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Part I: How To Increase PPC Conversions With Broad Match Keywords

Xavier Mantica

3 years ago



When it comes to broad match modifiers, the rules are changing. There are a few things to know as these changes roll-out, including how you can optimize these updates to your advantage and actually increase PPC conversions.

Google recently announced that to simplify keyword portfolios and facilitate reach to relevant user searches, it would phase out BMM, and phrase matches will behave like BMM from now on.

Since February 18th, Google advertisers have had to navigate the new phrase match’s uncharted waters without the use of BMM (or partial BMM) anymore. However, these changes come with improvements to broad match and changes to Google’s keyword selection process.

By July 2021, phrase match behavior updates will be reflected across all languages, preventing advertisers from creating new BMM keywords (but any legacy BMM keywords will still work).

By eliminating BMM, it’s clear that Google intends to increase the use of regular broad matches instead of BMM, likely because broad match gets Google more clicks than BMM, which is safer and more restrictive. As shown by their most recent updates, Google wants more automation and less user control.

As a best practice, we have generally avoided broad match over the last few years. We have audited hundreds of campaigns, and the most common mistake we often flag is the misuse of broad keywords, which leads to highly irrelevant clicks and wasted ad spend.

In case you are getting started with PPC, what happens when you use keywords in full broad-match type is that Google will serve ads to any query the system thinks is related to your keyword.

The results can be disastrous.

For example, if you use the keyword roofing companies in plain broad, your ad could show for completely irrelevant queries such as used roof raffs, gutters near me, or house painters.

You can waste hundreds, if not thousands of dollars of your advertising budget, in irrelevant clicks because you misused broad-match keywords.

This reason is why most experienced PPC managers hold the rule to never add keywords to campaigns that do not contain either a plus sign (+keyword), quotation marks (“keyword”), or brackets ([keyword]).

I know I’m not breaking any news here to any PPC managers or anyone with even essential experience in Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising campaigns. This post is not a tutorial on keyword-match types.

That said, it’s relatively common that most PPC managers will have a combination of exact, phrase, and broad match modified keywords in their campaigns, while plain broad keywords are seldom used in order to gain the best user intent and therefore increase PPC conversions.

But what if I told you that plain broad keywords not only have a place in most Google Ads accounts, but that they can help you increase the volume of traffic, lower your cost per click, increase PPC conversions and, wait for it…decrease your cost per conversion. Yes!

Before you send me all kinds of angry emails and negative comments on LinkedIn to tell me how much of an idiot I am, hear me out.

Plain broad keywords get a bad rap because no one has been taught how to avoid the pitfalls and common mistakes, and are unaware of best practices. If you use them correctly, the results can be shockingly good.

See this example of one of our accounts in the septic service industry:

CPC chart

Notice that by using only broad match keywords and a very small budget, we were able to obtain 17 conversions for a significantly lower avg. CPC and cost/conversion (even lower than the Branded campaign), while maintaining a high search impression share.

Here is another example of a B2B client with a small budget:

CPC chart

And finally a third account in the health industry:

CPC conversion chart

In the past few months, I’ve been experimenting with broad match keywords after Google published this blog asking advertisers to give broad match another shot, especially in combination with Smart Bidding.

Google has been heavily pushing for the adoption of Smart Bidding for several years now, and this post to me read to me like another attempt to convince those that haven’t taken the leap to give Smart Bidding a shot. I’m not against Smart Bidding, but I’m not ready to give up on Manual CPC just yet, especially when it comes to broad keywords (more on that later.)

In some ways, Google’s post is somewhat irresponsible because it does not provide any instructions or best practices for how to use broad match keywords the right way. Regardless of Smart Bidding, if you use broad keywords incorrectly, it won’t make a difference if you are using Manual CPC or Maximize Conversions. The result will be the same: a huge waste of money.

Then Why Use Plain Broad Keywords?

You may be wondering why plain broads would work in the first place. Isn’t PPC all about precision and targeting the right users? In some ways, yes. We want to show the right users the right ad, on the right location, at the right time.

But what do you do when your perfect strategy fails? We’ve all been there. You think you have eliminated all variables, you have the perfect keywords and strategy and then…nothing works. Your keywords are not converting, you’ve tried everything and nothing seems to get you leads.

Desperate times sometimes call for desperate measures, and that is where broad match keywords can come in to save the day.

If your Google Ads account has been struggling to get conversions, or you are in a position in which you need to get more traffic, but can’t expand on locations, schedule, services or campaign types, broad keywords may be worth giving a shot.

Before moving on, while we have seen great success trying broad-match keywords in recent weeks, I still don’t want to give any guarantees. I do not promise that this will improve your campaigns and lead to more PPC conversions and lower cost per conversion. Every account is different. What works for one account in a specific industry, targeting a specific location may not apply at all to a similar account in a different market.

So if you are happy with your account’s performance don’t feel the need to make any big changes, I would say there’s no reason for you to change what you are doing.

That said, if you are in need of generating more traffic, are desperate to get more PPC conversions, or just need to give your account a serious shake-up, continue along.