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When do ads show on variations of my broad- and phrase-matched keywords?

Broad and phrase keyword matching options allow your ads to appear for queries that don't exactly match your keywords. This provides you with additional ad coverage without having to generate an exhaustive keyword list. However, what if some keyword variations don't work well for you, or the keyword isn't as targeted as it could be? There's a greater chance that you'll accrue less-targeted clicks and inflate your costs. We take several steps to help prevent this, while ensuring that users still enjoy a quality advertising experience on Google.
As of April 2006, we consider both your keyword's clickthrough rate (CTR) and cost-per-click (CPC) bid before showing your ad for a keyword variation. A keyword's eligibility for broad match variations is evaluated continuously based on its performance, so if the keyword performs poorly, it will be eligible for fewer variations. Conversely, if it performs well, it will be eligible for more. While it's possible to increase the keyword's CPC bid to counter a lower CTR, we encourage you to optimize your keywords and ad text instead. Also, your original broad-matched keyword can continue to be active even if some of its variations stop showing ads. This way, your keywords aren't penalized for underperforming variations.


We've included two examples below to demonstrate how a user's search might be affected:


Example 1: A user searches for general information about a topic of interest.

An advertiser, Athletic Shoes Online, bids a very low CPC for their low CTR, broad-matched keyword 'walking.' A user interested in finding walking trails to explore in our country's capital searches for 'walking trails in Washington D.C.' However, Athletic Shoes Online's ad doesn't mention walking trails. Our system ensures that the user is less likely to see this ad, and other ads that are less relevant to their search.

Athletic Shoes Online's ads are more likely to appear for all possible variations of their broad-matched keyword 'walking,' if they increase their keyword's CTR by optimizing their ad text and keywords. If that doesn't help, they may have to increase their maximum CPC bid to counter the poor performance of the keyword. They can also use negative keywords to avoid excess impressions that don't deliver clicks. If there are particular terms Athletic Shoes Online really wants the ad to appear for, they can add them as individual keywords to their keyword list.

Example 2: A user searches specifically for an item of interest.

An advertiser, WidgetLand, bids an average CPC for their high CTR, broad-matched keyword 'widgets.' A user interested in buying widgets in our country's capital searches for 'reliable widgets in Washington D.C.' Our system shows as many relevant ads for the broad-matched keyword 'widgets' as possible because the user has specifically searched for this item.

If WidgetLand doesn't want their ad to appear for all possible variations of 'widgets,' they can decrease their maximum CPC bid, or add negative keywords to stop their ad from matching specific variations. They can also change the keyword matching options for existing keywords to exact matches (this will delete the existing broad-matched version). Note that specifically targeting users with exact-matched keywords may decrease WidgetLand's ad impressions. So, again, if there are particular terms that are important to WidgetLand's campaign, they should be added as individual keywords.

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