if what Google is doing is cool or uncool.
The 500lb gorilla never makes an appearance.
Why isn’t ‘Session-based Broad Match’ a user controlled option?
The article doesn’t even introduce the idea that the ‘solution’ to the grand question of ‘is it good’ or ‘should people pay for it’ is ‘let them decide’.
Perhaps in the Murdock tradition the WSJ now operates with the goal of only exploiting problems and not wasting any breadth (or ink) on solving them.
Make It An Option
At minimum Session-Based Broad Match should be an opt-in campaign-level feature. Or better yet there should be an option to bid differently for session-based impressions.
The problem isn’t the feature. The problem is that as an AdWords advertiser you don’t get to choose whether or not you use it. Google decides to show your ad and bill you for the click in a way most people didn’t intend, don’t understand, and may have valid opinions or business reasons to want or not want.
Bundling session-based broad match without offering any control reduces advertiser control and transparency – session based clicks are reported as such in one report but are generally hard to detect so many don’t know when they’ve happened.
In my experience the vast majority of advertisers are surprised when they first hear this ‘feature’ even exists. Few know they they’re paying for it, most likely in very small amounts but on a regular basis. That’s no way to treat your customers.
AdWords added many great and complex features this past year, and extended advertiser control with things like Modified Broad Match. They have the resources and capability to make Session-Based Broad Match an option.
And they should.
In the comments to the previous post on Modified Broad Match, Helena Papirnikova asked an interesting question regarding the role of match type in quality score.
This is an issue that has been clouded in confusion for some time, and I thought worth more discussion than just a comment reply. So here goes…
Match Type / Quality Scores Rumors
Many say that using more exact match within your campaigns is a way to boost quality scores. Others point out that match type has no impact at all on quality score.
It turns out that the truth is somewhere in between. Quality score is only calculated when the search query is identical to the keyword. A broad match keyword like ‘dog food’ is matched to many different search queries – sometimes it’s matched to ‘dog food’ and sometimes to ‘cheap dog food’ and other times to ‘puppy chow on sale in Kansas City’.
But quality score is only calculated in those instances where the query is ‘dog food’. For all other queries, the quality score that was calculated when the query was ‘dog food’ is used.
Suppose you have a text ad that promotes low prices and free shipping. When the query ‘cheap dog food’ is matched to your ‘dog food’ broad match keyword, you actually get higher click-through-rates then you do when the query is simply ‘dog food’. But since the query ‘cheap dog food’ isn’t identical to the keyword ‘dog food’, a quality score is not calculated using this higher CTR. Instead, the quality score calculated based on the lower ‘dog food’ queries is applied.
The result is that your ad will appear less frequently, in lower positions, and at a higher CPC when the query is ‘cheap dog food’ and the keyword is ‘dog food’ then it would if you were buying the keyword ‘cheap dog food’ in either broad or phrase match type.
Match Type / Quality Score Facts
- Match type plays a role in determining which queries will be matched to which keywords
- Quality score is only calculated when the query is identical to the keyword, regardless of the keyword match type.
- The match type of a keyword is not considered and has no effect on the calculation of quality score for any keyword.
- When the search query is identical to the keyword, a quality score is calculated and applied. When a search query is not identical to the keyword (but matched anyway) the keyword will use a quality score that was calculated based on the performance of earlier searches where the query was identical to the keyword.
- If the same keyword appears in an account using different match types each should earn a nearly identical quality score. (Note: Minor differences in quality score may occur due to differences in ad copy and target URLs and the geography of searchers.)
So more exact match does not improve quality score – at all. The match type you set for any keyword is irrelevant. What matters is the keywords you choose to include in your account.
The Secret To Better Quality Scores
When you add a keyword to your account and use a broad or phrase match type, you attract queries that are related or similar to your keyword, but quality score is not calculated for these queries. When the CTR of those queries is lower than that of the identical query, you get an undeserved boost. When the CTR of those queries is higher than that of the identical query, you pay a quality score price.
The logic behind the suggestion to use more exact match is probably sound, but it suggests the wrong way to achieve the objective. You don’t need more exact match keywords, you need more keywords that are identical to the search queries that perform well (or occur frequently) in your account.
This shows the importance of intelligent keyword expansion. The match types of your keywords should be set to whatever is appropriate for each keyword – see our ‘Match Type Keyword Trap’ and ‘Modified Broad Match’ posts for more details on effectively applying match types.
