This is part two of a two-part series. Start here if you have a handle on SEM basics and want to learn more about key word match options, targeting, and more. If you need to start at square one, then head over to part one of this series.

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Let’s dive in.  

What are keyword matching options?

Now that you know what keywords are in the world of paid search, it’s important to understand how you can use keyword match types to control which types of searches can trigger your ad. Google has four types of keyword matching options:

  1. Broad match: It’s very important to note that this is the default match type for all keywords. If you use broad match, your ad can appear when a user searches for synonyms, related searches, misspellings, and other variations (which are determined by Google). While broad match sounds like a good deal (you can capture a wide audience!), use it very carefully, as it can get expensive fast. Because broad match is set up to reach a wide audience, your ad can appear for semi and totally irrelevant searches, which means you will likely end up paying for irrelevant clicks.
  2. Broad match modifier: This keyword match type still allows you to reach a broad audience but adds more specificity than the broad match type. With broad match modifier, your ads will only show up in searches that included your “locked” keywords. You can lock keywords in place by adding a plus sign in front of them. For example, if you want to advertise blue Nike shoes, then you can lock +blue +Nike as your keywords. Doing that means your ad will appear when people search for “blue Nike shoes” or “kids blue Nike shoes”, but not “blue Adidas” or “red Nike”.
  3. Phrase match: This keyword match type allows you even more control over which searches your ad appears alongside. Using phrase match means that your ad will appear when users search for your keywords in the exact order you’ve specified, but there might be additional words before or after your phrase. To use phrase match, add quotes around your keyword phrase. In practice, if you’re selling “blue Nike shoes”, your ad can appear when users search for “buy blue Nike shoes cheap” or “women’s blue Nike shoes”, but not “blue Nike Solar shoes” or “blue men’s Nike shoes”. Keep in mind that Google might also display your ad for close variations on your phrase, which can include misspellings, singular and plural forms, acronyms, abbreviations, and accents.
  4. Exact match: As you probably guessed, this is the most restrictive keyword match type. When you use exact match, your ads will appear only in searches that include your exact keywords and close variations on your keyword. Meaning, your ad can appear when users search for your exact keywords and a reordering of words if it doesn’t change the meaning, keywords including or excluding prepositions, conjunctions, articles, and other words that don’t change the meaning of the search, implied words, synonyms and paraphrases, and words that have the same search intent (as defined by Google). To use exact match, add your keywords in brackets: [blue Nike shoes].

chart showing keyword match types

Advanced tip: To start creating ultra-specific ad groups, start by using only one keyword phrase and using it with broad match modifier, phrase match, and exact match. which will look like this:

  • +blue +Nike +shoes
  • “blue Nike shoes”
  • [blue Nike shoes]

Then create ads and landing pages that directly incorporate your keywords—that will ensure that your ads and landing pages are highly targeted towards your keywords.

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What is a Google Quality Score?

When it comes to Google Ads, Quality Score is incredibly important to the success of your campaigns and the cost you pay per click. Google determines your Quality Score by taking three factors into consideration:

  • Expected click through rate: How likely it is that your ads will be clicked, based on the past performance of your ads and its position in search results.
  • Ad relevance: How closely your ads are related to your target keywords
  • Landing page experience: How relevant, useful, and useable your landing page is to people who clicked your ad 

Quality Score is measured from 1-10, where one is the worst score and ten is the best. If your Quality Score is high, then you can get a discount on your cost-per-click (CPC), meaning Google gives higher quality ads a better deal on clicks. On the other hand, if you have a low Quality Score, your CPC will be higher.

Google has given examples in the past of what a high Quality Score experience looks like:

Let's say that you own a website that specializes in socks, and Sam, a customer, is looking for striped socks. Here’s how your ad (and high Quality Score keywords) connects Sam with what he wants.

  • When Sam searches Google for “men’s striped socks,” he sees your ad. (Your ad has “[striped socks]” as a keyword.)
  • Sam clicks the ad and lands right on your website’s “striped men’s socks” page. The page loads quickly and is easy for Sam to use.
  • Sam buys several pairs of striped socks.

That's what we consider a great user experience. Beyond a potentially higher Quality Score in most cases, relevant ads tend to earn more clicks, appear in a higher position, and bring you the most success.

What are ad extensions?

Ad extensions enrich your ad with more options and information, making your ad more appealing to users. Extensions also take up more space, making your ad more noticeable. There are two categories of extensions: those that Google adds automatically (automated) and those you have to add yourself (manual). Types of extensions include:

Manual:

  • App: Mobile app download button
  • Affiliate location: Shows chain locations for retail/restaurants
  • Call: Clickable extensions that dial your phone number
  • Callout: These look just like sitelinks but aren’t clickable. They add another layer of information.
  • Location: Show your address and opening hours
  • Message: Clickable text message extensions
  • Price: Transparent product pricing
  • Promotion: Deals, sales, or coupons
  • Sitelinks: Additional links you can add to your ad
  • Structured snippets: Additional lines of text that highlight key benefits

Automated

  • Automated call: Clickable phone number display, if your business goals are for people to call you
  • Automated message: Clickable text message, if your business goals are for people to message you
  • Automated sitelink: Links to deeper pages on your website like your menu, opening hours, etc.
  • Automated location: Your address and opening hours
  • Dynamic callout: Content Google pulls that it deems helpful to users like number of satisfied customers, free delivery, etc.
  • Previous visit: Tells the user if they have previously visited this page
  • Customer ratings: Reviews and ratings from Google

Below is an examples of what extensions can look like in an ad. 

 

  Screenshot showing search results with reviews, callout, and sitelink ad extensions

According to Google, “Ad extensions increase an ad’s click-through-rate by several percentage points.” Not to mention using ad extensions is free, so they’re a good way to increase your CTR. However, as with all things Google Ads, make sure the extensions you use are highly relevant to your ad and business goals. Tailor your extensions to each ad or ad group, then make sure your ad copy reflects your extension goals (e.g. if you add a call extension, mention ‘give us a call’ or something similar in your ad copy).

What are your targeting options?

Google search ads offers a few different audience targeting parameters. Using these helps further narrow down your target visitors beyond the keywords they search for. Google allows you to target your audience based on the following criteria:

  • In-market: With this targeting option, Google allows you to reach an audience that is in the process of researching or close to buying a product/service like yours.
  • Remarketing: Target users who have previously watched your videos, visited your site, used your app, or given you their contact information.
  • Customer match: This targeting option lets you reengage with existing customers. You can, for example, upload a customer list and target them with search ads for a new product offering. It’s an incredibly powerful option to reach your customers on multiple channels.
  • Similar audiences: You can target users with similar search behavior as those from your remarketing lists—giving you a fresh audience with behavior that indicates they might like your products/services.
  • Demographics: You can now target audiences based on their age and gender, which can be quite powerful for some industries (e.g. retirement services, beauty products, etc.)
  • Location: You can target users in a specific country, areas within a country, or a given radius (think local businesses or even event locations like sports stadiums)

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Key takeaways

We know diving into paid search can be overwhelming—so much so that it’s tempting to just accept Google’s standard recommendations and settings. But if you can persevere and set up keyword matching, targeting, and ad extensions that really speak to your business goals, you’ll see a much better ROI on your ad spend.