If you are still using broad match for search engine marketing on Google, you are wasting your money. You can greatly improve your ROI by using phrase match or modified broad match instead, in combination with careful analysis of your actual search query performance.

Why is traditional broad match a waste?

When I started managing search engine marketing for Zecco, I noticed incredibly high spend on two particular broad match terms: “stock” and “trade.” (I’m not revealing anything secret about Zecco’s business — everybody in online stock brokerage knows that those terms are extremely common.)

We got some good leads from those terms, but our cost per acquisition was too high. So I did what our useless, money-wasting search agency never did: I looked at the search query performance reports for each term.

It was shocking.

(By the way, I still meet supposedly professional managers of search engine marketing who never pull search query performance reports. If that describes your search marketers, you should fire them. Or perhaps show them this article.)

For the term “trade,” (as in, “I want to trade stocks”), Google matched us with:

  • Commerce
  • Tree
  • Trae (a singer)
  • Tre
  • Trad

All these terms were useless. “Stock” was even worse, matching with:

  • Socks
  • Inventory
  • Stick
  • Stickpeople
  • Sockmonkeys

Needless to say, all these queries were ridiculously irrelevant as well.

Using the search query report, I found that people who converted on “trade” always typed the word “trade,” and that people who converted on the keyword “stock” always managed to type the word “stock.”  It turns out that they weren’t hard words to spell at all, and that using broad match to find a single, easily spelled word is like using a shotgun to hunt hummingbirds.  Plus the same terms would have been picked up in Phrase match, with higher relevance and lower cost per click.

In other words, every dollar we spent on broad match was a waste. I shut those terms down, saved a bunch of money, and never missed a good lead.

Use modified broad matching instead

In 2010, Google introduced the broad match modifier, which allowed you to do what we often call modified broad matching.

This is what broad match should have been all along: a way to match terms on the basis of slight misspellings, or based on combinations of two or more keywords that weren’t always in the same order. The virtue of this is that when people typed in any of the following queries…

  • “online stock trade”
  • “online stock trading”
  • “trading stocks online”
  • “I want to trade stocks online”
  • “How do I trade stocks online?”
  • “What’s the best place to trade stocks online?”

… I could use ONE keyword to match them all (+online +stock +trade). One good keyword means easier management and higher relevance, reducing your cost per acquisition and increasing ROI.

Since then I’ve used modified broad matching, and it works wonderfully. Naturally, you should still analyze the search queries that match the keyword in order to find new exact and phrase match opportunities, but if you’re still using traditional broad match, you’re only making Google rich, and yourself poor.

One Response to Stop Using Broad Match on Google Adwords

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