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Is it safe to use broad match keywords for lead generation campaigns?

Google is pushing broad match hard and, some people are reporting good results. But, is it actually best practice now? Or, are broad match keywords still going to waste your ad budget on irrelevant clicks?

In the perfect world following Google's recommendations would be best practice for every account. We'd be confident that hitting the 'Apply' button would improve performance. Broad match keywords would bring in a load of highly-qualified traffic at rock-bottom prices.

A lot of people don't trust broad match keywords. Are they wrong?

If you've been running Google Ads for a few years, or if you've read older articles, you're probably skeptical about broad match keywords. And rightly so.

Broad match keywords were rubbish in the past. If you saw them when auditing an account you knew that the person who managed the the campaigns was an idiot.

That's because back then the only way we knew someone was likely to buy was by looking at what they typed into Google. Broad match showed your ads to lots of people who weren't ready to buy. They were mostly a waste of money.

But, today the words someone types into Google aren't the only signal we have that they might be ready to buy. Like it or not, Google has hard-drives full of information about everyone on the planet. And, they use that information to figure out if someone is a good prospect for the goods or services you sell. Even if that person didn't type the exact words you're advertising on.

Take this hypothetical, but plausible scenario...

On it's own, the search "lawyer near me" doesn't give us enough information to be confident that we should show them an advert.

But, knowing where they usually are (Houston), what they searched for before (travelling on a student visa), and where they currently are (at the border) lets us infer that they need help with immigration, right away. Showing them an ad for an immigration lawyer in El Paso would be a good move.

This isn't something a human can do at scale, but Google's computers can. Broad match will let you advertise on these kind of high-intent searches that you would have missed if you only had phrase and exact match keywords. They're good for scaling up an account when you've hit the ceiling with phrase and exact matches.

Check these things before you add broad match keywords.

But, before you add broad match keywords you should make sure that the account is generating good quality leads at or below your target CPA. You see, broad match keywords amplify problems. If you're getting loads of junk, or paying a lot more per lead than you can afford this is likely to be worse with broad match.

Here are a few other things to check before adding broad match keywords.

How to structure your Google Ads account to use broad match keywords.

You could put broad match keywords into a separate campaign. This makes it easier to control the budget and see how your broad matches compare to your phrase and exact.

But it makes the account more granular. This isn't a good thing when you're using conversion-based bid strategies. It's better to have more conversions in one campaign than have them spread thin over many campaigns.

I prefer to add broad match keywords to existing ad groups. I'll increase the campaign budget with the testing amount to pay for the extra traffic. It's easy enough to filter the keywords by match type to compare performance.

If you're worried that adding broad match keywords will break your campaign you might find this approach useful.

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