Keywords – The Tree of Life For Digital Advertising


Keywords for Digital Advertising | A Finger Pointing at A Keyboard

When I started in digital marketing 7 years ago, I had no clue what PPC was but thought it would be interesting to learn. It was explained to me that a digital ads account was kind of like a tree, a trunk, branches, and leaves. The tree itself would be the client’s account, a campaign represented the tree trunk, the branches were the ad groups in the campaign, and the leaves were represented by the keywords in each ad group. Simple enough to understand, not much you can change here.

There are five main keyword match types available, broad match, modified broad match, phrase match, exact match, and negative keywords. The four keyword match types are used at the ad group level, but negative keywords can be used at the ad group level, campaign level, and account level.

You could say keywords are the life of a digital ads account, they put the ads of the account in front of users searching for products and services. The different types of keywords all work towards that end but they differ in how they are used.

Over the years Google has altered the use of each keyword type to include “variations” and “similarities” of keywords. Variations of keywords include both singular and plural forms keywords. So if a user enters a search term for “blue cars” it could trigger the keyword “blue car”, or vice versa. Keyword similarities include words that have the same meaning as, but not a variation, of a keyword. If your keyword phrase is “lawn mowing service”, a possible search phrase entered by a user that could trigger the keyword would be “grass mowing service”

Broad Match

Digital Advertising Keywords | Hand with virtual floating Letters and Magnifying GlassThese keywords are the most general-level keywords. Whether your keyword is one word or a string of words, with a broad match keyword as long as any, but not all, of the words, are somewhere in the users’ search term, it has the opportunity to trigger an ad. This is a good way to build your keyword base because of the large amount of traffic they can generate. You will also find a good list of negative keywords to help eliminate bad traffic, more on that in a bit. Because of the generality, some word combinations will be considered duplicates. An example would be “blue shoes” and “shoes blue”, and the one with the higher Ad Rank will be used. Even though all your similar keywords may be eligible to run, you will only have one in an ad auction.

Digital ads account is like a tree. The tree itself is the client’s account, a campaign represented the tree trunk, the branches were the ad groups in the campaign, and the leaves were represented by the keywords in each ad group Click To Tweet

Phrase Match

These keywords are recognized by having quotation marks on either side of the word string. Ads are triggered when the keyword phrase is included within a user’s search term or close variants, singular or plural of some words. If you use the keyword “new car” your ads would potentially with the following search terms:

• new car
• new cars near me
• red new cars

But the following search terms would not trigger ads:

• new and old car sales near me
• new blue car for sale

Exact Match

Exact Match Keywords | Hand Holding a Perfect Match Puzzle With Sky BackgroundThese keywords are where we see the biggest change from the original intent for use. This originally would only trigger an ad if the user entered the exact phrase as the keyword. Now, it can be a singular/plural variation. Or maybe have a similar meaning, which is about as far from its origins as you can get. If your keyword was “shoes for men” ads could be triggered if the user entered a search term such as:

• shoes for men
• shoes men
• men shoes

But not for:

• mens tennis shoes
• shoes for boys

Keywords can bring users to your site that are interested in the products you are selling. But they can also bring users that are looking for something not related to your product or service, but the search term they used was close enough to one of your keywords that Google felt they should see one of your ads. This is partial because of the multiple meanings for words that can cross markets. This is where negative keywords come into play.

Negative Keywords

These keywords are used to exclude ads from showing for search with that term. It is also different from keywords in that they do not respond to variations or similarities. You can use an exact match for an entire search term, or a phrase match portion of the search term.

If you are selling drinking glasses and you have the traffic coming in from users searching for eyeglasses. You would use the phrase match “eyeglasses” to block search terms such as:

• designer eyeglasses
• bifocal glasses

Broad Match Modified Keywords

Broad March Modified keywords are being phased out. Leave it to Google to throw a wrench into the works when the system works just fine.

Keywords for Digital Marketing | Pink KeyIn February of this year, Google Ads started incorporating the behaviors of broad match modified keywords and phrase match keywords. Starting in July 2021, advertisers won’t be able to add new broad match modified keywords, but they can still use those enabled in accounts. Google is suggesting that the use of broad match keywords be used to make up for the drop in traffic by not using the modified versions.
There are mixed reactions within the digital advertising community. Some say Google is taking away vital data for them to properly run their accounts, while others see the two-match types are closely related and won’t make enough of a difference to be concerned about.

On the supporting side of the discussion. The majority of broad match-modified keywords have the “+” in front of every keyword. which essentially makes it perform similarly enough to a phrase match keyword. By eliminating the modified version, it will save time in optimizing campaigns.

One downside to the change is phrase match keywords used to strictly follow word order, without regard to the meaning. But now, as long as terms in a search phrase imply the same meaning, an ad will be available to be shown to the user.

We, as digital advertisers, will have our personal opinions of Google’s changes but have to adapt our processes to help improve our client’s account performance.

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