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Monday, July 16, 2007

Purple Flowers Are Not Pink Despite What Google Might Think

In my last post about the new Google AdWords search query performance report, I mentioned that advertisers are going to start noticing problems with broad match keywords. I've been warning readers of this blog, since last year, to be careful with AdWords expanded matching. It's important to recognize that there is no such thing as broad match. Let me say that again: There is no such thing as broad match! Broad match is actually expanded match. This help page from Google about the new search query performance report serves as a good example:
Ad group A - [purple flowers]
Ad group B - "purple flowers"
Ad group C - purple flowers

When the user query is pink flowers, only Ad group C (purple flowers) can be shown for this query. The Search Query Match Type column will say BROAD.
IOW, a broad match of (purple flowers) can trigger an ad for a search on pink flowers. On the one hand, then, Google is putting the burden on advertisers to create rigorously relevant ads with custom landing pages in order to achieve a high quality score. On the other hand, Google is relaxing broad match so ads show up for keywords that aren't highly relevant.

purple flowersIf I've crafted an ad group around a "purple flowers" theme and am driving those clicks to a custom landing page (like these purple flowers), I'd be pretty unhappy to pay for clicks for pink flowers. Expanded matching is contrary to quality score. Is Google putting its own financial gain ahead of its advertisers? Or, is this a case of Google getting too big and the team coding the expanded broad match algorithm isn't working closely with those working on quality score changes? Whatever the reason, the expanded matching algorithm undermines changes advertisers have implemented in reaction to the quality score(s) algorithm.

So, how do you deal with broad matches implemented as expanded matches? I've found it useful to set discrete bids for all three match types. This is contrary to Google's advice:
There's no definitive Quality Score benefit to be gained from adding the same keyword multiple times with different match types to your account.

When choosing the appropriate match type for a keyword, we typically recommend following a 'broad-to-narrow' strategy:
  1. Start by using the broad matching option for a new keyword.
  2. Monitor which keyword variations are triggering your ads with a Search Query Performance Report.
  3. Refine the keyword.
Google does not recommend using all three match types in an ad group. They recommend starting with broad match only. This can be disastrous for a small business. I highly recommend using all of the match types (including negative keywords) in the keyword list for a single ad group. Think of it this way:
Google AdWords Match Types
Exact match is a subset of phrase match which is a subset of broad match, which is actually implemented using expanded matching. How do you apply this knowledge to your Google AdWords account, though? Set higher bids for exact than phrase and then lower bids for broad than phrase. Think of it this way:
  1. With exact match, you know exactly what keywords you're buying
  2. With phrase match, you have a pretty good idea what you're buying.
  3. With broad (expanded) match, you have absolutely no idea what you're buying!
Set bids accordingly. For instance, using the purple flowers ad group theme, that ad group's keyword list might look something like this:

[purple flowers] ** 0.44
"purple flowers" ** 0.21
purple flowers ** 0.07

You still derive the benefit of broad matches without risking too much of your budget paying for untargeted traffic. Track the actual keyword searches that the broad and phrase matches trigger and evolve the keyword list over time. Know what you're buying. Caveat emptor!

BTW, if you've found this Google AdWords tip useful, consider subscribing to Apogee Weblog. I write a fair amount about Google AdWords strategies. Also, try these 11 Tips for AdWords. Not 10. That list goes to 11.

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Blogger Mike said...

You've done it once again! Thanks for all the insightful posts you create to help stop people getting ripped off by broad match.

Tue Jul 17, 01:58:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Richard said...

Thanks, Mike! I do try to be helpful. ;-)

Tue Jul 17, 07:04:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I visit this forum and others where I can find comment from Google's customers. I watch Google from a stock/investment perspective and like the insight I can glean from advertiser's comments.

I do have a question for those who advertise with Google.

I see people using terms like "ripped off" in relation to what they are learning about Google's "broad match." Google makes certain disclosures to those who buy advertising from them. Do those who have been buying advertising from Google, feel that Google has informed them adequately about what they were purchasing? Was Google clear about how the search terms they were buying would be displayed?

Essentially, I'm curious if any advertisers are thinking that Google's previous disclosures, about how ads would be displayed based upon the keyword/phrases an advertiser was purchasing, was in any way "deceptive"?

I'm trying (in a very unscientific way) to see if there is any risk of a lawsuit against Google from advertisers who may be thinking that Google has either breached their advertising contract, or engaged in deceptive business practices by not making the potential pitfalls of "broad match" clear enough to advertisers.

Thanks for any input.


Wed Jul 18, 05:05:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Raha said...

I have read this post when you wrote it.
Today I made a test, and voila, broad match does not work rhis way now, on the contarary, it works as you hoped it would. Can you clafify it for me?

Thu Dec 20, 04:26:00 AM EST  
Anonymous Tad said...

I now know how Adwords "decides" that Pink flowers are appropriate to even show for purple flowers. It has everything to do with user click behavior on pink flowers and nothing to do with actual relevancy.

Wed Jul 16, 02:12:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Goran said...

That you for the insightful post and I have just joined your feed looking forward to reading many more useful posts.

My question to you is how do we track the actual words that are being searched in broad as analytics does not give it to us.

I would like to see in Analytics that I added the word Purple Flowers and the searcher typed Pink Flowers and they either bounced or converted.


Mon Sep 15, 04:23:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Richard said...

Hi Goran. Here are 3 places to find this information:

1) Analytics: Read How to Get Detailed PPC Keyword Data from Google Analytics
2) AdWords: Try a search query performance report
3) Logs: Use DKI for tracking in your destination URLs

Let me know if that helps. ;-)

Tue Sep 16, 01:41:00 PM EDT  
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