Part II: How To Increase PPC Conversions With Broad Match Keywords
Click here to read the first part of how to increase your PPC conversions with broad match keywords.
I will share with you 5 tips for using full broad keywords effectively within your PPC management tool. Make sure you follow all of these tips carefully. Using broad keywords incorrectly could lead to you potentially ruining your campaigns. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
5 Tips for Using Plain Broads Effectively
1. Put them in a Separate Ad Group or Campaign
You don’t want to mix your existing keywords with broad matches unless you want to throw a massive wrench into your campaign. Broad matches will cannibalize all the traffic from your good keywords, which could lead to a huge drop in conversions if your broad match keywords don’t convert. So step number one will be to either create a new campaign so you can allocate enough budget to run this experiment, or if your budget is tight, put the broad keyword in the same campaign but within its own ad group. Make sure to name the ad group or campaign something different within your PPC management tool to identify that the new campaign contains only broad keywords.
Besides being able to better control how much you spend on broad keywords, another reason you want to keep broad keywords separate is because you want to protect your BMM, phrase and exact match keywords so they continue to get the traffic that they are supposed to receive. In other words, we want to prevent the broad keywords from stealing away clicks from your main keywords. This means that you should add all of your main keywords as exact match negative keywords at the campaign level if you create a new campaign, or at the ad group level if you create a new ad group.
And speaking of negative keywords…
2. Build a Strong and Industry-Specific Negative Keyword List
Before you even begin to create your ad groups and keywords, you need to put a lot of work researching negative keywords. If this is a national campaign, you may need to forget about using broad-match altogether because the negative keyword list could be endless (this will depend on the industry). For local campaigns, your homework will involve researching potentially irrelevant search terms and crucially – competitors.
As an example, if you are a roofing company, you need to go on Yelp, Google My Business, maybe even open a real Yellow Pages book (gasp!) and add every single roofing company in the area to your list. If you don’t do this, your broad match keywords will show your PPC ads when someone searches for any local roofing company.
If you don’t want to be burned, then build a large negative keyword list that includes as many roofing companies as you can find, and any other unrelated words for services or products you may not offer (cleaning, painting, gutters, solar panels, etc.) I would also recommend implementing our Ultimate Negative keyword list.
Another thing to consider is that back in September 2020, Google made negative keyword mining more difficult by limiting the number of search terms you can actually see in the search terms report. This is why it’s more important than ever to proactively create a strong negative keyword list within your ppc management tool to exclude any potentially irrelevant traffic that you may not even be able to see.
Once you are done with negative keywords, you can start working on your ad groups. Try to keep things simple since this is essentially an experiment. I would recommend creating only 2 or 3 ad groups to start.
That said, when it comes to selecting the broad keywords, there is one rule you must follow:
3. Use Long-Tail Keywords Only
Try to make sure your broad match keywords are at least 4 words or more. If traffic is low, then 3 should be the bare minimum.
Because the longer the keyword, the more information the system has. This makes it less likely that it will misinterpret the meaning of the keyword and show your ads for something irrelevant. Following the same example, using the keyword roofing companies in plain broad can lead to too many synonyms and/or related services that are likely irrelevant to your business. But if you use the keyword best roofing companies in houston, then the intent behind the keyword is extremely clear.
Longer keywords essentially become a short phrase. The system gets a better understanding of the keyword’s intent, and if your PPC ads and landing page are relevant, then you could also see better quality scores, which means a lower cost per click.
This approach actually works best with plain broad keywords because if you try this in exact, phrase or BMM, oftentimes you will find that the keyword status will be Low Search Volume, which means Google will not show the keyword at all. (Note: you may still get Low Search Volume for broad match keywords. In that case, try another variation or consider something shorter. You could try 3 words if you can’t find any traffic with 4 word keywords.)
