Keyword Match Types, Keyword Bids, & the Google AdWords Auction

A current client of ours asked a great question around search queries, bids, and match types. We thought we’d share an edited version of this Q & A.

Client: My understanding is that in general, exact match keywords are the most efficient match types in terms of average CPCs and impression share. Thus, in general, to gain the same ad position you need a higher CPC bid on broad match keywords than exact match keywords; and/or at a given CPC, Google is more likely to serve your ad if it’s an exact match vs a broad match if the search term is that exact keyword.

CPC Search:  The keyword match type does not change the economics of the AdWords auction or the CPC. The auction economics are still determined on a query-by-query basis by query-level quality score and bid.

Get granular with keyword match types, bids and auction

Get granular with keyword match types

What does make a difference is that with more keywords, including more exact-match (and phrase-match, and broad-match-modified (BMM)) keywords, you have more granularity and visibility. So, if a search query does well, then your exact-match bid is likely to be higher than the broad-match bid, since that broad-match keyword is probably getting matched up to queries that are less relevant and perform less well than does the good query; so, you would likely have a lower bid on that broad-matched keyword.

Client: And the way to think about phrase and broad match types is that you are matching more search queries and thereby gaining more overall impressions.  Would that be about right?

CPC Search:  Yes – phrase, broad and BMM are useful because they widen the net, and the net is almost always going to have some good search queries.  Another way to think about it – if you never had broad-match keywords in your account, you’d be a huge sucker since you’d never be able to capture all the conversions available from search queries that may appear only once or twice each month or year.

I think it’s worth mentioning that the client added some analysis of their own regarding exact-match keywords we were missing, and we took action on that. It’s great to have clients that are engaged and eager to collaborate!