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Google Adword Phrase-Match problems

Posted on 2003-12-09
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Last Modified: 2013-11-28
Has anyone had any problems with using the Phrase-match option for keywords in Google Adwords? According to Google's documentation, if you phrase match "tennis rackets" you will match against search queries as follows

x K y

where  K is the keyword (in this case "tennis rackets"), x are any terms preceding the keyword and y are any keywords suceeding the keyword.

However, the results seem completely unreliable. Anyone else had this problem? If you think you don't have this problem and have Google Adwords, check the phrase matching thoroughly. It's a total crap shoot whether or not your ads appear. I'd welcome any info what's happening.
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Question by:metalaureate
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11 Comments
 
LVL 4

Expert Comment

by:AsbjornG
ID: 9910037
Metalaureate,

Are you refering to actual searches you've made to check if your ad appears or not?

If so, I believe Google are balancing the display. This means that if your budget is set to lower than the estimated amount of daily traffic your ad will not always show on a search.

So even though the ad doesn't appear on one search once, it may appear on the same search at a different time and date. We can only guess exactly how this system works, but I do believe Google are balancing the ads served throughout a day (if not there would be loads of ads in the morning and only a few in the evening when daily limits are met!).

I hope this helps.

Regards,

Asbjorn
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Author Comment

by:metalaureate
ID: 9910091
Yes, I am referring to searches I have made to check if my ad appears.

I don't think balancing is in effect here: the phenomenon I refer to happens at all times of day and consistently. One piece of info I forgot to mention pertaining to this is that the ad will *always* appear if you type in the exact term that I have phrased matched.

However it consistently does not appear for some legitimate phrase-matched terms. E.g. "mission statement" by itself will bring up my ad. But "mission statement guidelines" or "how to write a mission statement" does not even though the keyword is phrase-matched in the ad. In all these cases there are only a few ads being displayed (i.e. this is not case of falling off the page).

Any ideas?
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LVL 6

Expert Comment

by:DoppyNL
ID: 9910587
Email Google about this and ask them what is causing this.
They should know your answer!
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Author Comment

by:metalaureate
ID: 9912263
I am doing that, but I've had no response from them yet. If Google is doing what I am claiming they are doing, it is a monster screw-up on their part. People's livelihoods are dependent on Google working reliably, and Google earns millions of dollars through their Adwords scheme. I would like to know if anyone out there has had similar problems with their phrase match options.
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LVL 24

Expert Comment

by:duz
ID: 9912440
metalaureate -

>....it is a monster screw-up on their part

Could not have put it better myself :)

Expanded broad matching is a kind of adaptive algorithm from their viewpoint and has what they unofficially call a 'learning curve'. It will get better but in the meantime it makes no logical sense in many cases.

>....I would like to know if anyone out there has had similar problems with their phrase match options.

Almost everyone.

- duz

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Author Comment

by:metalaureate
ID: 9912663
Duz, expanded broad match is different from phrase match. Are we talking about the same thing? I mean speficially those keywords in quotes. I did not know their extended broad match experiment effected phrase match. This is quite a serious issue for me, so are you *sure*? :)
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LVL 24

Expert Comment

by:duz
ID: 9913224
metalaureate -

Sorry I should have been more precise :(

The new system is that 'broad match' is now the default and you can 'Change all keywords to phrase match' and this is presumably what you have done. The system will not then create expanded matches for any of your phrases and you won't get additional terms (says Google). But since this method was introduced it would appear that not all 'phrase matchs' are considered 'phrase matches'. Maybe because the system considers them to be broad matches. No I am not sure just a theory...

- duz
0
 
LVL 4

Expert Comment

by:AsbjornG
ID: 9917543
metalaureate,

I made a test or two yesterday, and I found it pretty damn confusing as well.

My ad showed up irregularly on the first five searches I tried (I tried different phrases all including the phrase match term and with different third and fourth phrases. I also reloaded several times on each search.), without seeming to have any real pattern.

After a while it did not show up at all! Not on the exact phrase, not on phrase including my keyphrase.

So, for me it did show up once or twice during my first few searches, but never again after that.

Now this theory is a bit bold, but it could explain a thing or two:

Could Google be tracking which ads it shows you? If you don't click the ad after X impressions it stops showing you that ad for X minutes/hours/days. Possible?

Cheers,

Asbjorn
0
 

Author Comment

by:metalaureate
ID: 9917711
Yes, that is what it is doing. After spending on morning with Google here is the answer:

What Google doesn't tell you is that when you broad or phrase match a term, they monitor the CTR of the keyword combinations generated by your term. However, they only monitor about a half a dozen impressions on these combinations before deciding to exclude that particular combination is not getting enough clicks. However, half a dozen impressions is hardly statistically significant, so most of the combinations get cut off prematurely--the phenomenon you and I experienced. A 1000 is more like it. But, Google can't possibly monitor a thousand impressions of every related keyword to a particular phrase: there would be trillions of them and it might take years for some of then to reach a 1000. So, the mathematicians at Google arbitrarily decided to set the sample quota very very low, and then clothed this technical limitation in a lot of crap about how Google is optimizing your campaign for you. Nice, huh?

So, the only way to avoid this from happening is to go down a level of two and replace your general phrase matched terms with specific ones, as specific terms (those actually present in the Adgroup's list of keywords) are always given the statistically significant 1000 impressions.
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LVL 4

Accepted Solution

by:
AsbjornG earned 500 total points
ID: 9917791
Interesting indeed!

I'll have to re-think the way I do phrase matching, then!

Cheers,

Asbjorn
0
 
LVL 1

Expert Comment

by:desrosiers
ID: 9999462
hello,
At first i had the same problem.. i was thinking i was getting ripped....
what I did was download my categories into excel:
    use phrase matching:    [  ]

     [ first cat ]       |  price per click  |   your url  
     [ second cat]   |                        |
                           |                        |
                           |                        |
                           |                        |
       [128 cat]       |                        |
                       

I used excel because I was able to make 128 categories in about 15 minutes.
set per click at 20 cents:  budget was $50.00 a day
be sure to send them to a dynamic page , showing their results..
watch your results closely and weed out the ones with lots of impressions but low clicks...
watch the server side closely to be able to see what pages customers clickd and left the site..
work it from there...
maybe because of xmas but i was constantly  getting orders .....
i automated excel to retrieve the order, and print an invoice, first 3 days orders did not stop
it was like a broken slot machine, or atm machine........

hopefully this will help you, it sure did me $$$$
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