When and How to Use Broad Match Keywords

The landscape of match types across paid search is constantly changing. More recently, Google has pushed users away from the traditional exact and phrase match types to the notoriously avoided broad match. For years, advertisers were content with utilizing phrase match and exact match terms because they were safe and often resulted in relevant queries. With the sunsetting of the broad match modifier, there is more pressure by Google to switch over your keyword match types to pure broad.

Is it time to stop ignoring those pesky messages saying your campaign is limited by search volume? Could broad match keywords actually help your campaigns improve? Well, your program’s KPIs, strategy, and budget could help dictate whether broad match is the right move. Discover when and how to use broad match keywords for your campaigns below.

When is it the Right Time to Test Broad Match Keywords?


Campaign Goals are Focused on Growth Not Efficiency:

Broad match keywords can be a great tool to generate growth in your account when there is additional budget to spend. Due to their generic nature, broad match keywords allow advertisers to “cast a wider net” into the search results by matching out to related terms. For example, if your account was focused on advertising “luxury watches,” your exact match terms would limit the search results to just “luxury” related terms. Broad match keywords could match out to “best watches,” “high end watches,” “Rolex watches,” etc.—generating more traffic to the site and the opportunity for greater conversion volume. According to a study from Search Engine Land, broad match often results in lower CPCs, even with instances of exact match terms driving $1 higher CPCs in comparison to broad match. Depending on conversion rates, broad match could be an opportunity to expand accounts and also influence traffic/sales across additional channels.

When Your Business is Easily Defined:

A pure broad match strategy relies on Google’s algorithm to properly define the true nature of your product. If your product is straight forward, like “luxury watches” it will be easily for Google to generate keywords relevant to your search. However, if your company is more restrictive like software specifically for web developers, there is a greater chance that Google could generate queries that are irrelevant to your product.

When You Need to Save Time:

A broad match strategy can result in fewer keywords, fewer expansions, and fewer optimizations which can save advertisers time in their marketing process. Because broad match terms loosely match out to various searches, you no longer have to devote time to keyword expansion. Time can even be saved on campaign builds as advertisers will likely spend less time building out tedious variations of terms like “best watches,” “high-end watches,” “expensive watches,” and more.

When you are Implementing RLSA Campaigns:

Broad match keywords can be an excellent component of RLSA campaigns where relevant audiences are already overlaid on top of search campaigns. Since we know the user is already targeted, or in some cases, has visited the site before, we can expand the keyword set to focus on less restrictive iterations of the targeted keyword set.

When your Account has Strong Conversion Volume:

The key to implementing any of Google’s bid strategies is ensuring that you have enough data for the system to work efficiently. Broad match works best in accounts that generate strong daily conversion volume. Since we recommend combining broad match with bid strategies, the system will begin to “learn” which iterations work best in generating conversion volume or revenue. Google recommends having at least 15 conversions per week for a successful smart bidding strategy.

How to Use Broad Match Keywords:

Broad match can make or break your search campaigns so it is important to understand the best methods of implementation before we open the gates to a pure broad match keyword strategy.

Negatives, Negatives, Negatives:

Quite possibly the most important element to incorporating broad match keywords into your Google Ads strategy is to not only keep an extremely close eye on the search query results but to also proactively and regularly add negative keywords to avoid any irrelevant traffic. We recommend keeping a daily eye on the search query results, particularly over the first 7 days of a new program utilizing broad match.

Smart Bidding:

Through testing and overall Google recommendations, the best way to apply broad match terms to any campaign is utilizing a smart bidding strategy. Broad match terms generate more data through clicks and conversions for Google which allows the automated bid strategy to have greater learning to make decisions. If conversion tracking is properly set up, the bid strategy will, over time, stop showing your ads for less relevant searches as it acquires better data. In general tests, we have found that broad match works best when combined with exact match terms and can even result in exact match CPCs and conversion rates improving.

Analyze Backend Data (for lead generation companies):

Maximizing conversions is great, but if it is not driving deeper funnel leads, it will not be a profitable strategy. It is important to always evaluate backend data when running any test, but especially with broad match terms that are likely to drive in more generic traffic. If possible, we recommend importing in any offline conversion data to feed into the system so that Google’s bid strategies can optimize off quality leads and conversions.

Set Restrictions with Target CPA or Target ROAS Goals:

A good strategy for adding broad match keywords to your account in a conservative manner is to launch with target CPA or ROAS goals. Google’s learning algorithms will begin to identify what is most efficient for your account in order to avoid overspending with these new terms.


If you have any questions regarding automation best practices, please contact us by email at sales@synapsesem.com to talk through your Google Ads optimization needs.