Why You Should Use [Exact Match] in Your Google AdWords Campaigns

More business owners than I would expect treat the exact match function of Google AdWords in a similar way that traditional searchers are unaware of search query shortcuts and advanced operators in the search field. I would recommend using the Exact Match keyword function in every Google AdWords campaign that a small businesses is running, no matter how valuable or high priority a particular keyword may appear to be. Here are a couple reasons why and how business owners can leverage this information.

Screenshot of an AdWords Campaign Setup

Understanding The Intent of the User
You have specific understanding of how your content resonates with the searcher, for an exact phrase. Assuming that you are tweaking your ad copy in a manner that drives effective click-thru rates and is representative of the actual landing experience, data over time will let you know how successful the content on the page falls in line with the desire of the searcher, based on the particular search query.

It can be surprising to see (in more cases than people would expect) broad or phrase match variations of a keywords can yield vastly different results, in both click-thru rates and in (more importantly) conversion rates. Exact match allows the business owner to minimize the variables associated with the testing of ad copy, landing experience and determining appropriate conversion metrics. In the end, this should lead to a better CPC for your ad campaigns, saving your business valuable financial resources long-term.

Search Impression Data
The primary reason I use and recommend an exact match keyword strategy is for understanding actual search volume associated to a particular keyword. This is the only way a small business owner will truly have data associated to keyword search volumes in Google (outside of a serious investment in analytics) – and you can have it for all of your strategic keywords (if desired).

A few key points for making certain you have the optimal settings for doing this:

  • If you are interested in Google’s Content Network, you need to create a separate campaign specific to that. Otherwise, your impression data is going to include website impressions from AdSense Partners, which will greatly inflate your numbers.
  • It’s unlikely that you have an unlimited spend, so most business owners need/should select a “standard” delivery option for ad visibility. If you want to test for actual search volume, you should select the accelerated delivery option – at least for testing – so that your ads appear all the time (until budget expires). Otherwise, Google will show your ads on an interval basis, maximizing your daily budget.

    Additional Note: Make certain to track your ad budget the day you are testing – because if it runs out, you have an understanding of the percentages of search volume on that day.

It may be necessary to create duplicate campaigns, specifically for testing search impressions, using only exact match keywords. That way, you can pause and eliminate variables that you would normally want (in traditional campaigns), but need to exclude for purposes of creating a clean environment for testing.

Extending This Idea To Real-World Business
We all do not have unlimited budgets or the time to test all of metrics, everyday. If you’ve created a campaign specific for exact match testing, here are some thoughts on how you can limit the time investment but still get good data.

  • Run the exact match campaign for one day during a week, using the existing PPC history to predict the most appropriate day (highest traffic volumes, lowest conversions etc)
  • Duplicate this strategy in random intervals over a few months, on different days to develop a pattern of information
  • Use Google’s External Keyword Tools to correlate the data you have gathered with their information on keyword trends and search impressions. Note that you can utilize Google Trends for higher volume keywords, and Google’s keyword tools for a broad level understanding of lower volume keyword options.

A Component of Your Advertising Strategy
I’m definitely not advocating the removal of broad and phrase match options in your PPC campaigns by any means. The ideas presented here are another way that website owners can leverage the opportunities found in existing search engines tools, to better improve their own search engine marketing strategies. If you have insight, tips or recommendations for using Google AdWords, particularly related to the exact match function of the system, I would love to hear them and sincerely appreciate your contributions.


One Response to “Why You Should Use [Exact Match] in Your Google AdWords Campaigns”

  1. Bob Rustici on October 4th, 2007 7:41 pm


    Another good reason for always using the exact match with the broad match is help measure the length of the “search tail”. For example, if your broad match is producing a 1,000 search impressions and and the exact match is only producing 10 impressions in the same period this indicates a rather long tail.

    Understanding the search tail is often one of the most important tactics for a small business to create a PPC campaign with an affordable cost per conversion/sale. Very often you can’t afford the top keywords when broad matched, so the more you can “deconstruct” the search tail the better.

    Bob R.