In a previous column, I addressed the challenges paid search advertising can present to industrial manufacturers who sell capabilities versus stock products.
Another challenge is the AdWords help files themselves. As an advertising platform, AdWords is geared more to retailers — when a platform uses common retail products to illustrate keyword strategies, it’s often hard to see how the example relates to keywords for complex manufacturing capabilities.
For example, under Basic Tips for Building a Keyword List, AdWords uses the example of men’s shoes:
If you’re a manufacturer offering a capability or products manufactured to engineers’ specifications for use in unique applications, it can be tough to come up with multiple basic categories if you’re thinking in terms of clothing items. “Well,” you might think, “we make precision machined parts,” or, “we electropolish stainless steel parts. I can’t think of another category.”
This confusion then carries over into keyword match type. “If you sell hats,” says one of the help files, then adding a “+women’s hats” will ensure your ads get shown.
“Errrr… but we do machining,” you’re thinking. “How do these matching options apply to us?”
Keyword match types — the “don’t hurt my brain” version
When you input your keywords into AdWords, you need to select the keyword match type: Broad, Modified Broad, Phrase, or Exact.
Keyword match types help control how Google searches will trigger your ads. If you match too broadly, your ads may get triggered by irrelevant searches, which can lead to costly non-converting clicks.
Match too tightly, and your ads may not trigger at all because of the dreaded “low search volume” message.
To facilitate understanding of match types for manufacturers just starting out in AdWords, I’ve used the analogy of print media advertising in the following examples. (PPC pros will know I’m taking some liberties using this analogy. But while it’s not perfect, it does communicate the main idea.)
All examples used are for illustrative purposes only. My agency has no relationship with any of the companies shown in the screenshots.
1. Broad match
Broad match is the default match type, and with it, you reach the widest audience. With Broad Match, your ad may appear when a user’s search query includes any word in your key phrase, in any order, along with variations of it — which you can see in Figure 1 for the search phrase “metal stamping.”
Notice how the second ad reads, “Stamp your own jewelry & metal,” while the third ad is for metal stamp kits from Amazon.
Using the print media analogy, Broad Match is the equivalent of putting an ad in the front section of a major urban newspaper, such as the Boston Globe. You’re reaching a wide audience with little segmentation.
2. Modified broad match
Let’s say your company makes die-cut metal parts. To segment your audience by application type, you can use modified broad match by placing a “+” sign in front of die-cut. Your keyword match would look like this: +die-cut metal stamping. The “+” sign tells Google to show your ads for broad match queries that include “metal stamping” plus this differentiator (Figure 2).
Modified broad match allows you to segment your audience while still keeping relatively high impression volumes (important if you’re also trying to build exposure for your company and its capabilities).
In print media, the equivalent of this type of matching would be placing an ad in the business section of the Boston Globe or in a trade publication the reaches multiple audience types. You still have broad reach, but you’re narrowing your audience.
3. Phrase match
Phrase match gives a higher level of control. When you add quotation marks to a keyword, you’re telling Google to show your ads for a phrase – including close variations and any words before or after the phrase.
For example, a company that makes machined or milled parts for aerospace applications could use the phrase match “machining aerospace.” Someone doing a search for “custom machining shops aerospace” might see the result in Figure 3.
The print media analogy here would be running your ad in a special tech section of a trade publication. You’re narrowing your reach but getting more targeted.
4. Exact match
Exact match is the most restrictive match type. As the name suggests, your ad will only show if the user’s search query contains the exact keyword phrase or close variations thereof.
Unless you’re in a well-known industry, an exact match strategy can be tough for industrial manufacturers because it is so restrictive – and the search volumes very low for many esoteric keywords.
The analogy for exact match would be running your ad in a niche publication that targets your audience exactly — such as a tradeshow directory.
By clearly understanding the types of keyword matches in AdWords and how they work, you’ll achieve three things.
One, you’ll save a lot of money — because if you’ve read this carefully, you’ll know that “broad match” can quickly eat through your budget, just as it would if you advertised in your region’s newspaper.
Two, when you read through Google’s help files, you’ll have a better understanding of the concepts being communicated about keyword match types. Instead of clothing types, think industry or application type, for example. With AdWords, you want to balance getting impression share (and thus more clicks) with reaching your target audience through careful modified broad match and phrase match options.
And three, as you gain clarity, you’ll have more confidence to test match types to see what works for you.
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