How Dynamic Search Ads Can Replace Broad Match Keywords


10+ years ago, I built my first campaign for a spring manufacturer in Connecticut. Okay, I admit it, it was my father’s business. He wanted to try to get some new customers in the door, and I wanted to offer him an easy solution. I taught myself how to use Google’s keyword tool, did my “keyword research”, built my first campaign, set my bids and turned it on. Success!

What happened next was quite a humbling experience. I let the campaign run for a day. One. Day. Came in the next morning and after catching up on some work, got the time to check on it during my lunch break. My jaw dropped. I had spent over $800. That may not seem like a lot, but for a small business, I had blown through the budget in ONE DAY.

Needless to say, I turned the campaign off. I immediately dug in to see what had happened. How could this be possible? Yup, you guessed it, one term ran absolutely wild. This is how I learned what match types were and how to use them.

My father wasn’t exactly pleased. But he was never the anger type and understood that I made a mistake, we talked about it, and that was the end of that experiment. But ever since that experience, I’ve learned to hate Broad Match keywords. Maybe I’m bias, but I just didn’t get how somebody could get away with doing something so “scammy”. There were no warning signs. There were no notifications. I set my budget high because I figured it would take a while to reach it. Well, it didn’t.

The Low Search Volume Hurdle

The next time I ran a PPC campaign many months later, I took all the precautions. I set a very small budget. I researched more niche keywords. I used exact match only. I turned my campaign on, went in to check my keywords and saw this:

My reaction went something like this – “ARRRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHHHSDFHSERRNLKSDUR!!! What is this?!?!?! Come onnnnnnnnnnnn!” Well maybe it was a little more vulgar than that, but you get the idea.

The problem is, you can’t go too broad or you over-spend. You can’t go too “exact” or Google won’t show your ads. I eventually learned how to use a variety of match types to get the perfect result. However, what I ended up figuring out was that in order to show for the most targeted long-tail keyphrases, you need broad match. This is because broad match keywords rarely get the “Low Search Volume” tag, because it combines the traffic of all the keywords the term is eligible to show for. Using negative keywords to limit the over-spending, I was able to use Broad Match as the “exploratory” spend to find new terms and add them in as one of the other match types to the account.

The problem with this is that it takes a heck of a lot of work to manage these. Any broad match term can be eligible to show for thousands of keywords & variants, so going through all of these takes a lot of manual effort.

Introducing Dynamic Search Ads

In October 2011, Google announced Dynamic Search Ads. The appeal was quite clear – add your domain, and Google would “automatically” find what it considered relevant terms after crawling your website and show relevant ads. This worked great, but still did not do a good enough job replacing broad match because it targeted your entire website at once. How can you write more targeted description lines when you’re talking about various items across your entire website? They worked, don’t get me wrong, but for larger advertisers, they didn’t do enough.

Until about 1 month ago, June/July 2015.

Google has now given advertisers the control to target specific groups of pages on your website. This is a big deal, because now we can write more specific ads and split out our Dynamic Search Ads campaigns into multiple campaigns. Let’s say you sell auto parts. You can have a dynamic search ads campaign for “Brakes”, “Batteries”, and “Motor Oil”. You can be as broad or as targeted as you’d like.

Work AGAINST Your Dynamic Search Ads

While you may see some great success with Dynamic Search Ads, you should always be “working against it”. This may seem confusing, but it’s simple. If you find a new term that converts, the right thing to do is to add this term to your traditional search campaigns. The reason for this is because you can write even more targeted ads, sitelinks, callout extensions, and more by having more control over it. Dynamic Search Ads are just showing a text ad – if a more generic text ad converts, imagine if you take that term and write a real kick-ass targeted ad for it. In this manner, try using Dynamic Search Ads as your “keyword reasearch”. They’ll constantly be looking for new terms for you (a testing platform per se), and as they prove their worth, you add them into the account on a more normal basis!

TL:DR – Dyanmic Search Ads can now target by category on your website. Build them out, use them as a testing platform to figure out which terms work or not, then add them into your traditional text ads with a more targeted ad and extensions. This replaces the role that Broad Match exploratory spend has historically played.

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Roger Parent

Article by Roger Parent

Roger Parent is the Owner and Founder of Digital Position. He's been a developer, designer, and online marketer for almost 10 years spanning a variety of markets. He's also a very "passionate" (overly competitive) volleyball player.

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