Broad match keywords, particularly those which are generic or broad terminology terms, will tend to get lower CTRs on the queries that are identical to them and higher CTRs for the longer and more precise phrases to which they’ll match. Broad match helps you find more searchers but it does so inefficiently from a quality score perspective.
It’s critical to ‘query mine’ the keywords in your account (as discussed in this blog post) to find valuable search queries and turn them into new keywords. THIS is how you improve quality score, and increase both search volume and impression share while increasing ROI. (BTW, the Keyword Zoom tool in ClickEquations is the best way in the world to get this done quickly and easily.)
Negatives Don’t Matter Either
This is probably a good place to correct another common rumor. Adding negative keywords doesn’t directly impact quality score either. The reason is the same. When negatives filter out queries that weren’t identical to the purchased keyword, it has no effect because quality score was never calculated for those queries anyway.
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t add all appropriate negatives – just that doing so won’t improve your quality score on specific keywords.
There is an indirect benefit, however. Adding negatives in theory will improve your CTRs overall (by not showing ads to people who probably shouldn’t be interested in them) and these improved CTRs may be used in the way CTR is considered for account history, display URL, and specific geographies – each of which is applied in the overall quality score calculation.
Why It Works This Way
The relationship between match types, keywords, search queries, and quality score is a little confusing. Why does it work this way? Why doesn’t AdWords just calculate quality score for every query?
I can only speculate. I seems like if we earned quality scores based on the performance of all the crazy search queries that broad and even phrase is sometimes matched to then we’d be less in control of our own accounts than with the current method of only judging our quality when people are searching for exactly what we’re advertising (on a keyword level).
I also believe that broadly quality score is a tool Google uses to get advertisers to do the right thing. Expanding keyword purchases based on queries is the right thing to do – it improves the account in every way and would be a best practice even if quality score didn’t exist. Yet I expect that if fully understood the benefits to quality score will motivate many people who wouldn’t otherwise make the effort frequently enough.
Quality score is a rating of how effective you are at advertising on a specific keyword. By only making that judgment based on the results of people who searched with a query that was identical to your keyword AdWords is able to fully and fairly score your performance.
When you look at the quality score of any keyword in your account, remember that this is the quality score earned by the identical queries. For broad match and phrase match keywords, there are likely queries getting this quality score – and the resulting Ad Rank and CPC – that could do better if you turn those queries into their own new keywords. Adding an exact match version of an existing keyword won’t help. Making productive queries into independent keywords can help a lot.
UPDATE: Good discussion in comments below, and I’ve heard from Google that ‘something’ is not correct above – will update here as soon as I know what. Happy to get corrected share the facts!
Is it just me or is everything getting MUCH more complicated?
Match types have been a pretty basic element in paid search of late. Other than the seemingly relentless creeping range of broad match over the last few years, and the occasional confusion over session-based broad match, there wasn’t much there to think about. Well as someone once said, things have changed.
The change agent is Modified Broad Match, which made it’s debut a few months ago. It’s a rather simple sounding change, but it has huge implications for paid search advertisers. But to get the full benefit requires both an effort to understand and grok it, and even more effort to implement it.
To learn the basics and a bit more, check out the AdWords help files – these are very complete and worth reading if you’re not entirely familiar with it, before reading the rest of this post.
What I think happened is that Google read our ‘Include Match Type’ post from April 2009, and went to work on implementing it. Their solution takes that idea and improves & expands it – good job guys. And thanks for listening!
What I find interesting about the implementation is the power and flexibility it provides. There are three choices you have for every word in the keywords/phrases you bid on:
- Close Match (+). Adding the plus sign makes that word required, but not as an exact match as you might suspect, but as something new – a nearly exact. Google calls this a ‘close match’ and describes it thusly:
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.
- Expanded Broad. Leaving a word without a plus leaves it matching as it has in recent years, a type that is known as Expanded Broad. This was a change from the way Broad Match performed before 2007 or so. Before 2007 Broad Match was a lot closer to what is now called Close Match and only matched a small range of similar terms. But in 2007 Broad Match became (without a name change) Expanded Broad Match and as we all know, the breadth and width of ‘related’ got wider and wider over time, sometimes seamingly varying at different times in the month or quarter.
- Both Close and Expanded. Running two versions of a keyword/phrase, with the (+) in front of some words sometimes and not in front others, delivers different results and contrasts the two matching patterns.
The power of Modified Broad Match (MBM) comes not only from the way you modify one of your keywords/phrases, but in the combination of new keywords/phrases that you create.
