5 Steps To Take Before You Launch Broad Match Keywords

Broad match keywords can help you reach a large number of people, even if they don’t use the exact keyword you want. Track conversions, use a “target” bid method, make sure your top keywords have high impression shares, and examine n-gram data.

With over 3.5 billion daily searches every single day, it’s tough to catch the keywords that might be good for your PPC ads.

Here’s the tricky part: Google recently changed the rules on how ads match searches. This means some searches won’t show your ad anymore, even if they’re relevant. Now, marketers are seeing a renewed emphasis from Google on using broad match keywords across campaigns. 

While broad match offers a wider audience reach, it’s important to understand the key differences from other match types and how these can impact your campaign performance. Let’s delve deeper into these distinctions to determine when a broad match might be a strategic choice, and when other options might be better suited.

Search History

Understanding a user’s recent searches can be a powerful tool for advertisers. 

By tailoring ads to their browsing history, you can connect with them at a relevant point in their buying journey. But how well this works depends on the sales cycle length.

  • Longer Sales Cycles: For complex purchases with extended research phases (e.g., cars, homes), users might conduct multiple searches over time, gathering information and comparing options. In this scenario, access to their search history allows you to target them with relevant ads at different stages of their decision-making process, maximising the impact of your campaigns.

  • Shorter Sales Cycles: On the other hand, for products with quick turnaround times (e.g., groceries, everyday items), users often complete their purchase within a single browsing session. Here, targeting based on just their most recent search might mean showing them ads for a product they’ve already bought, leading to wasted ad spend.

By considering the sales cycle length of your product or service, you can determine if leveraging search history is an advantage or a disadvantage for your advertising strategy.

Landing Page 

Broad match keywords use your landing page content to expand the range of search terms that trigger your ads. 

This can be a double-edged sword:

  • Advantage: Increased Relevance: A well-crafted landing page that covers various aspects of your product or service can attract users searching for related terms, even if they don’t perfectly match your keywords. Expand your reach and improve conversion rates.

  • Disadvantage: Loss of Control: Pages with short-term offers or extensive service lists can confuse Google’s matching algorithms. For instance, a fruit seller promotes a “summer fruit basket” when the user searches for “berries for delivery.” This mismatch between ad and landing page hurts user experience and campaign performance.

Here’s how to navigate this challenge:

  • Focused Landing Pages: Create separate landing pages for specific services or product categories. This ensures a clear connection between your ad, keyword, and landing page content.

  • Content Clarity: Use clear, concise language on your landing pages that accurately reflects the services or products offered.

  • Regular Reviews: Monitor search terms triggering your ads and adjust your landing pages or keywords as needed to maintain relevance and control.

By following these steps, you can unlock the power of broad match keywords while maintaining control over where your ads appear and the user experience they deliver.

Ad Group Context

Grouping related keywords in your ads can help Google understand what people are looking for. This lets them show your ads to people searching for things that fit your overall message, even if they don’t use the exact words you listed.

However, there are situations where this can backfire:

  • Unfocused Ad Groups: If your ad groups are a hodgepodge of unrelated keywords, Google can get mixed signals. This can happen if you follow the advice to collapse ad groups into a single Responsive Search Ad with a large keyword list. This approach often leads to poorly matched ads and landing pages, hindering campaign performance.

  • Specialised Niches: Broad match might struggle with highly technical products such as medical equipment or legal terms, niche keywords, industry jargon, buyer agent terms, or lists of numbers/product codes. Google might not understand these specific terms and match them to irrelevant searches.

  • B2B Targeting: For B2B advertisers aiming for a highly specific audience, broad matches can be unreliable. You might miss valuable impressions because Google casts too wide a net.

Finding the Right Balance

Here's how to find the right balance:

  • Focused Ad Groups: Organise your ad groups with tightly related keywords. This gives Google a clear picture of your target audience and search intent.

  • Keyword Research: Invest time in thorough keyword research to identify relevant search terms, including technical terms and industry jargon.

  • Negative Keywords: Use negative keywords proactively to prevent your ads from showing on irrelevant searches, especially for niche markets or products with specific codes.

By considering these points, you can determine if using other keywords within an ad group to understand user intent is an advantage or a disadvantage for your broad match strategy.

Impression Share

Impression share is a crucial metric to understand how often your ads appear compared to the opportunities they have. A low IS can indicate missed opportunities, while a very high IS might suggest you’re reaching a saturated audience. 

Let’s explore how IS impacts your broad match strategy:

  • Low Impression Share: This can occur due to low ad rank caused by factors other than Quality Score or insufficient budget.
    Here are some strategies:

    • Refine Keywords: Consider pausing low-performing keywords or switching broad match terms to phrase or exact match to focus your budget on high-intent searches.

    • Increase Bids (if budget allows): If your Quality Score is high, strategically raising bids can improve your ad rank and increase IS.

