Phrase Match is Dead – Long Live Modified Broad Match!

April 4, 2014 - 6 minutes read

Phrase match is not dead…

Apparently there are some people that still use phrase match in their PPC marketing. Kind of like some people just don’t want to move along with the times, and use debit cards šŸ˜‰

Baby tantrum over Phrase Match Keywords

Just a couple days ago during #PPCChat a few of the members gave their support for still using Phrase Match Keywords.

This was followed up with a post by Kirk Williams on his site about Phrase Match not being dead. In all fairness he made some great use cases for why you should still use phrase match. That being said, I do thing differently these days.

Why phrase match is dead in my book

Phrase Match Keywords Are Dead

Let’s be honest with each other and admit, that most AdWords and BingAds users barely know what a match type is, let alone the true difference between them. There are a million other things that I believe most PPC marketers would do better spending their time than adding in one more ad group or campaigns to monitor. They barely are able to monitor what they have now.

That is the biggest reason why I don’t rarely use phrase match anymore. I think we can all agree that PPC marketing is truly getting more complex as time goes on, and most PPC managers don’t have all the time to do what they should be doing already. That is why I created my Core & Expansion Campaign Methodology, and why it is essential to using only Exact Match & Broad Match Modified Keywords.

I am constantly looking for ways to simplify PPC Marketing… not only for the Paid Search tactician but also for the clients, and marketers, who are trying to help drive strategy and make more macro level decisions. That is why it is crucial to understand Core & Expansion Campaign Methodology to truly understand why phrase match is rarely used anymore.

Core & Expansion Campaign Methodology Briefly Explained

So you understand the basics behind this methodology, I will give you a quick run down. One point to remember is this was created to help simplify reporting, analytics, and most importantly growth of revenue & accounts.

What is the one thing crucial to managing PPC and focusing revenue generating opportunities only available at the campaign level? Budget! Now I don’t know about you but I would like control over whether the money I budgeted was being spent on proven revenue generating keywords(exact match) VS phrase match & broad match type keywords which may or may not be great revenue producers. Not to mention when you truly get to the core of why we use phrase and broad match keywords, it really should be to find more exact match keywords, not to run forever.

Campaign Breakdown

Core Campaigns

  • Exact Match Keywords Only
  • No Plurals, Misspellings, or Variances
  • Tight Ad Groups of no More than 5-6 keywords per Ad group
  • Receive Majority of Budgets (i.e 80%)
  • No Need for Negative Keywords because all are Exact Match
  • No need for Search Query Reports

Expansion Campaigns

  • Modified Broad Match Only
  • Exact Match Keywords from Core Campaigns as Negatives
  • Receive ~ 20% of budgets
  • Search Query Reports SQR run frequently
  • New Exact Match Keywords found & added to Core Campaigns & as negativesĀ here
  • Because Each Keyword Contains a “+” modifier (i.e +keyword) easy to distinguish from exact match in analytics

Modified Broad Match is awesome

Seriously, phrase match keywords were ok, but were never the most awesome keywords for expansion. After a little while if you are managing your accounts properly they will drive very little new keyword discovery.

Modified Broad Match on the other hand, doesn’t have the limitations of phrase match (i.e same exact order).Ā  Yet it has all of the benefits of traditional Broad Match, without the downsides (i.e “car” being matched to “truck”). Modified Broad Match fulfills the purpose of it’s design, which is to help uncover new keywords, to add as exact match keywords. Really that is the only reason we have other match types besides exact! Period! If you believe otherwise, well let’s be nice and say, you should have your head examined.

So as a search marketer looking to simplify my clients’ lives, and help them get the most bang for their buck, I only use Exact Match and Modified Broad Match these days. Like everything in search marketing there are exceptions, but I find those to be fewer and fewer as time rolls on.

Do you believe Phrase Match is dead? Why or why not?



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