Therefore, when choosing your keywords, think of short phrases or questions. Try to add locations and adjectives into your keywords. These days, more people are searching using their voice with Siri or Google Assistant, so think of common questions like where to find a roofer, or who does roofing in my area to try them out as keywords.
4. Use Manual CPC
Yes, I know Google recommends Smart Bidding with broad keywords, but there is one problem with that. What if it doesn’t work? What if you followed all the tips and still got a ton of irrelevant traffic, and paid with ridiculously high CPCs?
Let’s not beat around the bush.
The biggest problem with Smart Bidding is that it can inflate your cost per click to astronomical levels. For industries with a high CPC such as legal, Maximize Conversions is essentially banned in our agency because it can result in clicks that go into the hundreds of dollars. Yes, there’s a chance it might lead to a conversion, but oftentimes it does not, and you may have spent your entire daily budget on a single click that may not even turn into a case for your business.
Let’s keep it safe and stick to Manual CPC (not Enhanced!).
But here’s the important part: Do not set the same bids you have for BMMs, Phrase and Exact-match keywords in your other campaigns.
Remember that using broad-match keywords is risky. Even with a strong negative keyword list and long-tail keywords listed in your PPC management tool, there may still be irrelevant terms you haven’t considered and you will need to keep a close eye on the search terms report to continue to add negative keywords. We want to reduce the risk to a minimum and we want to be extremely careful. Therefore, you should keep bids for broad keywords as low as they can possibly be at first.
So how do you decide what to bid? Use your current avg. CPC as reference and start bidding a fourth or a third of that.
As an example, if the avg. CPC for the keywords in your main campaign is $10 in the last 30 days, then for broad keywords you want to set your Max CPC somewhere between $2.50 and $3.50.
By bidding low, you may find that some keywords end up the “Below First Page Bid” status. Resist the temptation to increase your bids and ignore Google for now. It shouldn’t matter that the keywords are below the first page bid because our goal is not to be in the first position or even to be in the first page. Our goal is to get low cost clicks and low-cost conversions, regardless of ad position.
If you are getting impressions and clicks while below the first page, then you are fine. You don’t need to raise your bids too high. But if you have zero impressions after at least 12 hours, then you can begin to raise your bids slowly, in increments of 10% every few hours until you start to get impressions.
Also, Google’s Recommendations will suggest you turn on Maximize Conversions or Target CPA almost immediately after launching the campaign. Again, resist the temptation. You should only consider switching to Smart Bidding after a long period of sustained performance, meaning you are receiving conversions consistently with a low cost/conversion.
This leads us to the last step which is…
5. Review Your Search Terms Often
And by often, I mean every single day, set aside some time at the end of every day to review your search terms. If you missed a competitor or an irrelevant service, it will definitely come up in your search terms report and you will want to add it as a negative keyword.
If you open up your PPC management tool and find that you have received conversions and the numbers are looking good, don’t celebrate just yet. Check the search terms to see if the conversions were qualified leads or not and proceed to exclude any irrelevant traffic that could have led to a PPC conversion.
The other side of reviewing the search terms report is that you will discover new keyword ideas, or variations that had never occurred to you before. This is a perfect opportunity to add those variations to your other campaigns in exact, phrase or BMM match types, or consider new broad match keywords for your new campaign. This way, broad match keywords can breathe new life into your old and stagnant campaigns as well.
Don’t get discouraged if things don’t go well right away. Conversely, don’t think that because you got good results in one week that you will sustain an increase in PPC conversions.
The thing about broad match keywords is that they are very unpredictable. Give it some time and run this experiment for several months. You may see performance very up and down but over time it may balance out. If things are not going well, consider some of these changes:
- Try lowering your bids even more to reduce the risk.
- Pause keywords that are leading to too much irrelevant traffic and try adding new variations.
- Consider partial broad match keywords (put a plus sign on one or two words).
Tip: If you want to test this strategy out on a very small scale, consider making a single keyword ad group with just one full broad keyword and follow the rest of the tips.