Secrets to Paid Search Success Revealed, Part 2

Proper use of keyword match types is an extremely powerful lever in any paid search campaign. You can save tens of thousands of dollars in a single month (without losing volume) by applying match type strategies that show bias for exact match.

A surprisingly large percentage of paid search campaigns rely heavily on broad match. It’s not uncommon that we analyze a campaign where the match type composition is 75 percent or more broad match. This almost always means that the advertiser is paying too much for the click; however, it presents a great opportunity to quickly create mass-scale efficiency.

Match Type

Run Exact, Phrase and Broad Match Simultaneously

There are two key factors to successfully running these match types simultaneously:

  • Match type specific ad groups: Yes, it’s more work on the front end, but it always pays off. Let’s say you have an ad group for “Cheap Vacation Deals” that contains 30 related keywords. Take this ad group and segment it into three separate ad groups — one for each match type. This is going to provide a lot of scalability while setting up the foundation for efficient match type bidding.
  • Tiered bidding: You’ve now set yourself up to execute a bidding strategy that will allow you to capture a less expensive exact match click whenever possible. Set your exact match bid as your highest bid. Then set your phrase match at 15 percent below exact, and broad match at 10 percent below phrase. By doing this, the engine should serve your exact match ad whenever possible, which will almost always deliver a lower CPC. Doing so across an entire account can create enormous efficiencies.

Here’s a real word example of the waste that can be created when the above mentioned approach is not applied. We recently analyzed an account that had the keyword “self storage” set as broad and exact match within the same ad group. The bids were evenly set and the broad match version was being served over 95 percent of the time.

The problem: the CPC was $0.50 higher that its exact match counterpart and being served two positions lower on average. I don’t like paying more for less. We quickly broke these out into dedicated ad groups and saw the less expensive exact match version serving more frequently and at the higher average position.

The exact match ad groups are going to be efficient machines in your account, but they might not always produce the volume you’re looking for. Your phrase and broad match ad groups will help backfill your account and serve as a great resource for identifying new keywords.

Harvest Broad Match Ad Groups Frequently

Google AdWords provides a rich tool that will help you expand keywords within your account. By selecting a Campaign, then AdGroup, you’ll be presented with the keywords that are associated with that AdGroup.

Select the See search terms… dropdown and select All. Doing this within your phrase and broad match ad groups will uncover specific keywords that triggered your ad, many of which you may not have set as exact match yet. It’s a fantastic discovery tool.

Taking these keywords and adding them as an exact match will help ensure that the next time that keyword is used in a query, your more efficient exact match ad will serve.

Harvest this list every two weeks and migrate newly found keyword variations into your account as exact match. Doing so will create ongoing momentum for efficiency.

AdWords’ See search terms… list will provide equally valuable insight into unintentional keywords that your ads might be serving on.

Let’s go back to our “self storage” example. The See search terms… feature showed that the search term “storage rack” was triggering this advertiser’s “self storage” ad.

These useless impressions drove his CTR down, decreasing quality score and negatively impacting the CPC. Placing irrelevant search terms into AdWords’ negative keywords list will prevent this waste.

Negative phrase matching generally suppresses irrelevant impressions while proving just enough flexibility for new search terms to crop up that may not yet exist in the account. Just as you should routinely be adding search terms to your account, you should be omitting irrelevant terms.

A few other things to keep in mind:

  • Plurals and misspellings: Remember that the engines consider vacation rental, vacation rentals, and vacation rntals (misspelled) as three distinct search terms. Include the singular, plural, and misspell in your campaigns. Diversify the match types in for the singular and plural, while sticking with exact match on the misspelling.
  • Geo-modified: With Google Instant auto-suggesting geographically focused search terms more frequently, it’s critical that if you have a geo-centric approach (furniture store in Atlanta, for example) that you’re concatenating your head terms with geo modifiers, and running these on exact match. Relying on a broad match pick-up of furniture store will drive up your costs.

My colleague Kriag Guffey summed it up best when saying “the most effective way to control costs and drive efficiency is through Exact. The looser the match type, the more control you give up.” Cheers to that.

Stay tuned for part three of this series where we’ll explore the myths and realities of bidding.

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