PPC Myths – You should NEVER use broad match keywords

Ross Miles - 17.08.2017

Debunking Commonly Held Myths about PPC Marketing – You should NEVER use broad match keywords

Having been a digital marketer for over seven years I’ve managed a fair few pay per click campaigns in my time, and run into quite few myths and misconceptions. This series of blogposts will highlight some of the most common misconceptions I regularly encounter, and why they are patently not true…

Any time I encounter a statement relating to a marketing strategy that categorically tells you to NEVER do something, I start hearing alarm bells in my head, and so should you. Good digital marketing is firmly rooted in data and the analysis thereof, and until you have the evidence in your paid search and Analytics accounts that support that statement, you shouldn’t act upon it.

Let’s start by looking at exactly what the broad match keyword is, does, and how Google recommends search marketers to use it. Google’s definition describes a broad match keyword as:

A keyword setting that allows your ad to show when someone searches for that keyword or a variation of it. The broad match keyword “bicycle bell” can cause your ad to show if someone searches for variations like “bicycle bells”, “buy a bell for a bicycle” and “bell reviews for bikes”.

  • Broad match lets a keyword trigger your ad to show whenever someone searches for that phrase, similar phrases, singular or plural forms, misspellings, synonyms, stemmings (such as floor and flooring), related searches and other relevant variations.
  • For example, when you add “hats” as a broad match keyword, you tell AdWords to try to show your ad for searches containing that term or a similar one. Your ad might show for searches on “hat”, “sun hats” and “caps”. Broad match keywords help you reach the widest audience.

The main benefit of using broad match keywords is their reach. If your campaign goal is maximum visibility to a large audience, i.e. a brand awareness campaign, then using broad match keywords makes sense for your objectives. Not all search campaigns have conversions or revenue generation as their key performance indicator (KPI), and if your campaign goal is simply the number of clicks through to a landing page, then broad match keywords are more likely to serve that goal than phrase or exact match keywords.

Secondly, as described by Google above in their definition, using broad match keywords allows synonyms and similar phrases to trigger your adverts. This becomes an invaluable source of additional keyword research and can help you to further refine and optimise your campaign. This data is found as a report in your Google AdWords account, and is known as the Search Terms Report (see image below).

AdWords Search Terms Report

Using this report you can see exactly which search phrases have been triggering your ads, and see that you may have missed some high performing search terms in your initial keyword research that can now be added to your campaign, and equally so you can identify unprofitable search terms and start adding them as negative keywords to reduce inefficient media spend. The Search Term Report data will also help you in understanding the long tail search queries people are using to find your website, which again is valuable information when expanding and refining your marketing strategy.

So, not only do broad match keywords serve a key role in outreach and brand awareness campaigns, but they also serve to provide invaluable keyword research for ongoing optimisation purposes. To say that they should never be used in a PPC campaign ignores their value in the correct circumstances, and to ignore them leaves you a poorer digital marketer.

Alternatively, you can contact Ross Miles on 01202 559559 or and arrange a free audit of your PPC account.