The Optimal PPC Keyword Match Type Strategy Reviewed by Momizat on . In my last post I said I would talk about match types and their importance, but the awesome Susan Wenograd wrote a post on Keyword Match Types over on the YouMo In my last post I said I would talk about match types and their importance, but the awesome Susan Wenograd wrote a post on Keyword Match Types over on the YouMo Rating: 0
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The Optimal PPC Keyword Match Type Strategy

The Optimal PPC Keyword Match Type Strategy

In my last post I said I would talk about match types and their importance, but the awesome Susan Wenograd wrote a post on Keyword Match Types over on the YouMoz blog. So instead I am going to focus on something I have had many conversations about over the last couple months.

How do you structure your PPC campaigns?

Over the last 6+ months I have had the opportunity to talk with quite a few people. I have been interviewed multiple times by companies looking to do audits, a few who asked me to consult on projects, and a couple more who wanted to offer me a job. I also had the amazing opportunity to teach a day long PPC course at UCSD, as well as train multiple newbies to PPC, for in-house and agency teams.

In talking with all of these people, from newbies, to experienced pros the topic of “How do you structure your PPC campaigns?” almost always comes up. Another question is “what is your keyword match type strategy?”

In all of my years of doing PPC it seems I have had to explain this more in the last 6 months than I did in the previous 7.5 years of doing Paid Search. My answer has changed over my career. The answer I give today is different than I would have given even two years ago. It has evolved because of my experience into what I call my, Core & Expansion Campaign Methodology.


What do you mean by Core & Expansion?

Let me get a little gamer on you here. Anybody cool has probably heard of StarCraft. Blizzard Entertainment made millions of dollars, off of that one game. It was such a success and helped catapult Blizzard into the company it is today, that they didn’t even make a sequel game until 12 years later. They did however build upon the core original success of StarCraft by creating some expansion packs, one of which, Brood Wars, helped it continue to be a top online game till today. However, keep this in mind that the expansion pack would have been basically worthless without the core StarCraft game.

At the core (see what I did there?) of my PPC Core & Expansion Campaign Structure Methodolgy are keyword match types. This campaign methodology, I wouldn’t even be able to use if it wasn’t for the introduction of Modified Broad Match across the major search engines. Before that, I used a standard, Exact, Phrase & Broad Match campaign structure.

When I say Core Campaigns, I want you to think of money, mission statements, & foundations. Why those three things?

  1. Money – Your Core campaigns are your money makers. They contain only those keywords which you know make you money.
  2. Mission Statements – They are the central defining focus for a company. The mission statement should define what the company is best at being & doing at its core.
  3. Foundations – Your Core Campaigns are the base upon which the rest of your successful PPC marketing rests.

When you hear Expansion Campaigns, I want you to think, of options, extras, & the unknown. These campaigns are there, to help you expand beyond, your core money making keywords. A long standing number touted by Google, is that 20% of all keyword queries, they have never seen before, or at least not in the last 6 months.

You can’t just be a one pony show! You need to also expand, if done correctly, it will not only help you find more money making keywords, but also could potentially give you consumer insights you never would have gotten.

So what is in a Core Campaign?

Your Core Campaigns, will contain only exact match keywords!Let me repeat that so there are no mistakes, your core campaigns, will contain only exact match keywords. You will have no phrase, no broad, and no modified broad match keywords in your core campaigns. You will also make sure if the option is available that you don’t have “include close variants, plurals” etc, turned on in your campaign settings.

There are many reasons for this, and some I will explain in other blog posts, but you don’t want anything to muddy the water. Your core campaigns, will be the ones, where you know exactly how every single conversion happened, or lead was generated. You will be able to focus on ad copy testing and bidding. These campaigns, (though it is a heated debate) will allow you to focus on ways to increase your Quality Score, and decrease your costs.

A nice added benefit, of PPC core campaigns you never have to worry about search query reports for them, or adding negative keywords.

Now for the Expansion Campaigns

On the other hand your PPC expansion campaigns are going to be a little more complicated. Your expansion campaigns will be comprised of all modified broad match keywords. This post is running a little long so I will explain in another one why I only use exact and modified broad now.

The goal for your expansion campaigns, is to find new keywords to add to your core campaigns. That’s it. Are you starting to follow-me on the thought process behind core and expansion campaigns and why it is an optimal keyword match type strategy?

So a couple of very important points

  • You must add all your exact match keywords as exact negatives. This will should keep the search engines from having your exact match keywords show up in these campaigns.
  • Regular Search Query Reports are crucial to successfully using the expansion campaign under control and funneling new exact match keywords into your core campaigns.
  • The third one is… wait there isn’t a third one.

A Few Final Words

I am sure there will be 101 questions, and I will run through some in other blog posts, and others…really briefly now.

  • This keyword match type account structure is most easily built out when you already have campaigns running. Why? Because you should have a plethora of conversion data through Search Query Reports to begin your buildouts.
  • Through competitive and proper keyword research, using tools like Spyfu, you can use this to build out completely new accounts with no history.
  • Rebuilding accounts and changing it’s structure should be done over time. Just jumping in and doing it all at once, can have negative short-term consequences.
  • If you do not fully understand everything mentioned in this post, please seek the help of a professional, so it is done correctly.

Hopefully you have seen the light, and are now converted to my ways, but if not sound off in the comments on how you build out campaigns.

About The Author

The PPC Dictator

Bryant is a seasoned Paid Search Executive with over 9 years of experience. Known by many as The PPC Dictator, he specializes in consulting with Start-ups and Fortune 1000 companies on their Paid Media endeavors. He is hyper passionate about mobile and CRO. Having worked with companies from Choice Hotels & Greendot to start ups like Palo Alto Networks he has the skills needed to help your paid programs thrive! When he isn't busy rocking PPC, blogging, or tweeting, you will usually find him having fun with his wife & 4 kids. Connect with Bryant on - Google+ LinkedIn Twitter

Number of Entries : 32

Comments (6)

  • Steve Cameron

    Great post… I agree with your comments about poor old phrase match – I, too, have practically abandoned this option in preference for MBM as it seems to get the right balance between volume and control to feed the exact campaigns.

  • Josh Kohlbach

    Hey Bryant,

    How often do you pull the reports and convert MBM keywords over to exact? Does it depend on volume, conversions, etc? Or do you do it like weekly or monthly or something?

  • Jordan

    Hi Bryant, great post! I use a very similar strategy myself.

    I have a question about brand keywords I’d love to get your thoughts on. Our brand name contains the most popular industry keyword as one of the words. This industry keyword on its own (single-word keyword, Exact match) drives the highest number of sales for us. It has a QS of 6 while our brand term is also quite popular but has a QS of 10. Could including the brand keywords in the same ad group as the top exact match term potentially help the quality score of the latter by improving the overall ad group QS? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts…

  • Jaakko Suojanen

    Totally agree! Have also been using MBM more and more. Broadmatch just takes too much time with negative hunting and adgroup sculpting.

    Like the core and expansion idea too.


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