Welcome to Part 2 in our series of blogs describing some of the most common ways we find money being wasted in AdWords.

Keyword Match Types

Our top 3 tips for avoiding wasting money due to poor use of keyword match types.

1. Avoid using pure broad match keywords – use modified broad (+) instead

2. Make sure you add plenty of negative keywords and are actively reviewing the search term report to help spot new ones

3. Make sure your best performing keywords are not restricted by budget or rank and feature as exact match wherever possible.

Broad Match

Ahhh, good old broad match keywords. Do nothing and this is what you get. Google will also kindly suggest a load more similar keywords (all broad match) and entice you with how many people you could reach…

Screenshot of Adwords keyword ideas

Don’t be tempted – one new client had been using broad match keywords only. They were wasting 85% of their monthly budget on irrelevant clicks. As an example, let’s take a generic search term such as ‘ladies polo shirts’.  A pure broad keyword would match the following terms:

  • Women’s collared shirts
  • Ladies polo hats
  • Women’s shirts
  • Polo shirts

Adding the broad match modified version (+ladies +polo +shirts) would give you far more control over which terms your ads showed for. Every word that has a ‘+’ applied to it has to feature in the search term, or at least a close variant. Examples would now be limited to things like:

  • Women’s polo shirts
  • Polo shirts for ladies
  • White women’s polo shirts

Much more relevant! With correct negative use things can be controlled even further…


Another classic keyword mistake – lack of negatives. Commit this sin alongside the use of pure broad match, then the number of wasted impressions / clicks will be sky high!

Classic negatives that should be put into almost every account include ‘jobs’ ‘vacancies’ ‘cheap’ and ‘free’. If you are an estate agent you don’t want to show ads for people searching for ‘estate agent jobs’. You should also review your search term report regularly to make sure you are adding any new negatives that pop up.

Correct keyword (and negative) usage is especially important on tight budgets.  You need to ensure your real keyword stars, in terms of the best conversions, have enough budget to get seen and are not being hampered by wasteful impression thieves!

Best performing “star” keywords

To really make best use of your star keywords make sure they feature in exact match form. Place them in their own ad group, or in one with very few other keywords. This way you can make sure your ad copy is super relevant and that no impressions are wasted on anything other than your star keywords.

Taking care of your keyword match types will help you to make more of your AdWords budgets and can have a significant impact on conversion rates.

In our next post, we’ll cover generic targeting mistakes. If you missed our first post on Network Settings, check it out here

If you would like us to audit an existing campaign or assist you in setting up a new AdWords campaign, then please get in touch.

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