Google AdWords Series: Selecting the Keywords and Matching Options

How to select the keywords in AdWords and how Google matches them to the search queries.

Selecting the keywords for your campaign is a science for itself, but there are several common recommendations you can keep to:

  • Think in terms of a concrete problem your potential customer wants to solve, a situation where your product is used or how what features and qualities are peculiar to your product or brand. Instead of “shoes” use “white Adidas shoes” “tennis shoes” “lightweight shoes” “big size shoes”.
  • Do not select your keywords too generally, more specific keywords often signal a higher purchase possibility. Use 2-3 word combinations, possibly including a word signaling buying intention (buy XXX online). If relevant, localize your keywords (XXX in Berlin).
  • You can find good sources for relevant keyword combinations by: analyzing your own web page and marketing material; watching your competitors; performing test searches in Google/Bing; surveying your customers or your target segment; scanning industry-related news in search for trends; or even using web tools like the free Google Keyword Planner tool (this, however, is not meant to encourage  you to generate whole lists automatically!).
  • According to Google, you do not need to include forms of the same word or misspellings, but make sure to consider synonyms and modifiers commonly used with your keywords (e.g. noun+adjective phrases).
  • Consider both the frequency of the search and the competition for the keywords you select. The higher the competition is, the higher your cost per click will be. Do not use keywords that have little relevance for your products and website, otherwise this will result in low conversions and bad quality score for your keywords (more on the quality score and the actual cost per click in my next articles on Google AdWords).

After preparing lists of 10-20 keywords for each AdWord Group, decide on the type of keyword match you would like to use.

  • Broad match. This matching option helps Google make most of its money with AdWords. Any words you enter without additional marking will, per default, use the type broad match. To explain, if you type in white shoes, Google may match it with white boots, and black shoes. I would not recommend this option for anyone, and especially for beginners, unless you are bidding on your brand name or have a unique product that only you sell.
  • Broad match modifier. In this case, words of a phrase have a “plus” sign in front of them. Words in these phrases are matched to search queries in any order, but synonyms are not used. In other words, +white +shoes will match to: shoes of white color, shoes in white, a white sport shoe.
  • Phrase match. For this option you need to type in your keywords in inverted commas. The related search results will include the complete phrase you enter plus any words before or after it- “white shoes” will be matched with white shoes Adidas, second hand white shoes, etc.
  • Exact match. To use it, enter your keywords in square brackets, e.g. [white shoes], in this case only the exact search terms entered will be matched to your ad. This might significantly limit the number of impressions for your ads, but will probably result in higher CTR rates and conversions.
  • Negative match. If you use broad or phrase match, do not forget to include a list of negative keywords. In the example with white shoes, assuming you are an owner of an online shoe shop you may want to include the words “for free” or the names of well-known brands you do not carry.

Remember to use the keywords in your ad copy and if appropriate, the display URL as well. After setting up a campaign and running it for a couple of days (or several hours for large campaigns), make sure to review the performance of the separate keywords. If a keyword gets almost no impressions, it is probably too specific to be matched against search terms. If the CTR is too low, then your ad copy is not very relevant for what the visitor is looking for (especially in case of broad match options) or is simply not very well written. And finally, if the conversion on the clicked ads is low, make sure to optimize your landing page or otherwise bid on more specific keywords and add more negative keywords to make sure you get more qualified leads.

 

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Author: Elena

I acquired a BA degree in International Business with a specialization in Marketing from Nuremberg Technical School and a parallel degree from Leeds Metropolitan University. In 2013-2014, I worked in the field of performance and conversion optimization with an IT company and then was employed in content marketing. In 2016, I went back to working with Web Analytics and gained additional experience in project management. During this time, I received an Award of Achievement in Digital Analytics from the University of British Columbia (Canada). Currently, I am employed in Online Marketing. My areas of specialization include online marketing strategy, content creation, web analytics, conversion optimization and usability.

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