I love to teach using analogies. I do this because they make unfamiliar concepts familiar. They are also memorable. It’s no surprise that Steve Jobs used analogies to introduce Apple products to the market. Or to learn that Ford Motor’s assembly line was conceived through analogous thinking. A foreman called Bill Klann visited a Chicago slaughterhouse and witnessed first hand the wonder of mechanized operations and specialisation. He then relayed this visual story back to Henry Ford who then transformed how Ford cars were made. The motor industry changed forever.

In my last post, I argued that all successful businesses should see themselves as digital land-grabbers and do Search Engine Marketing like latter-day imperialists. I introduced a formula, called the ‘land-grabbing formula’, that I used whilst working at Google to identify keywords that are worth conquering.

This is the second part of our Teaching Via Analogy series.

Having provided a method for identifying which keywords to go after, I’ll now show you some tactics for how to grab them using Google AdWords. In industry parlance, you will learn how to nail your Keyword Match Type strategy (by being a great fisherman) and how to think about the search journey (by being like Jose Mourinho).

What is Google AdWords?

Google AdWords is Google’s advertising solution that sits within their search engine (that’s why it’s called Search Engine Marketing or an SEM solution). When used correctly, it is the most powerful advertising tool on the planet as it enables an advertiser to display a relevant ad when someone is searching for their product or service. A user on a search engine is displaying maximum-intent in being fully engaged and seeking your business out. Its effectiveness is why Google continues to makes a ton of money ($16.5 billion every three months at the last count).

AdWords is an auction-based system. Advertisers bid on a set of Keywords. If these Keywords match a user’s Search Query then their ad is displayed. If the user then clicks on the ad, they are taken to the advertiser’s website. The advertiser is only charged when someone clicks on their ad.

An advertiser’s objective is to have his or her ad display at the top of Google as that means more eyeballs (impressions) and therefore more clicks to their website. But it’s not just price that determines how high up an ad is displayed. There’s a vital ingredient called Quality Score which hugely impacts your AdRank. If you increase your Quality Score, you get a higher AdRank at no additional cost. This means the price you end up paying for each click (your Cost per Click) is drastically reduced.

[This idea of price as being the sole determinant of where you are in Google’s AdRank is one of many common misconceptions I break on our Understand Google course].

To understand Quality Score, it’s very important to grasp the difference between a Keyword and a Search Query. Let’s say I run a sports store and want to sell tennis balls online. I decide to bid for the Keyword ‘tennis balls’. If a user types ‘buy fast tennis balls’ into Google, my ad will display (assuming I have placed a competitive bid on the keyword).

My Keyword is ‘tennis balls’ and my Search Query is ‘buy fast tennis balls’. But this isn’t as precise as it could be. Your aim, in the long run, is to have the closest match between your Keywords and users’ Search Queries to maximise Quality Score and therefore reduce your Cost Per Click.

To improve the match between Keywords and Search Queries, we need to look at Keyword Match Types. And to do that, we need to go fishing …

Goin’ fishing with Keyword Match Types

You’re probably wondering what the heck fishing has to do with Match Types, Quality Score and Cost Per Clicks.

The answer is … more than you think. And next time your grandfather asks you to put your wellies on and march knee deep into a freezing river before the sun rises, thank him.  Although he won’t know it, he’s improving your knowledge of the digital economy (ed: apologies – that’s taking the fishing analogy too far).

So we’ve established that to improve Quality Score you need to have a close match between your Keywords and a user’s Search Query. But this can only be the long term aim. First we need to identify which search queries people are using and then capture these as Keywords. By following this process, you’ll make the match between Keyword and Search Queries better over time.

To do this, you need to understand the three different Keyword Match Types. Let’s continue to use the Keyword ‘tennis balls’ to explain.

What is Broad Match?

Broad Match is the vaguest type of Keyword. It includes “misspellings, synonyms, related searches and other relevant variations”. Broad Match Keywords are expressed with no notation. It’s just words in their pure form. So a Broad Match version of ‘tennis balls’ would be:

tennis balls

What is Phrase Match?

Phrase Match is more specific than Broad Match and is denoted by speech commas either side of the word. Phrase Match Keywords are triggered when a user searches for the phrase, or close variations of the phrase. So both words, or their variants, must appear in the Search Query. Words can sit before or after the phrase in the Search Query but can not intersect the phrase. So a Phrase Match version of ‘tennis balls’ would be

“tennis balls”

This Keyword would be triggered if a user searched for ‘buy tennis balls’ or ‘tennis balls for sale’ but would not trigger if you searched for ‘tennis sale balls’ (ed: you’d be surprised at how people search for things).

What is Exact Match?

Exact Match is the most specific Match Type, and as the name suggests, means that the Keyword must exactly match the Search Query for the ad to display. It is denoted by square brackets. So an Exact Match version of ‘tennis balls’ would be

[tennis balls]

Only the Search Query ‘tennis balls’ would trigger the Exact Match keyword.