For example, we buy the keyword ‘paid search marketing software’. Historically we bought it in broad, phrase, and exact using the ideas explained in our Match Type Keyword Trap post. With MBM a set of new options become available that increase our control – allowing us to save money, increase quality score, improve impression share, and drive up ROI.
To do this let’s look at how we want to think about each word in that phrase.
- Paid is a required word, we only want to buy it Close Match, so it always gets a (+)
- Search is an optional but preferred word, we buy it normal Broad Match and Close Match
- Marketing is an optional word, we buy it only normal Broad Match
- Software is an optional but preferred word, we buy it normal Broad Match and Close Match
So what was formerly one broad match phrase is now four keywords:
+paid +search marketing software
+paid search marketing software
+paid +search marketing +software
+paid search marketing +software
All keywords are magnets that attract some range of search queries. The addition of MBM gives us more control over the magnetism, and therefore more control over which queries we match. We have four goals in the process:
- Match those queries we want
- Avoid those queries we don’t
- Control which keyword matches to which search query
- Capture the data about the process in a way we can use to improve over time
By mixing the required, preferred, and optional words in the phrases we go along way to accomplishing these goals.
Another benefit, pointed out in the RimmKaufman post, is that it greatly helps you control which of your keywords matches to a specific query. Often one query could concievably match to many of your broad keywords. By narrowing and targeting the magnetism of your keywords you limit the number of words competing for some queries, and so that hopefully the one with the more targeted ad copy and landing gets the query instead of the one that gives AdWords the highest CPC.
Hopefully it’s clear that Modified Broad Match isn’t a small change. It’s a very powerful new tool. But not necessarily one that is easy to fully implement.
The ideal work list is something like this:
- Go through every broad match keyword in your account and determine the role of each word in each phrase as either required, preferred, or optional.
- Create all the resulting combinations of new MBM keywords
- Add these to your account
- Review existing negative lists, inspect recent queries to add more negatives
- Watch search queries, quality scores, positions, CPCs, and bids to track impact of these new MBM keywords.
- Based on queries and other metrics, split keywords into more descrete ad groups when sufficient data suggests this would enable better query to ad copy alignment.
As with most other PPC tactics, the best and most realistic method to the scale of the task is to start with your most active keywords (by impressions, clicks, cost or revenue) and at least get those revised. At some point down the tail it probably isn’t worth the effort, and time just won’t be available. But for those huge spend or hugh impression keywords this effort should be mandatory.
Great Resources and Information
While preparing this post I came across a killer Excel spreadsheet that can automate the creating of the required combinations of MBM keywords. It was created by Chad Summerhill and with it you enter the words in your keyword/phrase, specify if each is required, preferred, or optional, and then in presents the formatted MBM keywords that you can paste into your account.
So does all of this work? Is it worth the effort? Luckily for us, Alan Mitchell has done some really great testing and documented his results.
As you can see here he found exactly what we’d hope – better click through rates, leading to better quality scores leading to lower CPCs.
Modified Broad Match works. But it’s work.
PS: Since this blog so often gives Google a hard time for areas where we don’t get as much control as we’d like, I do want to very specifically thank them for this powerful new control over our keywords.
Match types are deceptively simple controls. They’re relatively easy to understand, and almost everyone takes advantage of their basic capabilities.
But the difference between using match types and mastering match types is enormous.
Match types can be used like a machete – to clear large areas while making sure that nothing is missed, or they can be used like a scalpel – to target very specific queries while leaving adjacent queries undisturbed. The best paid search managers use them as both.
Match Types Decide Who’s In Control
The great simplification of a keyword-biased view of paid search is the suggestion that adding keywords to your account determines the people who will see your ads and be attracted to your landing page or website. Keywords determine who might see your ads, but match types decide who will see them.
Keywords without match types are indescriminate. Keywords without match types give the search engines free rein to show your ads, and attract clicks, from just about anyone they want to.
This is because by default keywords are set on broad match. Broad match means that you want the search engine to match your keyword to any related search query. Deciding what is ‘related’ is the job of the search engine, and from a pure semantic and contextual point of view, they do a remarkable job of it.
But for broad really is broad. Most keywords have a massive range of related search queries. And without suggesting malice, the engines have a vested interest in making that range as wide as possible.
As advertisers, we have exactly the opposite goal. We want to show our ads, and pay for clicks, from the narrowest possible range of related queries – just wide enough to include the folks who actually want what we’re offering. If nobody else saw our ads it would be fine with us.
