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Is Google making PPC look too easy?

Are you running your own PPC campaign? Has Google told you it’s as easy as 1 2 3? Even gave you £50 to start spending?

I’m shocked at how many advertisers take the bait, it really isn’t as easy as 1 2 3. I’m not saying PPC advertising is ‘rocket science’, but what I AM saying is that Google makes it look too easy. I believe businesses are wasting bucket loads of cash on Google AdWords for traffic that is NOT relevant.

The misconception that Google AdWords is still based on an auction model is blinding people. You might think when bidding for the keyword “office furniture” your ad will only show up when someone types this keyword? WRONG. The default setting within your AdWords account can also make your ad appear when someone searches for: “office design”, “cheap furniture”, “office furniture designers”, possibly even appearing for “Ricky Gervais” due to association.

Google AdWords have advanced settings to determine how accurate the connection is between; what you are bidding for and the key phrase the searcher uses, called “keyword match types”. A keyword match type is the rules the search engines use for controlling when and which ads are displayed, dependent on the search query entered by the user. The most common match types are: broad match, phrase match, exact match and negative match. The default match type is broad match.

Having all your keywords default to Broad Match means your ad can be displayed for keywords/phrases in any order or combination, with additional words. In fact, it can even be just one of the words you are bidding for and another word that is Google “associates” with the keyword you are bidding for. The real issue is the association Google makes with words, I have seen ads displayed for “Mac Air” when searching for “flights” as the words “flights” and “air” are associated. You could argue that if someone searches for “Ricky Gervais” it’s unlikely that they will click on an ad that mentions “Office Furniture” but would you like to bet money on it? That is what you are doing.

I’m not saying that “broad match” shouldn’t be used as a match type, but you should be aware of the consequences. And if doing so you should be monitoring carefully using the “Search Query Report” within AdWords to see what actual queries your ads show up for. In fact, I urge you to check your Search Query Report, right now! Go to your AdWords campaign => Reporting => Reports =>Create a New Report and then chose “Search Query Performance”. This will give you a list of all the words your ads showed up for in the previous month!

Further reading about Google AdWords advertising Pitfalls

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5 thoughts on “Is Google making PPC look too easy?

  1. Robert Nicholson

    Hi Lisa,
    Absolutely agree here, and in mode I’d actually ad that the Google Adwords rep’s dont make it easier by recomending to people that broad match is fine for 75% + of an account structure, without making the consequences clear for agencies!

    Rob Nicholson, RobBothan

  2. Barry Adams

    This situation is of course aggravated by PPC professionals/agencies that are focused on delivering clicks, not conversions. With broad matching and juicy ads you can get a boatload of clicks that are not very likely to convert.

    The problem there is that it’s not as simple as paying agencies per conversion, as often the influence of the agency doesn’t reach far enough. Crappy landing pages outside of a PPC agency’s control won’t endear them to a pay-per-lead model.

  3. Jamil Kassam

    Personally I’m not a fan of broad match at all, prefer to do a thorough keyword maximisation. It’s also worth noting that by users not clicking on your broad matched keyword, this wil result in a low CTR and subsequently negatively impact on your Quality Score.

    Gotta love those SQRS though!!