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For The Sake Of Your Account…Stop Using Broad Match!

If you are still using Broad Match keywords in your PPC account, STOP! 

Have you compared the performance of Broad Match keywords to the other match types in your account lately? This antiquated match type comes with high CPCs and irrelevant traffic – chances are you are overpaying for clicks you don’t want.

Let’s Start With Some Background On Match Types

Not quite familiar with Broad match type and the other match types available? Here’s a simple example:

Say you are a wedding dress designer who wants to advertise to brides in the market to purchase a dress. You build out each match type in your account to cover all possible queries that pertain to wedding dresses.

Match Type Keyword Matching Search Query
Exact [wedding dresses] wedding dresses

wedding dress

Phrase “wedding dresses” Where can I buy a wedding dress?

Wedding dress boutique near me 

Broad wedding dresses Mother of the bride dress

Bridesmaid dresses

Bridal shower dresses

Flower girl

  • Exact Match: Symbolized by brackets. Your ad will serve when someone searches wedding dresses or a close variant of that search only. Because this match type is highly relevant to your products/services, it typically sees the most efficient performance: strong CTR and Conv. Rate and lower CPCs.
  • Phrase Match: Symbolized by quotations. Your ad will serve as long as the keyword is included somewhere in the search, in that exact order. Someone searching Where can I buy a wedding dress? would be eligible to see your ad with this match type. This is the next best thing to Exact match. This match type allows you to target highly relevant search queries that you might not already have built as an Exact match.  

Following so far? Great, because this is where it gets tricky. 

  • Broad Match: No symbol. This match type gives the full control over to the Search Engine. This is your way of telling the engine “I sell products/services like this keyword, but I need you to go find the search queries for me.” Because of this, Search Engines charge a premium, and your ad typically serves for irrelevant searches. Search Engines will find search queries that are closely related to wedding dresses, but not necessarily dresses for the bride. We used Google’s Keyword Planner to find queries that would match to wedding dresses in the example above. If you are a wedding dress designer and your ad is showing for bridesmaid dresses or bridal shower dresses, your ad is showing to the wrong audience, and you’ve now wasted money if those searches led to a click to your site where you only offer bridal gowns. Keep in mind this is the default match type when you build new keywords in your account, so be mindful to change to Exact or Phrase match.

Why You Should Stop Using Broad Match

Now that you know the difference between match types, let’s get back to why you should stop using Broad Match. Here is an example of how Broad Match impacts your overall performance: 

The chart below is a real-life example of performance by match type. This account was investing 50% of their ad spend into Broad match keywords, with ¼ of that spend going toward search queries that didn’t directly relate to the products/services offered (think back to the wedding dress example and ads showing for mother of the bride dress).

Match Type CPC Conv. Rate ROAS
Broad $  2.11 7.9% $    7.17
Phrase $  0.98 16.2% $  32.02
Exact $  0.66 9.2% $  27.48

That’s a lot of wasted and inefficient ad spend!

So If You Shouldn’t Use Broad Match, How Do You Capture All Those Searches You Don’t Have Built Out As Exact and Phrase Match?

In a pre-2010 PPC world, Broad Match keywords were a vital part of your PPC strategy to ensure you were capturing search queries that may not match to the Exact and Phrase Match keywords built in your account. And given that 15% of all searches each day have never been searched before, you needed to be able to capture those new search queries. But today, there are other more relevant and cost-efficient ways to cast that wider net.   

Broad Match Modifier

The “newest” addition to the Match type family is Broad Match Modifier. This match type was introduced in 2010 and was meant to be the middleman between Phrase and Broad Match – giving you more reach than Phrase but more targeted than Broad. Let’s go back to the wedding dress example: 

Match Type Keyword Matching Search Query
Broad wedding dresses Mother of the bride dress

Bridesmaid dresses

Bridal shower dresses

Flower girl

Broad Match Modifier +wedding +dresses I need a dress for my wedding

What’s a popular dress style for a wedding?

  • Broad Match Modifier: The difference between this match type and Broad Match is the + symbol. When you add a + in front of a term in your keyword, you are signifying that word needs to be included somewhere in the search query in order to serve an ad. For the example above, the words wedding and dresses both need to be included somewhere in the search query, in any order. Adding the + symbol now makes your ad ineligible from serving to an audience looking for mother of the bride and bridesmaid dresses, as those are not words included in the keyword. Yet, you are still capturing relevant search queries that you otherwise don’t have built out in your account. Keep in mind this match type could still pick up irrelevant search queries, but at a much lower rate (and cheaper) than Broad Match. (You can eliminate unwanted search queries by using negative keywords, but let’s save that topic for another day!) 

Let’s go back to that real-life example again. Changing the Broad Match keywords to Broad Match Modifier led to a 30% lower CPC, 70% higher Conv. Rate and 150% increase in return on ad spend.

Match Type CPC Conv. Rate ROAS
Broad $  2.11 7.9% $    7.17
Broad Match Modifier $  1.49 13.4% $  18.40

The numbers don’t lie! So why wouldn’t you make the simple switch from Broad Match to Broad Match Modifier? 

Final Thoughts

A successful PPC strategy utilizes a combination of all of these match types – you just have to think smart about how/when to use each. Review your search query reports for Phrase and Broad Match Modifier keywords to identify and build out highly relevant search queries as Exact Match to maximize reach and minimize cost.

If you have any questions about match types, or how to deploy a match type strategy, reach out to us!

Heather Stierly
Heather Stierly
Heather is a PPC expert and passionate digital marketing manager with six years of experience driving cross-channel strategies. A strategic thinker with an unmatched organization, she has run large-scale PPC accounts and managed multimillion-dollar budgets for well-known retailers and lead-gen clients.
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