Samantha Noble

The Dangers of Broad Match in PPC Advertising

23rd Feb 2010 PPC Blog 2 minutes to read

Whilst exuberance to market your new website is understandable, your inexperience may be costly. Pay per Click advertising offers a great opportunity to attract targeted traffic, but it isn’t without its risks.

Broad match is PPC’s very own siren on the rocks. Whilst it offers you the tantalising treat of traffic, it could also leave your budget in a wreck. Within a well-optimised, closely managed campaign it can help expand your online visibility; unfortunately, for those who are just starting out, a budget can be easily decimated with very little return on your investment.

So what is broad match?

Well, there are three basic choices available to you when creating a PPC account with Google AdWords or Microsoft adCenter: Exact, Phrase and Broad. Exact, (paraphrasing from my earlier 12 AdWords Tips for Christmas post) is pretty much what it says on the tin; the advert will only appear in searches where the search query matches exactly the term you’re bidding on. Phrase allows it to appear for searches that include additional words, before and after the key term. But broad gives the search engine license to interpret the term that you’ve bid on and show it for other searches that it deems to be relevant to what you’re looking for.

Already alarm bells may be ringing already.

For anybody just starting out in PPC advertising or has a tight budget, exact match is the only way to go. This way you have full control over your bids and you won’t end up wasting money on clicks from irrelevant searches. Your traffic will be lower, but it will be more targeted and you won’t be wasting money on irrelevant clicks.

You can also build up your campaigns, adding negative keywords and optimising your ad text. Over time this will help you to lower Cost per Click, improve your Click through Rate (CTR), increase targeted traffic and give a healthy boost too your ROI.

Only when you have this experience and the campaign has matured fully should you consider moving on to broad match. With negative keywords in place to ensure that you don’t appear for the most frequent and least relevant phrases, you will be better protected against budget draining clicks.

Very few people can hit the ground running with PPC. It isn’t the kind of marketing strategy that you can instantly pick up. There are subtleties and nuances involved in Pay per Click advertising that can help to save you money and ensure you’re targeting the best audience. These go in your favour, the campaign’s a success. They go against you, budgets run dry and the ROI suffers. Essentially, you need to know what you’re doing.

If you’re not confident doing it yourself or have already been burnt by using broad match too early, you might want to consider professional Pay per Click management. This way you can benefit from having experience on your side without having to go through the rigmarole of handing over vast sums of money to Google for little return. It’s not for everybody and PPC can be learnt; but as with all things, it takes time and plenty of patience to do it right.

So whatever your strategy, if you’re looking to get started in PPC advertising, steer clear of the broad match. Don’t have your ‘event security’ site appearing for ‘security safes’ or have your ‘online sports shop’ appear for The Daily Sport. The words might be similar, but the meanings (and audiences) are far from the same.

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Samantha Noble

Sam is a talented multi-tasker, a dedicated mother to the gorgeous Theo and a big fan of cooking – word on the street is that she’s pretty good in the kitchen but we’re yet to know if this is true or not. Hint hint, we like cake, Sam.

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