If keyword planning is the foundation pillar of paid search marketing; organizing them into ad groups effectively is a structural requirement. In this blog post, we will be looking into some of the best practices around how to effectively group keywords in ad groups and use match types efficiently.
Let’s begin by going through the basics of match types first. Keyword match type essentially tells the search engine about how close the ads to keyword relationship should be. Depending on the search engine, there could be different types of match types like broad, exact and so on. Let’s try to understand each of them.
Broad Match Type
This is available in both Google AdWords and Bing Ads.If chosen this match type, your ad can appear on any keyword variations – exact, synonyms, different word patterns, misspellings or related searches. For example, if the keyword was ballpoint pen; you ad could appear for ballpoint pen, pen ballpoint, ballpoint pen, ballpoint pens, ballpoint green pen, pen, ballpoint and so on.
Broad match type keywords are used for increasing the reach. While the main benefit of using broad match type keywords is that it helps you reach a wider audience with a minimal list of keywords, the major drawback of this match type is that your ad may be shown to irrelevant keyword searches. In the above example, for instance – ballpoint pen sucks. Another drawback of this match type is reduced quality score since such keywords apply to a wide range of possibilities. Broad match type is the default match type for all keywords in both Google AdWords and Bing Ads.
Broad Match Modifier
This match type is used to tell the search engine that a certain word or pattern should be present in the search query for an ad to show up. This helps in improving the keyword-ad relationship and thus the CTRs or conversions. In case of Google AdWords, broad match types are modified using ‘+’. A word appended with the plus sign needs to be present in the search query for an ad to show up.
For example ballpoint +pen. The main difference here is this match type doesn’t include synonyms or close variations unlike broad match type. Broad match modifier could be considered if certain words in the targeted search queries are important. One of the main applications of broad match modifier is the brand searches where brand name is preserved. The challenge with this match type is that it can still show ads for some irrelevant search queries. For example, ballpoint +pen can show ads for the search term — ink pen.
Phrase Match Type
This match type enables fine tuning of keyword-ad relationship further. Phrase match types are created by including keywords inside quotes.In phrase match types, the order of keyword components are preserved. For example in the case of ‘ballpoint pens’, ads will be shown only for search queries like buy ballpoint pens or green ballpoint pens. In this match type, ads are shown for close variants and queries with extra words either before or after the phrase keyword.While using phrase match type keywords, there is a chance to improve your Click Through Rates (CTR), since the ads will be shown to more relevant search queries. Another benefit of this match type is that such keyword text will be shown bold whenever it exactly matches with the search query. Having said these, you ad could still show for some queries like ‘ballpoint pens are pathetic’.
Exact Match Type
In the case of keywords using exact match type, ads will be shown only if the search query is the exact keyword. We use  to indicate exact match type based keywords. Thus an ad for [ballpoint pen] will be shown only if the search query is exactly ballpoint pen. Usually exact match type based keywords are where a marketer starts testing out the campaigns. Also this match type helps marketers with limited budget and for targeted marketing campaigns. There is a small difference in how Google AdWords and Bing Ads treats exact match types. In the case of Ads, articles (like a, an, the) are ignored. Thus your ad could show up in Bing if the search query is The ballpoint pen while Google will not show it.
Starting last year, both Google and Bing have started applying a variation to exact and phrase match types called close variant keyword matching. In essence this functionality triggers ads for keywords with misspellings, singular/plural forms, stemming, slangs etc. A natural question that would arise is – isn’t it limiting the advertiser’s control of exact and phrases; no worries, there is a workaround – we can always use negative match type.
This is used to filter out traffic for which you don’t want the ads to show up. For example if you are a seller of movie DVDs, you don’t want traffic from searches involving torrent or rent out or free downloads. ‘-‘ used to indicate a negative keyword. Negative keywords not only help you in achieving a better ROI; but also helps you from becoming a victim of quality score reduction due to irrelevance (CTR will also get affected).In case of Google AdWords, negative keywords can be combined with other match types like exact or broad. For example – -[pen holders], -“ink pens”. But this feature is not available in Bing Ads as it considers all negative keywords as phrases.
Content Match Type
This is specific to Bing Ads and to content networks. The ad will be triggered if any word in the keyword or ad components match pages in websites Bing’s content network. For example if you are targeting DSLR Camera and the website in Bing’s content network allows ads related to ‘cameras’, the ad will show up.
Finally, in Google AdWords; there is an option to enable/disable whether you want to consider misspellings, plurals, close variants etc. at campaign level. This can be used if you want to be more precise and don’t want your ads to be shown for wider keywords.