The Importance of Phrase Match – Obama’s Inaugural Oath

I still see too many campaigns in which all the keywords are broad match. These advertisers are saying to Google, in effect, "You go and figure out who to show my ad to."

Aside from the fact that they’re ending the sentence with a preposition, they’re also abdicating their responsibility to select the exact keyword phrases which will bring targeted prospects.

So today, a brief reflection on the importance of phrase match, triggered by the bungled Presidential oath of office.

The Only Quotes in the Entire Constitution

I looked up the text of the Constitution online (as soon as I realized the only part I had memorized – "Hey, do you know about the U.S.A.? Do you know about the government? Can you tell me about the Constitution? Hey, learn about the U.S.A." – was actually from Schoolhouse Rock, and not the actual document).

So at I discovered something interesting:

The only quotation marks in the entire 4400-word document appear in Article 2, Section 1, Row E, Mezzanine:

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Because these words weren’t said in the exact order on Tuesday, some constitutional scholars – who must have a lot of time on their hands to be experts on just 4400 words – recommended the do-over, which was administered – flawlessly – yesterday.

What if the Oath of Office Were a Keyword?

If you were bidding on the entire presidential oath as a broad match AdWords keyword (which I’m not recommending, mind you, especially since Google limits search queries to 32 words, which I did not know until I tried to enter the presidential oath a few seconds ago), the second listing, from, is actually for the Congressional oath of office.

If you don’t think there’s a big difference between being a senator and being president, just ask John McCain!

But when you add the quotes back in to the search query, making it phrase match, you get an entire page of listings specifically about the presidential oath.

So What?

OK, so you’re not bidding on oaths of office. (Just a brief aside: nobody is bidding on "president oath" right now – what sorts of businesses could generate targeted traffic for that keyword this week? Public speaking courses? Historical book publishers? Commemorative Plate makers?)

What does this have to do with you?

If all your keywords are broad match (without quotes or brackets), then you are trusting Google to figure out which searches are actually relevant to you. And possibly more important, you are letting Google bundle low-quality prospects together with very high-quality prospects.

For example, let’s look at someone selling outerwear. Perhaps they bid on

fleece jackets

Google may show their ad for

fleece hooded jackets
North Face fleece jackets
Nort Face fleese jackets
North Face Denali fleece jacket sale
Men’s Large North Face Denali jacket

Do you think that some of these searches might be a little more valuable than others? Wouldn’t the merchant be willing to bid more on the very specific search term that includes product size? Mightn’t that merchant want to include some of those details in the ad and on the landing page?

Broad match allows you separate the different market segments, so you can learn and improve the relevance of your offerings. So take those longer-tail, higher "commercial intent" keywords and stick them in quotes, for broad match, and even brackets, from exact match.

So please repeat after me, "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute broad match keywords in my AdWords campaigns."


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