Keyword Match Type strategy like fishing

Just like a fisherman casts his net wide, a business should use Broad and Phrase Match Keywords at the start to identify the Search Queries that are worth making Exact and then, over time, add these into a separate Ad Group and bid aggressively on them. These are your treasured lands and by adding these terms as Exact Match keywords, you will maximise your Quality Score and generate quality traffic at the best possible Cost Per Click.

“You should move from fishing with nets to fishing with lines once you know what people are searching for.”

In our next blog we will explain Quality Score in more detail. By now though, you should know how important Match Types are and be able to think about Keywords through the analogy of fishing with nets and then lines.

Another Keyword Match Type strategy that the brainy gang at Brainlabs London PPC agency employ is 1 x Exact Match campaign alongside a 1 x Broad Match Modifier campaign with Exact Match negatives. That’s two campaigns fishing for the same search query content, just using net and lines. I’ll let Daniel Gilbert, ex-Google AdWords scientist extraordinaire explain.

When setting up AdWords campaigns you always start with keywords. There are certain keywords that you already know will be relevant to the business. If I’m a travel agent selling holidays to Turkey then [turkey holidays] is a good starting point. With that keyword (amongst others) you can use keyword research tools like AdWords Keyword Planner to come up with other relevant variations of this term that have had significant volume in the past. Our process entails adding all of these relevant keywords as exact match keywords and creating relevant ads for them.

But that’s not quite enough. If approximately 25% of queries are new then we need to fish for some of these ‘new queries’ that might be relevant. Back to the turkey holidays example, if someone searches for [book an expensive family holiday to Turkey right now for my family of 25] then we definitely want to target that person with an ad. At Brainlabs we do this by copying all of our Exact match campaigns into Broad Match Modifier campaigns, and then adding the Exact keywords as exact negatives to the Broad campaigns. That sounds a bit roundabout but should be clear with an example.

Exact Campaign: [turkey holidays]

Broad Campaign: +turkey +holidays
– [turkey holidays]

So our broad campaign will be fishing for new variations of turkish holidays without interfering with our Exact campaign. Then we can focus our AdWords attention in the right way. On the Exact campaign we’ll experiment with ads, bids, positions, etc. On the Broad campaign, we’ll keep on fishin’.

We all keep searchin’ and searchin’ and searchin’

[ed: If you’re waiting for the Jose Mourinho bit – don’t fear. It’s coming]

Another very important thing to know when it comes to developing your Keyword strategy are search funnels. This is just a fancy way of saying “you need to understand the sequence in which people search for things and then buy”.

There are three types of Search Queries.

  1. Informational queries – these often take the form of questions. For example ‘best waterproof camera’.
  2. Transactional queries – these often take the form of product queries. For example ‘1 AW1’ is a type of waterproof camera.
  3. Navigational queries – these take the form of Brand Names. For example ‘Nixon waterproof cameras’.

What typically happens in a search funnel is a user begins with an informational query. They do some digging around on product forums and find a specific model. They then search again for that model (transactional query). Three days later they then search for that brand (navigational/brand search) and then buy.

Why is this important to know?

If you ignore what happens at the start of a user’s search sequence (or to use industry parlance, the ‘top of the funnel’ and don’t bid on the Keyword ‘best waterproof camera’, you run the risk of losing out on business. You need to get in front of a potential customer at every point in the user’s search experience: at the informational, transactional and navigational stages.

You can get the whole picture by looking at Search Funnel reports in AdWords.

Search Engine Marketing is a team game.

The reason why so many digital marketeers get this wrong is that they look at conversion stats and only use Last Click conversions to analyse Keywords. The way that conversion tracking is reported means that it is the Keyword that is closest to the conversion (purchase) that gets the accolades (that gets attributed for the sale).

keyword search funnel

This is like giving all the praise and rewards to the striker for scoring in a football team and ignoring the goalkeeper, defenders and midfielders contributions. If you were to remove defenders and the midfielders from a football team, the striker would rarely get the ball. Just like if you ignore informational queries and focus only on navigational/brand queries, you won’t score as much.

This is the crucial difference between Last Click Conversions (strikers) and Assisted Conversions (Defenders and Midfielders).

Jose Mourinho gets this and that’s why he is a winner. He packs his midfield full of talent who are capable of scoring themselves and great at ‘assisting’ the striker in passing the ball that eventually hits the back of the net.

Now go fish and play beautiful football.

If you’re designing Google AdWords campaigns, or you are a CEO or Venture Capitalist with a material interest in your team or portfolio’s digital marketing results, you or they should go fishing and make sure to pack a net and a line. And while you or they are in the boat, get them to think like Jose Mourinho and ensure there’s talent (Keywords) across your team (users’ search journey) so that you can score a lot of goals (make money).