Therein lies the rub. Broad match keywords are huge nets designed to catch everything in their targeted areas – the good, the bad, and the ugly. So they’ll usually deliver some great visitors mixed in with a lot of not-great visitors.
The non-broad match types, by contrast, create focus. When used properly, they exclude the unrelated and inappropriate.
The bottom line is this: broad match puts the engine in control. Phrase and exact match take control back.
Three Rules of Broad Match
Broad match keywords serve an important purpose, and you should use them. But I’d suggest three rules:
- Use broad match keywords as much as you have to, and no more.
- Use any specific broad match keyword only as long as you have to and no longer.
- While using any broad match keyword, try to continually drive down its volume (and probably its cost)
Broad match keywords exist because as a starting point it’s hard to know which search queries people use to express a specific intent. Without this knowledge you have no way of directing search ads towards those people. Broad match keywords give you a way of advertising to them.
The cost is imprecision and therefore waste. Sometimes the good will outweigh the bad, othertimes it won’t. But in either case, the use of broad match should be a starting point and nothing more.
Once you see the search queries that broad match attracts, it’s time to start query-mining:
- Add negative keywords
- Add new phrase and exact match keywords
- Adjust bids on all three match types to reflect their relative importance and returns
Every step along the way, you catch less queries by accident and more queries on purpose.
The Match Type Keyword Trap
Some time ago I wrote a lot about match type and a strategy for using multiple match types together for the same keywords. If you haven’t yet, get our Match Type Keyword Trap whitepaper for details of how to use match types properly.
This work is perhaps the most important campaign optimization a paid search manager can perform. The benefits are extensive:
- You stop paying for bad queries
- You catch a higher percentage of the good queries
- You can pay (bid) appropriately for both the good ones (with high exact match bids) and the bad ones (with lower broad match bids.
- Your new keywords will raise impression share
- Your new keywords will increase impression and click volume
- Your new keywords should earn better quality scores (long story that, we’ll get to it in an upcoming post) which drives position up, cost down, and therefore profits higher.
Alternatively, you can just leave those broad matches alone and hope the people doing unrelated queries just stop searching…
The proper use of match types is so important that all paid search managers should measure use and progress over time. Keep track of the percentage of revenue coming from broad match in each of your campaigns. If it’s over 50%, chances are you have a lot of work to do. The right number varies by business but around 30% is probably a good general target.
In ClickEquations you can use Best Practices to warn you when a campaign has over a specified percentage of broad match revenue. You can also see cost, revenue, and clicks by match type using the Match Type analysis report in ClickEquations Analyst.
Broad match is a powerful tool, but like many others needs to be used wisely and not over-used.
For too long in PPC the assumption was that keywords should be on broad match unless it was perfectly clear or proven that they or versions of them should be promoted or duplicated to the more specific match types. It’s time to start turning that thinking around, and require keywords to prove that they should be on broad match instead.
What Do You Think?
This blog post is part of a series extending and amplifying the ideas in our free ebook ’21 Secret Truths of High-Resolution PPC’.
What they’re saying: “Everything you know about AdWords is the basics Google wanted you to know. Just enough to get you hooked. But what if there was fundamental secrets that they neglected to share? Would you want to know them? Now you can! 21 Secrets Truths is what you must read, no, act on, before your competitors do.”
- Bryan Eisenberg Conversion Expert and New York Times Best-Selling Author ’.
Sunday morning seems a good time to practice what we preach.
Earlier today I was poking around in our own AdWords account, doing a little prep work for my Tuesday presentation on Quality Score. I created some new ClickEquations Analyst templates that analyze the CTR components of Quality Score – we’ll talk about these sometime in the future.
One of the elements I was looking at was the CTR of search campaigns. In particular, the idea struck me to compare the impression volume with the CTR to try and identify the weighted impact on Quality Score of letting low performing CTR keywords run.
In the course of my examination, it became clear that two of our own campaigns have the devilish combination of low Quality Score, low CTR, and high impression counts. Time for a little further investigation.
One of the things I found was that an experimental ad group built to play around with keywords concerning Match Type was doing particularly poorly. More specifically the broad match keyword ‘match type’ had huge impression count and a horrible click-through-rate.
That’s when I found it.
Look at this search query report for the keyword ‘match type’.
Google is doing a pretty poor job of matching the keyword ‘match type’. And we’ve been paying for it, click by click.
