As I previously blogged here, here and here, Google’s changes to its AdWords broad term matching algorithm have caused, for some advertisers, runaway spending without a commensurate increase in conversions.
For months we tried running the excellent Search Query reports, finding bad matches, and adding corresponding negative keywords to ad groups to reduce the likelihood of future bad matches. But this was extremely time-consuming, and led to huge negative keyword lists. Worse, it was like playing “bop the weasel;” every time we ran a new Search Query report, we’d find additional new bad matches.
After much thought and discussion with other PPC mavens, we decided to take Matt Van Wagner‘s advice. We both observed that the EBM problem seemed to be most acute when the broad keyword contained fewer than three keywords. Since we rarely bid on one-word keywords, we simply stopped bidding on two-word broad match keywords.
Instead, we bid on the two phrase match variations of two-word keywords – for example, instead of bidding on the broad match version of the keyword ‘blue widgets,’ we bid on the two phrase match variations, “blue widgets” and “widgets blue.” This ensures we match for almost all relevant variations of the broad match equivalent. We’ll miss some matches we would have gotten through broad match – for example, neither of the phrase match versions will match the search term “blue sparkly widgets” – but in most cases that’s acceptable.
The result? Bad expanded matches disappeared and spending came back under control.