One of the biggest USPs Google AdWords has is the ability to (in their own words)…
“Reach people actively looking for information about your products and services online”
Unlike TV, radio, magazine adverts or even web banners, people are only shown your advert when they are actively looking for information or products related to your site. So you set your daily budget, build your list of keywords to bid on, write your adverts and set it all live happy in the knowledge you won’t spend a penny more than you budgeted for and your adverts will only be shown against the keywords you have chosen. Wrong!
If you have any broad match keywords (click here to see the different type of keyword matching options) Google will automatically activate what they call ‘expanded match’. Here is how they describe it…
“With broad match, the Google AdWords system automatically runs your ads on relevant variations of your keywords, even if these terms aren’t in your keyword lists. Keyword variations can include synonyms, singular/plural forms, relevant variants of your keywords, and phrases containing your keywords.”
Most advertisers know that broad match will show adverts for plurals and phrases containing the keywords (that is why they have been set to broad match in the first place) but few know they can be also shown on ‘variants’ of the keyword. This essentially means your adverts will be displayed against keywords you haven’t bid on.
Unfortunately Google’s programming is far from perfect and you should be concerned with the attempts to match your ads with synonyms and misspellings because the system can get it very wrong. Using ourselves as an example, we found we were being shown for the search terms “Air hostess”, “Master resale rights” (no idea??) and “QVC host salaries” despite not having ‘host’ set to broad match (it used keywords based around ‘reseller hosting’). They were synonyms Google presumed were related to our account. We have now set those to negative matches.
To find out which keywords your adverts are running against use the ‘Search Query Report’ found in the ‘Reports’ section of your AdWords account. If you find any keywords unrelated to what you do, pick them out and set them as negative keywords to make sure you aren’t shown anymore.
Account > Reports > Create a new report > Placement / Keyword Performance
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