The assumption that people typing ‘math’ actually meant ‘match’ is particularly strange. Or do they think I meant to buy the word ‘Math Type’ and they’re correcting my typo? And why are the people who are doing those searches clicking on this text ad anyway? –>
In any case, the only search query worth having from the whole list is ‘match type’ itself.
Normally that would have been caught in the exact match version, but since this was an experiment I had been running the broad match all alone. Clearly that was a mistake. Given these results, I added the exact match version, and paused the broad match.
And the word ‘match type’ is not a great example of the effective execution or use of broad match in AdWords.
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This is a feature of the core ClickEquations reporting screen, and shows all queries from all search engines by keyword and match type.
There is a related ClickEquations Analyst Report that makes use of this data in a very powerful way.
It’s called the ‘Unique Queries Per Keyword’ report. It counts the number of different queries that the search engines are matching to each of your keywords, and presents them sorted by the number of queries.
On the list above for example, the keyword ‘dog remedy’ in Broad Match was matched by Google to 528 different search queries. Yowsa!
If a keyword is being matched to over 500 different search queries, two things are almost certainly true:
- There are some pretty unrelated search queries in there that have to be avoided with negatives
- There are dozens of new phrase and exact match keywords that need to be added to better attack these queries.
This of course is how we generally use the search query report, but with this prioritized view we can quickly find the keywords where keyword negatives and expansion is critically needed. Every negative we add saves us money. Every keyword we add in this way has multiple benefit, especially those using phrase and exact match types. Each can be expected to:
- Increase our Impression Share by expand the pool of queries to which we’ll be matched
- Improve Quality Score by by increasing relevance and increasing number of times query exactly matches keyword
- Enables us to bid to the value of each keyword rather than once for whole broad group
- If we do get increased Quality Score on specific Keywords, our CPC could/should be lower on those queries.
In summary, there are lots of advantages to a more detailed keyword build-out when it’s driven by actual queries not random speculation.
Finding Keyword Expansion Ideas
To find out which keywords we need to add to both our keyword and negative lists, we can jump back into the ClickEquations application and find all the queries that Google matched to ‘dog remedy’.
Likely negatives would be words for illnesses that we don’t sell product for – dysplasia, pancreatitis, rabies, etc. Areas for expansion are those which come up a lot – mange, itching, and vomiting seam like winners in this area – to name a few.
Highly specific words clarify intent – which gets a lot of press in the ‘long tail’ discussion of keyword expansion. The same is true on the negative side: highly specific words can verify incompatible intent.
Bulk Importing Keywords and Negatives
Since it looks like we may want to add a lot of new keywords and negatives, we can jump back into ClickEquations Analyst and pull the full query list into Excel, make a few edits, and then bulk import that edited list back into ClickEquations.
Squash The Broad Match
Our Match Type Keyword Trap white paper discusses how you should use match types to take control of your search queries back from the search engines.
Using the capabilities described above to quickly find the keywords where broad match (and to a lessor degree phrase match) is running out-of-control is a great first step towards taking back control, saving yourself some money, and expanding the reach of your account.
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It’s time for a new Match Type.
Our friends Broad and Phrase and Exact just aren’t getting the job done anymore.
It’s not really their fault – the way people search has changed and they just can’t keep up. Or more accurately, we can’t keep up.
Here’s the problem. People are using more and more words in search queries. This has been the trend for a long time, and new data from Hitwise shows the greatest growth in search queries with SEVEN OR MORE words!
Changing number of keywords per search query
The growth and diversification of search queries do not work to search advertisers benefit. As queries get longer it becomes much harder to capture them via exact or even phrase match keywords, leaving only for possible acquisition by broad match.
And we don’t like broad match very much.
- Broad match is imprecise. It attracts both highly relevant and highly irrelevant search queries.
- Broad match wastes money. We pay for all the clicks that come from those irrelevant search queries.
- Broad match lowers quality score. We get lower click through rates when our keywords are matched to irrelevant queries – many of which see that our ad isn’t for them and do not click.
- Broad match lowers ad position. Google has clearly stated that exacts match before phrase which match before broads. Your broad match ad will only rank highly if few people bid on that query in phrase or exact form.
The Include Match Type
I’m sure there are a number of ways to solve this problem.
My suggestion would be the ‘Include’ Match Type. It would enable advertisers to specify a group of words, and then match to any search query which included those words, in any order. This attempts to correct a weakness of the current Phrase Match Type.
