Give Broad Match Keywords Another Try!

Give Broad Match Keywords Another Try!

There was a time where the thought of adding broad match keywords to your Google Ads campaigns would make the most seasoned advertiser shiver, and rightly so. Broad match keywords tend to drag in the most loosely related search queries that often result in high levels of wasted spend. In fact, for many years we’ve helped new clients get their campaigns improved by reducing and removing broad match keywords that sent lots of traffic, but didn’t convert often (or at all).

Back in November of 2020, Google reached out to advertisers to ask them to give broad match keywords another go (you can read the post here) and after we’d stopped laughing, we thought, why not, let’s give it a whirl!

Google also made this post that explained in more detail that:

“broad match keywords pair particularly well with smart bidding strategies including maximise conversions, maximised conversion value, target CPA and target ROAS”


“When you pair Smart Bidding with broad match, there’s no need to segment by match type to boost optimisation. The bidding system sets a bid for each individual auction of each query and bids up or down depending on how well the query is likely to perform. Broad match keywords allow the algorithms to learn faster and find additional auctions that can help you reach your growth objectives.”

So what does this ACTUALLY mean?

So, in a nutshell, Google claim that rather than just matching search queries to a broad match keyword, erm… broadly, if you combine them with smart bidding, it will filter out the rubbish we’ve all come to expect by showing ads for keywords with higher intent – essentially. Because of this, your budget will allow more spend to flow to queries that are more likely to convert thus providing an uplift in conversions, Google claim up to 25%.

So, in layman’s terms, here’s how it works:

In the past: If you bid on the keyword “blue jeans” (as broad match) it would match terms like “buy blue jeans” and “zip for blue jeans” or other related but, not always high intent terms that would indicate someone is about to buy.

Now: Together with smart bidding, Google claim to show ads more to queries that are higher intent for instance “buy blue jeans size 32″ waist” in addition to other intent signals such as if a user has previously visited your website or even clicked on other ads – perhaps.

Does it work?

Since January, we’ve rolled this out on an increasing number of clients. Does it work? Yes, it works for some of our clients but not for others. For those it works for, we generally see an uplift of 20-30% in conversions and a proportionate decrease in CPA – so more conversions and better ROI. In some cases, the results have been outstanding: The following graph shows an example of a lead generation campaign in the legal sector that uses broad match keywords in conjunction with Target CPA Smart Bidding: 

The graph speaks for itself (Cost increase was a budget increase to scale and find more leads).


A cautionary note:

While we have seen some great success with broad match keywords and smart bidding, adding broad keywords should still be done in a methodical and controlled manner with full consideration to the available budget and other keywords in the campaign. In many cases, we found the clients converted well, but some did receive a higher amount of low quality leads. While for some this was problematic, for most however, the lower cost of the leads mitigated the higher frequency of lower quality. The number of high quality leads also increased for less spend per lead which meant low quality leads could be discarded while still enjoying an overall increase in performance (more high quality leads for the same budget).

Improvement of ads to pre-qualify clicks will help minimise irrelevant/poor quality visitors make it to your site in the first place.