Relying Heavily on Broad Match Keywords Is A Campaign Killer

By: Samantha Bedford

Search engine marketing is deceptively simple…sometimes. For some folks, and agencies frankly, setting up a paid search campaign is easy. It requires a few minutes of set-up to be up and running with AdWords, but just because it seems easy, doesn’t mean that a campaign is set-up correctly. There are several things that can hurt performance in the long run that may be utilized or over-looked during the set-up process.

General Keyword Planning

For instance, let’s say that we were going to create a campaign for Pico. We might hop into keyword planner, include a keyword like “search engine marketing”, insert our homepage and press “Get Ideas.” That isn’t necessarily a terrible place to start, because after all you should start somewhere, but it’s generally a problem if that is all the thought that goes into your keyword list. It’s important to utilize the tools available in conjunction with other resources – like your client’s website, competitors and the search engine landscape as a whole.

Broad Match Keywords with Google AdWords Keyword Planner

Even keyword lists that are more succinctly created from the start can run into a major issue down the line though if someone isn’t actively managing the campaign to ensure that irrelevant terms aren’t creeping into the campaign through a heavy reliance on Broad Match keywords.

Targeting Broad Match Keywords

Let’s take a step back. What are Broad Match Keywords? Google explains it pretty well, but the basis of their definition is that it allows you to spend less time creating keyword lists, and more time looking at actual search data as it pertains to your campaign. So, if you’re bidding on a term like “Search Engine Marketing Agency” you might also bid on keywords like “Paid Search Agency” or “SEM Agency.” These terms are all relevant and likely render the user with a positive result if they were served an ad for Pico, but these terms are all selected by Google so it isn’t the most judicious way to bid on terms. Within this context, Google could also serve up an ad for someone searching for “Paid Search Careers.” It’s close to being relevant, but that wasn’t the goal of our campaign and this will likely result in several searches for a term that we didn’t intend on bidding on. Even in the screenshot from Google AdWords Support below, you can see that if you’re bidding on “low-carb diet plan” it could be quite possible for your diet plan to not be relevant to “Mediterranean diet plans.”
Examples of Broad Match Keywords

Broad Match Keywords, What Are They Good For?

As Google suggests, Broad Match Keywords do serve a purpose. They can be utilized to help find keyword veins that you might not have found in your research and frankly there is no better way to see what people are searching for than by participating in the auctions as part of a robust search engine marketing campaign.

All-too-often we’ve seen campaigns that have suffered from inattentiveness over the years that result in Broad Match Keywords being utilized as a catch-all way for the agency to spend out the client’s budget. Without doing a deep dive as to what types of keywords, and match types the agency is bidding on behalf of the client, it’s easy to look at top-line stats and think that the campaign is running well without knowing that there is a potential heap of wasted spend.

Quality Scores

Another issue that you can run into when a campaign relies too heavily on Broad Match Keywords is increased costs due to low Quality Scores. While the short-term impact of this will be relatively limited if you’re actively managing a campaign, a campaign that is not being actively managed will run into more major problems with low Quality Scores and thus inflated costs.

In Conclusion

As with many components of digital marketing, anyone can technically run a paid search campaign. The differences between hiring an experienced search engine marketing agency and hiring an amateur are rather stark when you dive into the details of how a campaign is being managed on a day-to-day basis. It’s important to treat a client’s budget as your own money to ensure that you’re being judicious with spend, not being too risky in running experiments, and always optimizing towards performance.

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