The search engines give you some control over which search queries trigger your PPC ads. Google and MSN offer three options: Exact, Phrase and Broad Match. In general, Exact Match means your ad will only appear if a person's search query matches exactly with the keyword (or phrase) you bid on. With Phrase Match, your ad is eligible to be shown if the search query contains all the words in your keyword plus additional words before and/or after. Broad Match allows the search engines to add additional words to your keyword phrase, plus separate and rearrange the words in your original keyword phrase. Yahoo offers two options: Standard Match (similar to Exact Match) and Advanced Match (similar to Broad Match).

Not surprisingly, the search engines' default setting is Broad/Advanced Match. This gives them the ability to add more keywords to your campaign. Be careful! If you're not aware of this, you may be spending more money on keywords you don't want. The Exact/Standard Match option is usually the most profitable match type because it's the most targeted.

Patricia Hursh, president of SmartSearch Marketing, warned PPC advertisers against using Broad/Advanced Match for single-word keywords. She said that advertisers often experience a low click-through rate because many of the words and phrases automatically added to your campaign won't likely be as relevant as they should be. Instead, she recommended manually expanding your keyword list. Testing Broad/Advanced Match can be part of a phase two keyword optimization strategy. Want an example?

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