Broad Match—Danger, Will Robinson.

October 21st 2008 06:28 pm

I started using Google Adwords in 2004, after buying Perry Marshall’s Definitive Guide to Google Adwords.

I just discovered something yesterday that I did not know, and which affected my Adwords campaigns in a negative way.

But first, a little background.

When you bid on a keyword or phrase, there are three types of matching that Google can do: exact, phrase, and broad.

You do this by putting your keyword phrase in square brackets, and Google will match it exactly. So if you bid on [red widget], your ad will only show if the user types in “red widget,” not “red widgets” or “widget red,” or even “I want a red widget.”

You do this by putting your phrase in quotes. Google will match the phrase exactly, but there can other words before and after. So “red widget” will show your ad for queries including

red widget
I once had a red widget

but not
red is the color my favorite widget.

You do this by not putting anything around your keyword phrase.

Up until recently, the broad match meant that Google will shows ads if the query matched the words of your phrase, but there can be extra words in between. They can even be in a different order. So if you bid on red widget, Google will show your ad for
red widget
my favorite widget is red
red is my widget of choice

For most people, this information isn’t new.

However, here’s what happened to me.

I have a campaign that has the broad match of the phrase lifelike baby dolls

A few days ago, I got an email from the affiliate manager for the company that makes the dolls. He sent me a screen shot that shows my ad was being displayed when someone typed in the term “ashton drake.”

Now, the Ashton Drake Galleries is owned by the affiliate company and is a trademarked term. I’m not allowed to bid on any variation of it. But it looked like I had bid on that term because my ad was showing for that.

Fortunately the affiliate manager asked me politely to stop bidding on Ashton Drake, rather than just terminating my relationship! I added ashton drake as a negative keyword which stopped my ad from showing. But I couldn’t figure out why it showed in the first place because my phrase of lifelike baby dolls doesn’t have those words in it.

The answer came with a little internet sleuthing.

Apparently this past June, Google rolled out a new “feature” that influences the broad match. I’ve seen this new feature referred to Automatic Matching, Expanded Broad Match, or Expanded Phrase Matching.

According to a blog I just found, if your ctr qualifies Google will use up your excess budget by showing your ads for keywords that are not in your list if it thinks those words are relevant. The bad thing about it is,
1. You have no way of turning it off other than to not use broad match at all (The Google rep says you’re supposed to be able to turn it off in the campaign settings, but since it’s so new, this hasn’t been implemented yet)
2. You have no way of seeing the keywords Google has expanded to.
3. It means your budget will always be reached!

What other words besides ashton drake is Google showing my ad for?

I used the Google Keyword Tool to try to make some sense of it. I tried doing a Google search for some of the phrases found under “Additional Keywords to Consider” but that doesn’t seem to be where Google gets its extended phrases from.

According to the blog post, Google comes up with these extended phrases by analyzing your site.

That sounds like a good thing, but the extended matching really isn’t. Ideally your ad and landing page should be geared to your ad. So if someone searches for lifelike baby doll, your ad contains lifelike baby doll and your landing page has a heading of Lifelike Baby Doll.

When Google shows your ad for a different phrase, you have no way of making your ad content and your landing page match that search phrase.

So now I’m going to go through all my campaigns and remove any broad match keywords I have. That’ll be pretty tedious.

I really wish Google would add an on/off check box for extended phrase matching.

Here are some of the blog posts that I referred to:

Posted by susb8383 under Google Adwords | 1 Comment »

One Response to “Broad Match—Danger, Will Robinson.”

  1. dan responded on 02 Jan 2009 at 8:23 pm #

    i have a post with same title… danger, will robinson

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