Become an Expert in Exact Match Keywords

by Casey Walrath December 3, 2013

If you’ve used Google AdWords or Microsoft Bing Ads, by now you’ve probably encountered the concept of keyword match types. In this post, I’ll explain a little more what you can do with one of these match types, and how to use them most effectively.

There are four major keyword match types: broad match, broad match modified, phrase match, and exact match, and it’s the last one that we’re going to focus on.

Exact match keywords, which are enclosed by [brackets] in AdWords and Bing Ads, are the most specific match type. Exact matches only trigger your ad if the user types the keyword you bid on. Nothing more, nothing less (although plurals and close misspellings are also included by default).

So, how can you use exact match keywords like an expert?

Let’s pretend that you run a business called Ninja Removal USA, which specializes in removing ninja infestations from homes and businesses—a serious problem in society today, you’ll agree. We’ll investigate how you can build your ninja removal empire with exact match keywords.

1. Use Exact Match for Shorter Keywords

The shorter your keyword is, the more impressions and clicks you’re likely to get bidding on it. More clicks might not always be a good, thing, however.

For example, your ninja removal business might get a lot of conversions bidding on keywords similar to ninja removal. Suppose you also want to test whether bidding on just ninjas works.

If you use a broad or phrase match type to bid on “ninjas” or +ninjas, your ad might so show on searches ranging from I want to become a ninja to a ninja stole my cat. In other words, short keywords and broad or phrase keywords = lots of impressions that may or may not be completely irrelevant and might cost a lot of money.

Instead, you can use exact match to only bid on [ninjas]. You might write an ad that speaks to potential customers: “Problem with Ninjas? Call us To Get Rid of Them Today!”

You still don’t know if people searching ninjas are looking for ninja training or ninja removal, but at least you know they’re only searching for that one keyword, so you can find out if it’s profitable without worrying about a lot of junk searches. My general rule of thumb is that when you’re dealing with keywords that are two words or less, exact match is usually the best bet.

2. Exact Match is Best With a Wide Reach

It sounds obvious, but the more potential users you’re targeting the more search impressions you’re going to get. If Ninja Removal USA’s PPC campaigns target the entire United States, a very wide reach, that might mean thousands of searches every day. If you’re only targeting French speakers in Montpelier, Vermont, then that narrows things down quite a bit.

Wide reach can run up a lot of spend very quickly, so exact match lets you keep your targeting focused.

If you bid on [ninja removal] then your ad won’t show up if someone searches worst ninja removal ever or i don’t really want ninja removal. The flip side is, you might miss out on potentially relevant searches like get ninja removal now.

Still, if your reach is wide, exact match can help ensure focus and limit your ad spend. The reverse is also true: If your reach is narrow, use more broad modified and phrase keywords to caste a bigger net in your smaller pond.

3. Exact Match is Good for Long-Tail Keywords…To a Point

Suppose you’re bidding on the phase match keyword “ninja removal”, which will pull in any search query that includes the phrase ninja removal regardless of wht the rest is. You might find in your search query report that ninja removal in portland oregon gets multiple conversion a month.

If you create an exact match keyword for [ninja removal in portland oregon] and put it in an ad group with an ad that also proclaims “Ninja Removal in Portland, Oregon”, your ad will practically shout the poor Portlanders that your service is for them, which will lead to higher conversion rates. That’s an exact match long-tail keyword win!

In that same report you might also see that the search query ninja removal in my great aunt’s video store got a conversion last month. You could add that as an exact match keyword, but you’ll probably never see that search again, so it won’t do much good.

For the most obscure and rare long-tail keywords, the other match types will probably be more successful for the most part. Focus on long-tail searches that convert more often for exact match success.

4. Exact Match = Search Intent

The most important thing to remember with exact match keywords is that you know what the searcher typed. “Well, obviously,” you might say. but think about it: You’re in a position that any marketer would envy. You know what your customer wants! It’s as close to mind-reading as you can get!

If you find successful exact match keywords that include words like buy, get, purchase, own, or things like that, you’ve got it made.

Try to get all your top performing keywords to be exact matches, and be sure your ads respond to the customer’s intent. If [ninja removal in attic] is getting traffic then you’d better make sure your ad and your landing pages talk about ninja removal in the attic. Then make sure you actually do remove ninjas from attics and you’ve got loyal, happy customers for life.

So, armed with this knowledge of exact match keywords, you’ll be prepared to go forward bravely and free the world from the ninja menace, or whatever else you want to try. [Good Luck]!

  • PPC

Casey Walrath

Casey Walrath

Casey is an account strategist and blogging/content and IT czar here at Disruptive Advertising. When he's not cuddling up to his cardboard cutout Chewbacca, he's cuddling up with his cardboard Jar Jar Binks.

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