With 40,000 searches made on Google every second us PPC marketers want to filter down these searches to be as relevant as possible. In this short article I am going to take a step back and actually attempt to visualise how we funnel down these 1.2 trillion searches a year to show the perfect ad to the customer. After all, with CPC and competition on the rise, we can’t afford to be wasting valuable clicks on irrelevant searches.

The foundation to any PPC campaign is the keywords. We need to be able to capture searches to be able to funnel them towards our ads.


However what often gets overlooked is the importance of keyword match type. ‘Exact Match’ shows your ads only to search queries which are exactly the same as your keywords (as well as ‘close variants’). Phrase match keywords show your ad to search queries which have the same string of keywords in the query. For example the phrase match keyword “Blue Dress” will show for the search query “Where to buy a blue dress”. Broad match will show your ads if the search query is related to your broad match keyword. Broad match modifier will show ads to search queries which include all of your broad match modifier keywords in any order. How you decide which match types to use depends on your strategy but it is important to consider which type to use. Too broad and you’re catching irrelevant traffic, too narrow and you’re missing out on opportunities.

I like to imagine this process of using match types to direct traffic to your ads like different sized funnels catching rain. Your funnel is going to be positioned in the place that your searches are being made (i.e. searching for your keywords) how much of it is captured depends on your match type.

Funnelling down traffic using keyword match types is an important part in controlling search and cost. With this funnelled down traffic we can add a filter in order to cut out the waste spend. This is where negative keywords come in.


Negative keywords are used to do the opposite of keywords. If the negative keyword is in the search query, the ad will not show. This is an incredibly useful tool to help filter out wasted spend and can be used at Campaign or Ad Group level. For example, you may want to use broad match modifier to target search queries including the terms “Marathon” and “Watch” for your Marathon Watch ads as there are many different watch series for this type of watch. To ensure you don’t get wasted spend from people looking to watch the Boston Marathon online, negative keywords need to be in place to block out terms like: ‘Watch Marathon Online’ and ‘Watch Marathon’ as phrase match (negative keywords come in the same match types as regular keywords). Using negative keywords is an important step for funnelling searches to your ads. This both helps reduce waste spend on irrelevant searches and increased the overall quality of your traffic. In order for the search traffic to continue down the funnel, it must pass through the negative keyword filter.

At this point we have relevant, filtered traffic which can trigger our ads. We can go a step further and funnel the traffic to a specific ad, or increase the bid to achieve a better ad rank. This is where Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) comes in.


You can find some more information about RLSA here but basically you use audience lists, much like remarketing, however it is not used to target customers in the display network, rather it works alongside search marketing. The marketer can choose to either ‘Target and Bid’ or ‘Bid Only’.

Choosing ‘Target and Bid’ will allow you to bid on keywords like standard search but only to people within the audience list. This affords the use of highly targeted ads to these specific audiences. For example, set up a list for customers who entered the cart but did not convert, use this audience in a specific search campaign with RLSA to target and bid on that audience and show a unique ad promoting a discount or offer to encourage them to convert.

Choosing to ‘Bid Only’ will allow you to apply a bid adjustment to the selected audience whilst still displaying ads to people outside of your audience. This can be particularly useful when bidding on competitive keywords. For example, set up an audience for all visitors, apply this to a campaign with competitive keywords and set a 50% bid adjustment to your audience. This will show your ads in a higher position if the customer is already familiar with your brand.

I think being able to visualise how you are getting your ads in front of customers is important. Like so many other aspects of performance marketing, being able to think logically will help create a better overall solution. With so many different ways to target customers, it’s important to be able to take a step back and consider what you are actually doing and what you can do better.


By Ben Farrar, Performance Marketing Executive at Zeal.

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