Website Hosting AdWords Keyword Matching Oddities

Many web hosting webmasters are using Google’s AdWords system and its counterpart – AdSense – to monetize their websites. While coming up with a truly great keyword list for your Google AdWords campaigns can be challenging, there is an important final step in the keyword list generation process – keyword matching.

What is Keyword Matching?
According to Google’s AdWords support website, there are three basic types of keyword matches: broad match, phrase match and exact match. Each type of keyword matching is designated by the syntax used to set up the keyword phrase in AdWords. Broad match has no associated brackets at all, phrase match uses the quotation marks symbol ( ” ) on either side of a term to designate it as a phrase match, and exact match terms are bracket with the [ and ] symbols. Here are how the three would look for a typical search term – website hosting:

broad match = website hosting

phrase match = ”website hosting”

exact match = [website hosting]

Broad match is the default option. Google explains how it works this way, ”With broad match, the Google AdWords system automatically runs your ads on relevant variations of your keywords, even if these terms aren’t in your keyword lists. Keyword variations can include synonyms, singular/plural forms, relevant variants of your keywords, and phrases containing your keywords.

For example, if you’re currently running ads on the broad-matched keyword web hosting, your ads may show for the search queries web hosting company or webhost. The keyword variations that are allowed to trigger your ads will change over time, as the AdWords system continually monitors your keyword quality and performance factors. Your ads will only continue showing on the highest-performing and most relevant keyword variations.”

So as I understand it – when you set up a term like ‘hosting’ as a broad match your ad can show up for any and every term that contains ‘hosting’. Some examples of where I expect that your ad will show up if you use broad match are: website hosting, hosting a party, hosting support, what is web hosting – and some forth.

Phrase match is described by Google as follows, ”If you enter your keyword in quotation marks, as in ”tennis shoes,” your ad would be eligible to appear when a user searches on the phrase tennis shoes, in this order, and possibly with other terms before or after the phrase. For example, your ad could appear for the query red tennis shoes but not for shoes for tennis, tennis shoe, or tennis sneakers. Phrase match is more targeted than broad match, but more flexible than exact match.”

So if you used the term ‘website hosting’ then your ad will show up for discount website hosting, website hosting services, and what is website hosting. Got it – I think.

So here is where I get confused by Google: I am constantly running into situations where these rules as stated by Google just don’t seem correct – at least for the web hosting industry. It’s difficult to elucidate specific examples without giving away some great keywords – but here is one clear cut example. The keyword phrase: ‘image hosting’ almost never seems to have any AdWords ads around it. Huh? How can that be?

There have to be dozens, if not hundreds of companies that are broad matching on ‘hosting’ and terms related. So according to Google’s rules – wouldn’t all the companies that are broad matched on ‘hosting’ show up for any term that contains the word hosting?

Here’s another example: ‘.Net framework’. There are many hosting companies that use ‘.Net’ or related on broad match. So why aren’t there AdWords ads on this term?

I suspect that there are many many oddities like this in AdWords. It would be great to understand what exactly this list of ‘outliers’ are – and also understand the reasoning at Google for why these keywords are so special. If anyone knows, please respond in the comments.

This content was written by Derek Vaughan.