You can waste a lot of money -- or fail to earn your share -- if you haven't learned to use the keyword matching features available for Pay Per Click (PPC) ads on Google AdWords, MSN AdCenter, or Yahoo! Search Marketing. When you set up keywords to bid on, you need to select the appropriate kind of keyword matching -- or you'll be assigned the default Broad Match, which could cost you dearly.
With Paid Search you're trying to get the highest number of sales conversions at a cost that still allows a reasonable profit. Usually this means trying for a large number of targeted customers, while keeping your average cost-per-click low. Of course, Paid Search requires a trade-off between higher cost words that convert better and lower cost words that don't convert quite as well. Keyword matching options are the chief tools at your disposal to maximize target traffic, minimize wasted click-throughs, and control your costs.
Here are the types of matches to choose from:
Match Type Description, Advantages and Disadvantages
(default) Shows your ad whenever your keywords are used -- in any order -- or in combination with other search terms. "Camera lens" will show up under "telephoto camera lens " and "lens for camera," as well as "buy camera lens" but not "buy lens" May bring in keyword matches you haven't thought of and is likely to create a higher traffic volume that other matching options. May bring untargeted traffic that won't convert well. General keywords are usually more expensive than more specific keywords. Broad match is the default unless you specify another type of match.
(designated in Google AdWords by enclosing with quotation marks) Similar to broad match, but your keyword phrase must be searched on the in the exact word order you specify. "Camera lens" will match "telephoto camera lens" and "buy camera lens" but not "lens for camera" Provides somewhat greater specificity than broad match, which means that you may get a higher conversion rate and exclude some irrelevant search combinations. Can be used for rather obscure keyphrases without excluding related searches. Useful for including place names when you are advertising a local business. Could still provide matches for untargeted traffic. Watch carefully.
(designated by enclosing with brackets) Searchers must match your keyword phrase exactly, with no other keywords in addition. "Camera lens" will not match "buy camera lens" or "camera lenses." Allows greatest specificity for keywords and thus only the most relevant searches, producing the potential for a higher conversion rate. Will require greater set up time, since you'll have a keyword for every possible combination. Could restrict traffic from search terms you haven't included.
(designated by preceding with a minus sign/hyphen) Prevents a match from a search phrase that includes one of your negative keywords. For example, if you sell only SLR lenses, you might list as negative matches "cover," "DV," "video," etc. to prevent matches for "camera lens cover" or "DV camera lens" or "video camera lens." Prevents irrelevant click-throughs for products in different industries or products you don't sell. Can decrease costs and increase conversion rate. No downside when used carefully.
by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson, Editor, Web Marketing Today