Adwords Broad Matching: When a visit is not a visit

Don’t want to pay for a search phrase containing the word “visit”?  No problem, just add it to the Adwords campaign negative keyword list.

Then Google will happily sell you clicks on the keyword “visits” instead.

Google is more than happy to offer “broad” keyword matching to increase the inventory of searches available for click & sale, but when it comes specifying keywords you don’t want to pay for, Google insists you be very specific. And able to deliver very poor spelling.

Peek Behind The Keyword Curtain

Just discovering what search phrases Google is selling you can be challenging, and is undoubtedly out of reach for the vast majority of Adwords buyers. Neither Google’s Adwords reporting, nor Analytics product – even with “ad tracking” switched on – will reveal the actual search phrases that were sold to you.

The only reporting Google offers is a carbon copy of the keywords you chose, which Google by default broadly matches against what users actually type into the search engine in order to display your ad and sell you the resultant click.

Instead, you need to scrape the referrer headers from your web server logs to determine what search terms you have been paying for. Which, of course, we do.

The Broad Match

One of the phrases we buy advertisements on is “website monitoring” – certainly a reasonable fit for our target audience. Imagine, then, our surprise at discovering that the following happy searcher was delivered to our website. For a modest fee, of course.

The usefulness of Google’s broad matching abilities have been discussed at length.  We know that the vast majority of advertisers have little idea of what keywords they are ultimately paying for, given the on-by-default nature of “broad matching”.

Even putting this substantial issue aside it is reasonable to expect that one can explicitly choose not to pay for irrelevant searches; for visitors with zero value.

Instead we find that our campaign negative keyword list grows daily, with such delights as “survailance”, “surveilance” and an ever increasing number of spelling variations. Each time because we’ve paid Google to deliver a worthless visit to our website.

Filed under: Google Adwords,Marketing,Sales Process — Jules @ 11:32 am - December 17, 2008 :: Comments Off

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A blog hosted by James Peterson, director of insights @ Wormly

On a semi-regular basis James will be trying to demonstrate that website infrastructure really is an exciting topic, and that your users really do care about the uptime & speed of your website.