If I want to bid on lots of any search queries about dog food, and specifically target ‘dog food discounts’, today I might have to buy the following on phrase match:
- dog food discounts
- discount dog food
And of course I’d but ‘dog food discount’ on phrase and exact match too. (see Match Type Keyword Trap for the rational behind that.).
But a search query report (such as the excellent one provided by ClickEquations) would show me many long queries out there that this phrase match won’t cover, including:
- get dog food at discount
- discounts on dog food for puppies
- dog food los angeles discounts
- discount on purina brand dog food
A ClickEquations Search Query Report showing how queries are matched to keywords
You get the idea. What I really want to do is buy ‘dog food discount’ in the new ‘Include’ match type, so all of the above can be purchased and matched without having to fall to broad match.
And of course I’d add a lot of appropriate negatives to that ad group, tuning it over time by keeping a close eye on the search queries that are matched.
Times are changing Google. We’re spending money every day. Please give us better targeting tools!
What do you think? Any other good ideas for new Match Types you’d like to see?
A recent interview I did with Chris Crum of WebProNews is now live. It’s all about Match Types, give it a look.
For more on how Match Types work and the best way to take advantage of them (including our nearly-famous ‘Match Type Keyword Trap’), download out our Match Type White Paper from the new ClickEquations Learning Center.
When you finally get a paid search tool (like ClickEquations) that allows you to see each search query that people typed matched directly to the keyword you bid on and the match type you set, you’ll soon notice that all of your Exact match keywords aren’t entirely exact.
Doing a little research and experimentation while preparing for SMX, I just came across a great example of one reason why this is true.
Look at the ads to the right. Which one is not like the others?
One of our clients sells products to help Fido keep himself together, and I did some searches on that topic. Then a search for ‘Premium dog collars’. That’s the search which delivered the ads you see.
Google however remembered that not long ago I was concerned with the other end of the animal, and slipped the Poop ad into the mix.
Had I clicked it, my search query of ‘Premium dog collars’ would show up, correctly, for the exact match keyword/phrase ‘dogs eating poop’.
Just so you know.
Heading to SMX in San Jose? Come see the new version of ClickEquations at our booth, or catch me in the Quality Score or Text-Ad Testing workshops.
If you’re going to buy the same keyword multiple times with different match types assigned, how should you organize them?
Buying the same keyword more than once, with different match type settings, is an idea we like, as explained in our Match Type Keyword Trap series.
But this practice begs the question – should the same keyword appear more than once in the same ad group, or should you split them into different ad groups?
Separate But Equal
In terms of the effectiveness of the keywords at their match types it doesn’t matter. Google will match them appropriately no matter where you put them.
But I favor splitting them into separate ad groups for five reasons.
- It’s easier to match search queries to text ads. This is the name of the game, and each keyword will attract different queries based on the different match types. So can you write better ads knowing that some of these queries will be exact, some will use the phrase, and some will be all over the broad-match-place? Probably.
- Reporting is easier to digest (pt 1). If you’re a search query freak like me, and have a great tool like ClickEquations that shows you nearly every search query, it’s easier to scan the queries in an ad group to see if they’re all appropriate and uniform in content and nearly so in performance if they’re segregated by match type.
- Reporting is easier to digest (pt 2). The roll-up data and averages of any ad group are only as worthwhile as the consistency of the performance of the keywords that make it up. Diverse keyword groups produce statisics-of-questionable-value (SOQV as it’s known in the trade). Broad match keywords perform very differently than exact match keywords and I don’t find it useful to see the average CTRs or CPCs or CPAs of them rolled-up together.
- Quality Score should be better. By the letter of the law on QS, we want high-as-possible CTRs and tight query-keyword-adgroup-landing page relevance. Both should be slightly better with segregated ad groups – although as with all quality score details, there is no way to prove this!
- Reporting is easier to produce. Google does not provide a macro to automatically tell you the match type of a keyword as part of the destination URL. This is one of the few areas where Yahoo and MSN have something Adwords does not (intentionally on the part of Google we can be sure). Therefore if you want to track, measure, report on the performance differeces of your various match types, it’s a lot easier if they’re in separate ad groups. There are other solutions, but this one is the simplest and most robust.
This is not a big deal. For many people, or even in certain situations within a campaign, repeating the keyword in a single ad group makes sense. But if and when possible, I split them out.
Note: This post was inspired by comments made on a recent PPC Rockstars with David @Szetela Podcast. These shows have become a regular part of my commute, and I recommend them highly! (Even the occasional ones when I’m an guest.)