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6 Ways To Optimally Use Keyword Match Types for AdWords Success

There are a lot of different theories on how keyword match types are best implemented to give you the biggest bang for your buck. For a long time a strong combination of Phrase and Exact Match was the best way to go about it.

With the introduction of BMM a little over a year ago we’ve seen a shift in the way most AdWords managers use keyword match types. I’ve been lately asked a lot about how different match types should be used, so in this post I’m revealing some of my own ways for match type management in my AdWords campaigns.

The suggestions below are only suggestions and I advocate you to learn more about match types by yourself. In any given situation I might recommend the complete opposite due to several factors, but the outlines below are the approach I use in 90% of my campaigns.

1) Work Smart: Don’t Include All Variations of Your Keywords for BMM Keywords.

I’ve always been a big advocate of working smart, when it comes to AdWords. You can perform so many different changes and optimizations that if you don’t prioritize your time to work on those aspects that will produce the biggest return you’ll always be one step behind.

I recently consulted a big ecommerce Client in Europe who was dissatisfied with results after having activated a bid management system. He wondered whether he could do something to help the problem along or if it was altogether the system’s fault.

The primary reason for the system not working was that he had several variations for most of his keywords in three different match types. Furthermore many of his BMM keywords were set with variations of the ‘+’-sign used in BMM. A single keyword could therefore result in 10 different keywords when divided into match types.

The problem occurred when the bid management system (or for that matter any AdWords manager) reached the point of needing enough data in order to make decisions about bidding. Seeing that the clicks for some keywords were scattered on all the different keyword variations, very few keywords were eligible for optimization.

My tip for avoiding this is to let Google work for you, as simple as that. Make sure to have all your main keywords and variations in Exact Match (not all cases require this many variations):

  • [Keyword example]
  • [Keyword examples]
  • [Keywords example]
  • [Keywords examples]
  • [Example keyword]
  • [Examples keyword]
  • [Example keywords]
  • [Examples keywords]

Don’t use phrase match to begin with (unless you have explicit reasons), and use only BMM to first-time or rare long-tail searches including your keywords:

  • +keyword +example

To begin with I wouldn’t recommend adding plural and singular unless it’s an important keyword. The BMM type will make sure your ads are shown on almost all variations (even the tiny-bit crazy ones).

This makes for a super simple account structure that will allow your Automated Rules, AdWords Scripts or Third Party Software to do the bid management for you. It will also help you have a clean interface to work with and will keep you focused while you’re working.

2) Use BMM As The Catcher For New Searches And One-Time Searches

The Broad Match Modifier match type has long been a very good addition to your AdWords tool set. It has been underused for a very long time, but I can finally see it pop up in many of the new accounts we onboard in White Shark Media.

For me, BMM keywords have replaced both Phrase and Broad Match in many of my campaigns. They allow just enough flexibility not to have to include all variations of a given keyword. At the same time BMM is stricter than Broad Match and doesn’t allow your keywords to appear for all kind of insane searches.

You’ll still see the occasional hiccup, but all in all, the BMM match type is one of the best additions to AdWords in later years.

I always use BMM at the beginning of any new AdWords campaign. This allows me to focus on the campaign as a whole while still making sure that I have most of my bases covered when it comes down to keyword variations.

3) Put Your Exact Match In Their Own Ad Groups

I must admit that I’ve been trying out this approach quite a lot in the last 6 months, but very little prior to that. I’ve been dabbling more in automated systems for bid management, and one of the challenges I’ve been facing was always that the bid for BMM or Phrase Match keywords would sometimes exceed the Exact Match bid. This would therefore result in BMM keywords taking over all the impressions that the Exact Match keyword should be responsible for.

To avoid this I routinely put important high-volume keywords in two different ad groups:

  • [Ad Group Example]
  • +Ad Group Example

This enables me to control the impressions by separating BMM/Phrase and Exact Match, and using internal negative keywords. This kind of control allowed me to sleep better at night knowing that my Exact Match keywords would not be overruled by BMM keywords with a higher ad rank.

4) Don’t Use Phrase Match And BMM For One-Worded Keywords

Having a keyword consisting of only one word can sometimes produce great volume in your campaign. However, if you put that keyword in both Phrase Match and BMM you’ll have the two keywords fighting over the same search queries.

This can result in random search queries being triggered by either keyword which is generally just a big mess. When it comes down to choosing between BMM and Phrase I usually end up putting one-worded keywords in Phrase Match. This allows me to control better which search queries my ads will be showing up for.

Using Phrase Match requires me to think about the different major variations that the keyword might be searched for, but seeing that most one-worded keywords have a big amount of searches, I know that this effort will be rewarded in the future.


5) Don’t Use Phrase Match Keywords For Low Volume Keywords

When I start optimizing new campaigns I usually try to avoid using Phrase Match for keywords that don’t have a lot of searches. If you start using Phrase Match AND Exact Match AND then BMM for low volume keywords, you’ll start scattering out the clicks for most keywords, meaning that you’ll have to wait longer before you can get enough conversions that will allow you to make solid decisions about your bidding.

Using Phrase Match means that you’ll have to add several new keywords for plural, singular, and different word order, etc.

Save yourself the work and optimize other parts of your campaign. Unless the keyword is producing a high amount of clicks, then you’re not missing anything by only having a single variation of the keyword in BMM.

6) Bid Higher For Exact Match Keywords

Now that you have the basic rules for using keyword match types in AdWords, it’s important to know about Ad Rank. Ad Rank is not just the measure that Google uses to find out which advertiser is being shown the highest in their search results.

Ad Rank is also used to determine what keyword in your AdWords account will internally trigger certain searches. If you have two keywords

  • +keyword +example
  • [keyword example]

and the search is for [keyword example], then you’d naturally expect that the keyword responsible for showing your ad would be [keyword example].

However, what if I tell you that the bids and the Quality Score were completely different for the two keywords:

  • +keyword +example: QS 10 and $5 Bid
  • [keyword example]: QS 7 and $3 Bid

Roughly calculated the ad rank for the BMM keyword would be 50 and the Ad Rank for the Exact Match keyword would be 21. In this case the BMM keyword would actually start being responsible for the searches the Exact Match keyword should attract.

The negative part about this is that it might be hiding what’s really happening with a keyword. If your BMM keyword is producing solid ROI, but your Exact Match keyword is really poor, you’re likely to increase the bid for BMM and decrease the bid for Exact Match.

By doing this, the exact match search will start showing up under BMM. The exact match search will still have a bad ROI and the ROI for your BMM keyword will now start falling. Once you see this you’ll start reducing the bid for your BMM keywords even though your BMM keyword might still be producing by itself quite solid results. The ROI has decreased because the exact match searches are now being counted inside the BMM keyword.

The usual way to handle this challenge is by putting Exact Match and BMM keywords in separate ad groups, or by bidding higher for Exact Match. This of course requires being very careful with subsequent bid management not to accidentally set the wrong bids.

How Do You Manage Keyword Match Types?

I would love to hear from other AdWords managers about their experiences with match types. My approach might not be the same as many others are using, so I hope to hear from other advertisers about both their positive and negative experiences.


Featured Image: via Depositphotos

Category SEO
Andrew Lolk Lead PPC Manager, Founder at SavvyRevenue

Andrew is a paid search/social marketer, blogger, and entrepreneur. He’s the founder of SavvyRevenue: Helping savvy eCommerce stores profit with ...

6 Ways To Optimally Use Keyword Match Types for AdWords Success

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