03 Jul 2012

Google’s Exceptions to Search Query Matching Rules

July 03, 2012PPC Advertising

Last week, we discussed how Google’s system chooses which ads to serve when a search query matches multiple keywords within a single ad group. To piggy back on that discussion, this week we will discuss more of their exceptions to the rules.
In some instances a user may enter a search query that matches multiple keywords; however those multiple keywords exist within different ad groups. In situations such as these, the Google system is forced to make a bigger decision. Ad groups contain a myriad of information, and these differ one by one. For example the things like the physical ads, landing pages and custom settings will vary by ad group depending upon the ways they were set up. Naturally these differences affect the quality scores, and the ads’ ultimate rankings.
When a search query triggers multiple keywords across a number of ad groups, Google uses the following guidelines to decide which ad group and correlating ad is displayed. (The guidelines are fairly similar to the ones in place for when multiple keywords are triggered within the same ad group):
  1. Regardless of the ad group, Google chooses to use the keyword that matches the search query exactly, over one that does not. Google will opt to use the keyword that is identical to the search query, rather than one that isn’t, ad group aside. An example of this would be if someone searched for “Running Shoes” and this was identical to the broad-match keyword rather than if there was a phrase-match in place for “Shoes”. Google assumes that the identical match will prove more fruitful overall.
  2. When keywords within different ad groups have the same keywords, but different match types, Google opts to use the keyword with the strictest match type. Because match types specify a specific setting, Google will want to select the keyword that has the most restrictive match type attached, regardless of which ad group it is applied within. For example, if “Nike Athletic Shoes” is set under a broad-match setting while the word “Athletic Shoes” is set to phrase match, Google will go with the keyword that has the phrase match setting
  3. If a search query triggers multiple keywords across a slew of campaigns, it will choose the keyword from the campaign that is geographically targeted. Here is one that differs from multiple keywords within a single ad group. If a user enters the search query “Running Shoes” within Chicago, IL, rather than pull up a store somewhere in Nebraska, Google will opt to select the campaign that has location targeted settings to ensure that a relevant ad for a nearby Chicago store is displayed. This helps limit the possibility that useless ads are served to people who are less likely to make a purchase because of their geographic location. Ads can be targeted by entire country, by region within a country or radius around a location. This means, the more specific, then the more likely it is to be served in this situation.
  4. Google will choose the keyword that has the highest ad rank, regardless of the ad group with which it is associated. Similarly again to what we discussed last week, Google will choose the ad with the highest combined QS and Max bid (ad rank) when choosing the same keyword across a number of ad groups. Every once in a while, a less relevant ad may possess a higher ad rank, and thus be selected by Google. Though rare, if you experience this, try adding a negative keyword to ensure that your ads are being presented to the potential customer who is most likely to follow through with a purchase.