A few days ago, I was setting up my latest Google AdWords campaign. My brother was watching me work through the process, and he asked me:
"Why do you put quotation marks and square brackets around some keywords?"
I was a bit surprised to realise that I couldn't actually answer him - not in any definite way, at least. So, I set to work finding out what the matching options mean, and how they affect results.
First up is the default, Broad Match. This is where a keyword phrase is written as is, for example: google adwords
This method means that your Ad will potentially be shown to anyone searching for 'google' and 'adwords', in any order and possibly with other terms. So, anyone searching for 'adwords google help' could see your Ad.
Next is Phrase Match. This is where a keyword phrase is enclosed by quotation marks, for example: "google adwords"
This is essentially the next step up from Broad Match - your Ad could be shown to anyone searching for 'google' and 'adwords', but only in that order, and possibly with other terms included in the search. So, 'how to start a google adwords campaign' could trigger your Ad to be shown.
The last in the 'positive' matching options is Exact Match. This is where your keyword phrase is enclosed by square brackets, for example: [google adwords]
This is the most specific of the three types. In this case, your advert will only be shown if somebody searches for 'google adwords' in that order and with no other terms.
These options each have their own merits, but generally, the more specific the search term, the higher your CTR (Click Through Rate).
If you have a small niche to start with, then Broad Match will give you the most exposure. The downside is that the large number of triggering phrases could push your CPC (cost per click) up, as a result of competition.
Larger markets require highly-targeted Ads, and this is where Exact Match (and Phrase Match, to an extent) comes into play. Imagine trying to get clicks from keywords such as 'car parts' compared to 'ford fiesta rear wheel bearing'. Obviously, the more specific your keyword terms, the more likely you are to get an interested visitor to your site.
The last of the keyword matching options is Negative Keyword. This is where a keyword is precluded by a minus sign, for example: -tricks
This stops your Ad from being shown if somebody searches using that term. For example, 'google adwords tricks' would stop your Ad from being shown.
This is useful for prequalifying prospect clients - if you are trying to sell something, then '-free' would be a good term to include in your Keyword list.
Of course, as with any marketing campaign, which of these methods will work best for you is unpredictable, so always remember to test, test test!
If you need more help with setting up your Google AdWords campaign, this particular resource is one that I found useful when starting up: Adword Equalizer - http://www.rob-barrett.co.uk/recommendations_marketing/google-adword-equalizer.php
Best of luck with your Google AdWords campaign!
Rob Barrett is a professional web designer based in Dorset, England.
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