AdWords Expanded Match Continues to Confound

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Google’s Expanded Broad Match option for Adwords has been the source of much discussion since it launched a couple of years ago. Much of the feedback from advertisers has been less than positive, as evidenced by this Search Engine Watch thread which started almost 2 years ago, yet remains active today.

However, the coupling of Expanded Broad Match with Google’s new Search Query Report has put the spotlight on some of its flaws and shortcomings. Further confounding the issue is Google’s recent clarification of its Landing Page Guidelines, which has some experts wondering whether Google has gone too far in pursuit of a positive user experience.

On the flip side of that coin comes a lively thread on Webmaster World. A good summary of the thread is at Search Engine Roundtable, but basically advertisers expressed their displeasure with the lack of relevancy in Expanded Broad Match. Adwords Advisor chimed in asking for clarification, with a promise to take the feedback to the powers that be at Google, and the discussion’s taken off from there.

I’ve given some of my thoughts in that thread, and the gist of them is that on the plus side, expanded broad match is one of the best ways to discover tail terms that drive great ROI. Instead of spending hours poring over keyword tools and server logs, why not let Google do the legwork for you via expanded broad match? Well, the downside is that, as evidenced in the WMW thread, expanded match goes too far. Ads are being shown on totally irrelevant searches, as well as foreign language and character queries. I don’t think anyone can claim that irrelevant ads provide a positive user experience. A positive experience for Google’s pocketbook, maybe, but not for the searcher.

What we need is for Google to bring back the classic broad match, and have expanded broad match as a separate match option. This has been brought up time and again on forums and blogs, as well as search conferences such as SMX Advanced. I think it’s time Google gave this idea more than just lip service. Let’s hope AWA’s meeting moves us closer to that goal.

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  1. Agreed. Also voted to separate them on the linked SEW poll.

  2. I didn’t comment on the wmw thread but will here. I love expanded broad match – saves me tons of time. When i setup a new campaign with EBM i instantly generate a massive list of possible negatives and add it to the group. Depending on volume I follow up a few days days later with a lot more negatives.

    Unrelated clicks are basically non existent – and in some cases what I would at first glance deem to be poor targeting of an ad due to expanded match actually converts or leads me down a new path of discovery to profitable keywords.

    When EBM could cause issues I roll up my sleeves and kick out massive EM’d lists or from time to time use PM.

    Being able to opt in or out of EBM would be a nice option I suppose but to me it’s not high on the list of features I’m anxious to see roll out.


    ps – great post!

  3. Thanks, Jeremy. Your comments are very interesting. In general, this is what I do too. Then again, I’ve gotten burned by it. Not dramatically, but enough that I want both options available.

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