Why Is Google Pushing Broad Match Keywords?
Search engine developments
It helps to understand Broad Match keywords by understanding advancements in the search engine. In the past, search engines have been quite rigid in how they interpret a specific search query (aka the user’s need) vis a vis the content on a website.
In the last few years, however, SEO practices have largely moved from keyword stuffing to providing more useful content the person searching – aka adding actual value. This is mainly because of the updates Google has made to their language processing algorithm, called BERT. BERT has helped bring in the very important shift towards trying to understand the mindset of a user who searches for something. It’s less about the semantics of a query (though that’s still important), and more about intent.
Google is reducing its focus on Exact Match
For many years, Exact Match keywords used to be the way to go – so much so that they were almost a command. They have now become a suggestion. In the last couple of years, the level of control marketers have over this match type has been going down. This lack of control has forced marketers to clamp down tighter on negative keywords, and eliminate duplicate and similar keywords from accounts (as much as possible).
Plus, the way that Google triggers ads based on search terms has also been changing. Based on a Google announcement made in September 2021, according to Search Engine Land, keywords that are identical to a search term also receive priority, and this is true for both Broad and Phrase match types. For example, let’s say ‘black shoes’ and ‘black shoes near me’ are both in a certain account, as Broad Match keywords. If someone searches for ‘Black shoes near me’ then, this term is now preferred. As per Google, this reduces (if not eliminates) the need to have multiple identical keywords, but with different match types.
How to get the Most out of the Broad Match Type
Given the many givens, Broad Match can be a good solution for certain types of accounts. However, if you aren’t careful, you could end up spending a lot of money on a whole lot of irrelevant search terms. So, how do you make the most of this match type?
Have a very clear negative keyword strategy
One of the main downsides of the Broad Match type is that the expanded matching to multiple queries requires monitoring search terms and keywords regularly, and having a comprehensive negative keyword strategy. This needs to be done at two levels. At the Account level, use all the obvious negatives that should never trigger. Create a list that you can keep updating.
At the Ad Group level, it is important to focus on theming. Create negatives to ensure that one theme does not trigger from the wrong ad group. Ad group level negatives also play a key role in preventing negative keyword conflicts that you might not have caught, especially when using multiple match types within a particular account.
Consolidate your data
As Google’s smart bidding algorithms get smarter, it becomes important to have as much data as possible flowing into the system. Consolidating data helps your account perform at the highest possible levels. While segmenting an account based on Match Types is still very relevant, it isn’t the only way to structure an account any longer. Think about the best way you can get statistically significant data flowing into your account as soon as possible (while still controlling your keywords/search queries, of course).
Use smart bidding
As mentioned, smart bidding has been getting better in the last few years. Broad Match has been improving in terms of signaling capabilities. This means that pairing it with smart bidding makes for better performance than ever possible before with Broad Match. Moreover, if there is a specific keyword that has signals about a user’s previous search behavior, and if you have a specific audience segment that you know outperforms your account average, this can provide some effective and interesting targeting options.
Accounting for search intent by industry
Another very important thing that should influence your decision on which match types to use, is the industry in which you are operating. For example, if you work in a niche B2B space where searches are limited to begin with, then Broad Match makes a lot more sense than if you are in the B2C apparel space, say. The Google algorithm looks at search history and a plethora of other signals to determine intent of a given searcher, which has helped the intent targeting of Broad Match keywords improve over the years.
The Google Search platform has changed drastically over the last 2-3 years, providing marketers new ways to find cost efficiencies by consolidating data and finding intent. Broad Match helps advertisers expand reach significantly, while also making campaigns easier to manage.
However, something to keep in mind is that a well-thought-out testing framework is necessary before moving to a single match type structure. Have a clear hypothesis, and control for variance as much as possible to best understand your results.