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The Strategy Behind Using the Broad Match Type in Google Ads

By: Abdi Morrison

Many Google advertisers view broad match as the worst kind of match type to use in an account. Since the restrictions on this match type are so relaxed, using broad match can be viewed as a waste of money, and an effective way for Google to blow through your daily budget.  

While many advertisers view broad match as a poor match type, it is not an inherently bad match type to use for your keywords. If broad match is not used effectively, then it can cost you more money than it should. However, there are some scenarios where it can work very well for your campaigns. Broad match can get you more volume for your keywords than any other match type. It can be a great way to scale your account if it’s used wisely. This article is your start to finish guide to using broad match in your Google Ads campaigns.

Before You Switch to Broad Match

In most cases, you should target your keywords with the phrase match type whenever you first launch a Google Ads campaign. High volume phrase match keywords will give you the right amount of traffic that you need for your account, without recklessly showing your ads for bad search queries. Once your account is launched, you must pay attention to your search terms report daily and exclude queries that you don’t want your ads to appear for. You should spend the first week or two trying to cultivate your negative keyword list and improving the quality of your traffic. By doing this, you are simultaneously improving the click through rates (CTR) of your ads. Once you’ve accomplished these goals, then you can consider making the switch to broad match.

Switching to Broad Match

Here are some things that you should expect to happen when targeting broad match keywords. Your costs will increase, your CTR will decrease, and conversions in your account will increase in most instances. If you’re going to make the switch to broad match, we recommend using an automated bidding strategy over a manual one. In the experiments that we’ve run, we’ve seen that when broad match combined with automated bidding works; it works very well.

We ran this broad match experiment in one of the campaigns of our account to see if we could increase the number of leads coming in. This campaign had a high CTR, so we were comfortable with a decrease in that metric if that meant we got more quality leads. We ran this experiment for 40 days, while also using the maximize conversions bidding strategy, and the results are shown below.

Selection 1 is the campaign on phrase match. Selection 2 is the campaign on broad match.

Switching your keywords to broad match will bring more clicks and impressions to your campaigns in almost every instance, but the quality of conversions may differ, especially for lead gen accounts.

Broad Match in Lead Gen Accounts

Lead quality is a major aspect of lead generation accounts and using broad match keywords may affect the quality of those leads. If you enable broad match and use an automated bidding strategy in a lead gen account, then you will open the door to potentially getting a ton of irrelevant leads. Google is good at getting leads at a low cost when it uses automated bidding, so it’ll get you the cheapest leads possible, regardless of whether they’re relevant or not.  

If you’re going to run a broad match experiment on a lead gen account, then make sure that you keep a close eye on your lead to close ratio. If you see that the number of leads that closed on your service has not dropped off, then the broad match test would be beneficial to your business. If that isn’t the case, then you should consider switching back to phrase match and re-evaluating.    

Broad Match in Ecommerce Accounts

Ecommerce accounts don’t have often have as many  problems with lead quality. When a customer makes a sale, the revenue comes in, so you don’t have to worry about the source of that conversion.

The image below is a 33-day performance comparison of one of our ecommerce accounts on broad match versus phrase match. This is an example of an ecommerce account that has benefited from targeting broad match keywords.

Selection 1 is the account on phrase match. Selection 2 is the account on broad match.

In Conclusion

Google has been encouraging advertisers to use broad match keywords as much as possible. If you look at the recommendations tab of your Google Ads account, you will likely see a recommendation telling you to “upgrade” your existing keywords to broad match. For most of the recent history of Google AdWords, broad match keyword targeting was a taboo strategy to employ. But there is no denying that Google has gotten better with utilizing this match type over the past year. Especially when it’s paired with smart bidding strategies. The broad match type can be a great ally to the success of your Google Ads account if it is used smartly. Whether running a broad match experiment improves or hurts the performance of your account, at some point it’s worth testing to find out.

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