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Is it a Smart Idea to Use Broad Match with Smart Bidding?

Earlier this week, Google released a blog that highlighted how advertisers can grow their business by implementing broad match keywords in conjunction with their Smart Campaigns. The article pointed to how, in tandem, you can reach more relevant queries you may not have thought of before. Their new approach is to identify existing keywords that could improve performance if you switch them to broad match and they will post the notifications on the Recommendations page within your Google Ads account. Sounds great, right? Not so fast. While in theory, this approach could yield positive results for advertisers, here are a few things to consider before plunging head-first into this decision.

Quality Score of your Traffic

First, it is important to understand the quality score of your traffic before jumping on the broad match bandwagon that Google Ads is suggesting. So, what is quality score? Quality score is a metric that lets you understand the quality of your ads. Three factors comprise your quality score:

  1. Expected click-through rate
  2. Ad relevance
  3. Landing page experience

On a scale of 1-10, your keywords are rated on these three factors with 10 being the best and 1 being the lowest score.

The second thing to understand is what exactly broad match is and how it plays into your decision on whether to move forward with Google’s suggestions. Google Ads defines broad match as “Broad match lets a keyword trigger your ad to show whenever someone searches for that phrase, similar phrases, close variations of the keyword terms, related searches, and other relevant variations.”  

With broad match bringing in such a wide array of potential traffic, it decreases the likelihood of  matching the query with the most relevant ad  and landing page combination that you otherwise would get from more controlled match types. As these are critical factors in Quality Score, a degradation in these factors  will result in a higher cost-per-click (CPC).

Learning Curve

Eventually, Google may determine exactly which traffic meets your goals best through a process of trial and error. Google will need time to take the combinations of different responsive search ads and understand the value of the searches that broad match is delivering. How long will that learning curve be? This will most likely be determined by how expansive your targeting is (ex: geo-targeting, time of day your ads are running), and how expansive the broad match is. For instance, a broad match keyword ‘gifts’ will have a bigger array of searches than a broad match of ‘best gifts for men.’ The more expansive the keyword, the larger the list of queries that Google will need to sift through to determine which will consistently meet the smart bidding goals outlined in the campaign. This is one reason that more concise match types will typically perform better when combined with Smart Bidding because they are more focused.

Negative Keyword Refresher

Negative keywords give you the ability to block certain searched terms from your campaign. This ensures that your ads get in front of highly relevant customers while funneling traffic to the right keyword so that the right ad gets in front of the right person at the right moment. Simple enough, eh?

Before you move forward with broad match keywords, you should first ensure you are protecting yourself from the most irrelevant searches that might match your keywords. Any negative you are already using should be applied to this campaign. Also, use the keyword planner to drop in the new broad match keywords you want to build and see what Google kicks out. Identify keyword ideas that do not align with your account and add those as negatives too.

Take a Compromised Approach

How do you deal with this conundrum? We suggest that rather than making broad match your strategy everywhere, keep your existing exact, phrase or broad match modifier (BMM) structure and integrate a single campaign that utilizes broad match, where you have more control over budgets and traffic. Combining Smart Bidding with broad match will act as a means of discovering new keyword ideas, without completely opening an advertiser up to all the possibilities that broad match would otherwise bring in. In essence, it should be a more qualified broad match (somewhere in between BMM and broad match without Smart Bidding).  And don’t forget that if you are looking for new keyword ideas, Dynamic Search Ads have been a great source for that for years!

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