From Broad Match to Exact Match: The Evolution of a Keyword

As previously covered on our blog, there are several options that AdWords users have at their disposal to modify their keywords in order to reach the right audience. With the broad match type, advertisers can reach a wider audience, but not necessarily the best one. With exact match, advertisers can reduce the uncertainty of reaching the wrong audience, while also lowering their average cost-per-click. Phrase match lies somewhere in between – it borrows pros and cons from both broad and exact match.

As a general rule of thumb, advertisers should start with broad match modifier to ensure keywords include only words that are relevant to his or her products and services. An example would be +running shoes. Once an initial keyword list is created, advertisers should look at their search term list (Keywords > Search Terms) to find additional keyword opportunities. Advertisers may discover search terms that are resulting in a great deal of clicks and impressions, or even those that are resulting in conversions. Here is where phrase match comes into play. Any search terms that advertisers utilize from this list should be added using phrase match. This will ensure that close variations of the search terms are accounted for. From there, keywords should eventually evolve into exact match, but with a factors in mind:

  • Only high-converting keywords or those with a very low CPC/high CTR should be added.
  • Low-performing keywords should either be modified, paused or deleted completely

With exact match, you are choosing to show ads for keywords that have brought you much success. At this point, there should be sufficient data to indicate whether or not the keyword is ready to make the leap to exact match.

To recap, there are essentially three stages of a keyword’s lifecycle:

  1. Discovery (broad match modifier)
  2. Trial Period (phrase match)
  3. Exact Match

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