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Search Engine Advertising and Keyword Matching

Search engines seem to be all the rage these days. Internet users want easy accessibility to various sites for shopping, entertainment, business, etc. And the best way to do this is with the help of search engines like Google, Yahoo, or Overture.

So, how do advertisers get their listings on these ever-popular sites? Google and Overture, the two major players in search engine marketing, offer two ways--organic (natural) or paid listings. We're going to explore the latter and how you can make it work for you, particularly with respect to keyword match types.

Google Match Types

Google AdWords is Google's own advertising system, allowing advertisers to "create your own ads, choose keywords to tell us where to show your ads and pay only when someone clicks on them," boasts its site. It is basically a way to purchase Google's search engine keywords.

In order to get users to see your Google ad placement, you must first determine what keywords you will apply in relevance to your ad. Google has four different keyword matching options, each with their own stipulations as to how you can target different sets of users. General keywords generate the most impressions but often result in fewer clicks. On the other hand, by changing your matching options you can better target your ads. The options are as follows:

Broad Match:
The most basic and common option - you include your keyword/keyword phrase (usually best to go with a phrase because users generally search for 2-3 words) in your keyword list. Say you list "tennis shoes"...your ads will appear when a user searches for the words "tennis" and "shoes" in any order. Furthermore, your ad will appear when a user searches for plural terms or similar variations.

Phrase Match:
When you enter a keyword in quotation marks like "shower curtains" your ad will show when a user looks for this exact term in this order. It can also be viewed when someone does a search for "green shower curtains", but not for "curtains" or "shower". Phrase matching is obviously more targeted than broad match and is more flexible than exact match, the next option.

Exact Match:
This is the most targeted option of the four. You surround your keyword in brackets - [jewelry cleaner]- and subsequently your ad will only show when a user searches for "jewelry cleaner", in this order and without any other terms. Undoubtedly, this is extremely targeted. You are likely to receive more clicks than impressions.

Negative Keyword:
Perhaps you sell dog collars of all colors -- except green. You can set your keyword for dog collars but add the word green as your negative keyword. In other words, simply type in -green. If someone wants a green dog collar, he/she will not see your ad.

Overture/Yahoo Match Types

Search engine marketers should note that while Google and Overture offer similar services, they apply different terms. So, be conscious of this fact when distinguishing between the different options.

Overture allows you to bid differently for each match type. There are currently three of these options, but Overture also allows for negative keywords, like Google.

Standard Match:
This is the equivalent of Google's broad match option. If your bidded search term is "diamond ring" your ad will appear when someone types that exact phrase, singular/plural variations of the words, or misspells any word/s.

Phrase Match:
Overture will preserve your search term in its exact order but will also allow for other terms to be included in the query, as well. E.G.- The bidded search term is "golf shoes". If a user enters "golf shoes in size 10" your listing will show.

Broad Match:
True to form, your listing will appear when your search term is used in the broadest form. For example, if a user types in "car used in James Bond movie" and your term is "used car"...your listing will appear.

Regional Targeting

It is important to note that there are also regional targeting options for advertisers. Google recently implemented this feature and it is sure to gain momentum. Regional targeting allows advertisers to not only specify a particular country, but states and regions, too. This option can benefit advertisers that are trying to reach people in particular areas.

If you are selling your product or services but can only provide them to a very specific area, this is a very effective option to implement. Prospects in your targeted area/s will see your ad even if they enter very general terms.

Determining what keywords you will use is an extremely difficult task. Both Google and Overture have keyword tools to assist you, but it still takes time, strategy, and good ole' playing around to figure out what words are the most effective.

Search engine marketers need simply to put themselves in the shoes of Internet users. What terms do they commonly use? What combinations?

With some fine-tuning and research, any advertiser is sure to gain from paid search listings.

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