Focused Expansion, Controlling Expanded Search in Adwords

Bob Dumouchel

Personally I’m a fan of broad match and the ensuing expanded search feature in Google… now that I can track it. I can’t say this enough …I love the Search Query Report… it opens a lot of doors and shows you negatives you would have never thought of. Plus it has potential to save you money!

One of the reasons I like expanded searches is that no matter how hard you try, you will never be as creative/ridiculous as the general public. The way people structure their searches is really fascinating. The general populace’s inability to spell is a little troubling too. But just because someone can’t spell, or uses an awkward path to get to your site doesn’t mean they don’t have a credit card. As a search marketer you need to cater to everybody who could buy your advertised product.

Now the downside of expanded matching is that Google can get even more creative than the public. It’s kind of scary that an algorithm is making leaps in logic to include you in queries that may be related to your objective. To give you a few examples of the mayhem that ensues: I searched ‘buy a luxury bus’ and some of the ads used the word coach, in position 6 was Coach.com the handbag maker. A word I use for a general contractor now has about 400 negative keywords to include ‘Land Cruiser’, ‘foreskin’, and ‘hearing’. I’ve also seen a lot of celebrity name crossover, if you’re not up to date on pop culture at least use derivatives of the word ‘naked’ as negative keywords (half of all celebrity searches seem to involve nudity, traffic I’m guessing you don’t need). All these types of match drop click through rates and waste money.

Now that it is available, I can’t stress enough the importance of running at least a monthly Search Query Report. This matched with the Adsense Placement Report are probably the two most useful features that Adwords has given us this year. Run the SQR report and sift through it by hand to extract all the most irrelevant searches. Then make a second pass looking for good words and phrases you don’t have in your account that you should. Your first SQR report should be a PPC revelation, there’s going to be some crazy stuff in there. Make sure you make the most of this new tool!