  • High Impression Share: This might suggest you’re reaching a broad audience, but not necessarily the most relevant one. Here’s what to do:

    • Expand Keywords: Add new keywords in relevant match types (phrase or broad) to reach a wider audience within your target market.
    • Negative Keywords: Utilise negative keywords to prevent irrelevant searches from triggering your ads.

Bid Strategy

Studies across numerous accounts show a general trend: exact match keywords tend to have higher CTRs and conversion rates compared to phrase match and broad match. However, broad match can still be valuable for reaching a wider audience, especially when combined with:

  • Proper Bid Strategy: Tailor your bids to the specific match type. Broad match keywords might require lower bids compared to exact match due to their inherent lower conversion rates.

  • Negative Keywords: Proactively exclude irrelevant searches to ensure your broad match terms reach the right audience.

Remember: IS is just one piece of the puzzle. Always consider CTR, conversion rates, and Quality Score to determine the effectiveness of your broad match strategy.

Broad Match Potential

While Google encourages using broad match keywords, it’s crucial to choose the right bid method to maximise their effectiveness. 

Here’s why:

  • The Feedback Loop: Broad match keywords rely on conversion data to learn and refine targeting. Without conversion tracking or manual bidding, Google lacks the information necessary to optimise your campaigns effectively.

  • Targeting Your Goals: Not all bid methods are created equal. Max conversions or max revenue strategies prioritise sheer volume, which can be wasteful with broad matches. They might spend your entire budget even if the gains in conversions or revenue are minimal.

  • Focus on Efficiency: Target CPA and Target ROAS prioritise efficiency and align your bids with your desired cost or return. This ensures a broad match reaches a wider audience while staying within your budget constraints.

Finding the Right Fit

  • Target CPA: Ideal for campaigns with a clear cost-per-acquisition target. Broad match can help you reach a wider audience while staying within your cost limitations. However, close monitoring of search terms and negative keywords is essential to prevent irrelevant clicks.

  • Target ROAS: Perfect for campaigns focused on maximising return on investment. Broad matches can expand your reach and potentially generate more sales, but again, managing search terms and negative keywords is crucial to maintain your desired ROAS.

Additional Considerations:

  • Budget Size: While max bid options might be acceptable for smaller budgets, they can be wasteful for larger ones with broad match.

  • Constant Refinement: Remember, broad match is an ongoing process. Regularly monitor search terms and use negative keywords to ensure your ads reach the most relevant audience.

By understanding the interplay between bid methods and broad match keywords, you can leverage this powerful tool to reach a wider audience while staying aligned with your campaign goals.

Search Terms

Effective search term management is essential for any campaign, but especially crucial for broad match keywords. 

Here’s why:

  • Constant Expansion: Broad match keywords can continuously match to new search terms. While this is an advantage for reaching a wider audience, it also increases the risk of irrelevant searches triggering your ads.

  • Relevance is Key: Regularly reviewing search terms ensures your ads are reaching users with genuine interest in your offerings. Irrelevant searches waste your budget and can hurt your campaign performance.

The Power of Negative Keywords

Negative keywords are your allies in search term management. By proactively adding negative keywords, you tell Google which search terms you don’t want your ads to show for. 

Here’s how to use them to your advantage:

  • Regular Monitoring: Schedule regular reviews of your search terms to identify irrelevant ones.

  • N-gram Analysis: This advanced technique analyses patterns within your search terms, helping you identify broader themes to target with negative keywords and potentially uncover opportunities for new ad groups.

Ensure your broad match campaigns reach the right audience for maximum effectiveness and minimum wasted spend.

Exceptions for Broad Match

While the previous sections outlined the potential drawbacks of broad match keywords, there are situations where they can be beneficial:

  • Limited Search Volume: For niche businesses or products with a small target audience, broad match can help capture a wider range of relevant searches that might not have sufficient volume for other match types. This can be especially helpful if you’re struggling to generate enough impressions.

  • Max Bidding with Limited Data: When you have a small customer base and limited conversion data, “max” bid types like “max conversions” might be your only option. In these cases, broad match can be a viable strategy to expand your reach, but close monitoring of search terms and negative keywords is crucial to avoid irrelevant clicks and budget waste.

A Word of Caution

Even when broad match seems like the only option, remember:

  • Regularly review search terms to ensure your ads are reaching the right audience. Negative keywords remain essential for preventing irrelevant searches from draining your budget.

  • While a successful “max conversions” and broad match combo might seem like a golden goose, consider A/B testing other match types and bid strategies over time. You might discover even more effective ways to reach your target audience.

Broad match can be a powerful tool, but it requires careful management. By understanding its limitations and exceptions, you can maximise your campaign reach without sacrificing relevance or budget efficiency.

Need a fresh perspective? Let’s talk.

At 360 OM, we specialise in helping businesses take their marketing efforts to the next level. Our team stays on top of industry trends, uses data-informed decisions to maximise your ROI, and provides full transparency through comprehensive reports.

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