Article on The Perils of Broad Match by Rise Marketing UK
Article on The Perils of Broad Match by Rise Marketing UK

The Perils of Broad Match


The poor use of Broad Match keywords is one of the easiest ways to waste your money on AdWords, and it's not just a problem for novices. Google are changing the rules behind the scenes...

When we ran our first AdWords campaigns back in 2003, Broad Match (or "expanded match" as it was then known) was limited to all the keywords in any order, plurals, synonyms, etc.

Modern use

Today, the term "Broad Match" is - well - broader. Take this example from one of our contacts in the USA: A friend of theirs, who happens to be a keen fisherman, was searching Google for "fish bait".

Surprised to see an ad displayed for "Sony in-car CD players", he clicked on the ad and contacted the website. The owners of the site were equally surprised, and emailed Google to see what was going on.

After several exchanges with a rather reluctant member of the AdWords support team, they were finally offered this explanation:

"...Bass is a type of fish. It's also a type of speaker found in hi-fi's and CD players. CD players are found in cars, hence, the term "fish bait" triggered the ad..."

Google's logic is simple: Relaxing the criteria for broad match yields more clicks, and clicks equal revenue.


Our AdWords training courses focus a great deal on keyword research and campaign segmentation, starting with the following simple guidelines:

Keywords Example Phrase Match Type Recommendations
antiques Never bid unless it's a brand or acronym.
antique tables Phrase or Exact only.
antique victorian tables Phrase or Exact only.
antique victorian dining tables Broad, Phrase or Exact.
antique victorian mahogany dining tables Broad, Phrase or Exact.

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Google AdWords, Broad Match, Keywords

About the author

Peter Astley-Sparke is the director of Rise Marketing. Follow us on Twitter. Visit Peter's Google+ Profile.