Why You’re Wasting Adwords Spend On Irrelevant Searches

Almost every time I’m asked to look at someone’s Adwords account that’s losing money… I see this same problem.

Despite their best intentions, they are wasting a significant portion of their Adwords spending on visitors that were NEVER going to convert.

How?

Broad match keywords. 

By default if you just type a keyword into Adwords – its broad match and Google thanks you for wasting money.

Broad match keywords will show your ads for any search query with a word in your key phrase even remotely similar including synonyms, singular and plural forms, possible misspellings, and phrases containing your keywords. Since broad match works on each word in your phrase individually as well as all together, chances are your ads will get shown for many irrelevant searches.

Let’s say you set a broad match keyword for red flowers in Chicago. Your ads will show for all of these searches:

  • red flowers delivered in Chicago
  • red tulips in San Diego
  • apartments in Chicago
  • flower red memorial
  • blue flower book
  • red street Chicago

What’s that flushing sound you hear? Its your money going down the toilet.

 

Use exact match or phrase match keywords instead

Phrase match is when you put a keyword in quotation marks like “red flowers”. It will display your ads for any search query that has those words in that order.

“red flowers” will display ads like this:

  • red flowers – MATCH
  • flowers red – NO MATCH
  • red flowers in Chicago – MATCH
  • red tulips – NO MATCH
  • blue flower book – NO MATCH

Exact match is when you put a keyword in brackets like [red flowers]. It will only display your ads for that exact search term.

 [red flowers] will display ads like this:

  • red flowers – MATCH
  • flowers red – NO MATCH
  • red flowers in Chicago – NO MATCH
  • red tulips – NO MATCH
  • blue flower book – NO MATCH

Compare that to broad match red flowers which displays ads like this:

  • red flowers – MATCH
  • flowers red – MATCH
  • red flowers in Chicago – MATCH
  • red tulips – MATCH
  • blue flower book – MATCH

I recommend for most Adwords campaigns to start out with exact match and phrase match keywords. If you can’t get your campaign profitable with highly relevant searches… how can you ever expect it to be profitable with much less relevant broad match searches?

 

The next step is to further improve your targeting by using negative keywords.

Negative keywords are one of the secret sauce components of a profitable Adwords campaign. You set them to prevent your ads from displaying for certain search terms.

For example if you sell flowers but don’t offer tulips, you wouldn’t want your ads showing for tulips so you can set tulip as a negative keyword.

To set Negative Keywords go to your Campaign and then the Keywords tab. Scroll all the way down to the bottom and click “Negative Keywords” (Google Help article). Campaign level negative keywords are fine for most people.

How do I determine my negative keywords? 

I’m sure you can think of a few for your campaign right now, probably terms like “free” or “cheap” should be negative keywords if you are selling premium products.

The next step is to see the actual search terms that people used to click on your Adwords ads.

 

How To See The Actual Search Terms Visitors Used To Click On Your Ads

In the Adwords interface, open up the campaign you will check the search terms for.

Click Dimensions

Click View: Search Terms

Set the date to the past month (or longer)

If the number of keywords displayed is greater than 100, you can reduce it by setting a filter — Click Filter: Clicks >= 2

Seeing the actual search terms visitors used to find your ads can lead to some surprising results. You should analyze this report at least once a month:

If the keyword is obviously not relevant – add it to your negative keywords list.

If the keyword you are unsure about – Google it and see if the results are relevant to your campaign.

If the keyword is clearly relevant and should be targeted – add it into your campaign targeting as phrase match & exact match

 

Bonus: Modified broad match keywords

I waited to mention these because I wanted to drive home that you should start out with exact match and phrase match keywords first.

Modified broad match keywords will trigger ads for search queries that closely resemble them. These are much tighter than regular broad match keywords and get less irrelevant searches. They also provide more reach than phrase match and exact match (but are less relevant).

From Google Help Article: To use the broad match modifier, just put a plus symbol (+) directly in front of one or more words in a broad match keyword. Each word preceded by a + has to appear in your potential customer’s search exactly or as a close variant. Close variants include misspellings, singular/plural forms, abbreviations and acronyms, and stemmings (like “floor” and “flooring”). However, synonyms (like “quick” and “fast”) and related searches (like “flowers” and “tulips”) are not considered close variants.

The modified broad match keyword +red +flowers displays ads like this:

  • red flowers – MATCH
  • flowers red – MATCH
  • red flowers in Chicago – MATCH
  • red tulips – NO MATCH
  • blue flower book – NO MATCH

 

 Image from Google Help showing how all the match types work

Summing it all up – How To Run Your Adwords Campaign

For most ecommerce Adwords campaigns I would recommend doing this:

Initial campaign set up

  • use exact match
  • use phrase match
  • set any obvious negative keywords

Run the campaign for 2 – 4 weeks

  • analyze the Adwords Search Terms Report for new negative keywords
  • If the ROI is positive – try adding modified broad match keywords to get more reach

Run the campaign for 2 – 4 more weeks

  • analyze the Adwords Search Terms Report for new negative keywords
  • If the ROI is positive – keep the modified broad match keywords, if not then get rid of them
  • If things are going really well – consider adding a few regular broad match keywords.

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Have you been using broad match keywords in your campaigns?

Let me know if you have any questions – I respond to every comment.