On the surface, keywords seem pretty straightforward: words or phrases used by search engines to highlight information. However, when advertising on Amazon through pay-per-click campaigns, using keywords effectively goes a lot deeper than picking a few descriptive terms. In this post, we’ll explore the three PPC match types to keep in mind when planning your strategy, including use cases for each and how to best use them in your campaigns, whether you’re considering phrase match vs. exact match or broad vs. phrase matches.
- There are three Amazon PPC targeting types: broad, phrase, and exact match.
- Understanding the difference between these types—broad being the highest level with the most reach, and exact having the narrowest focus but highest conversion rates—can help create an effective campaign.
- Using keyword targeting to properly structure a campaign can allow for flexibility and budget management without compromising presence in your search results.
What are the Amazon keyword match types?
In digital advertising, keywords are critically important. When selling a product online, customers are going to use different keywords and phrases to look for what you have listed. These are known as keyword matches:
- Broad match,
- Phrase match,
- Exact match.
Some shoppers might type full sentences, some might start broadly with a high-level word, and others may know what they’re shopping for but lack the knowledge of the precise term.
As such, picking keywords should be treated like an art form, not something arbitrary. With the right combinations, your product will appear near the top of the list with every search, but with the wrong ones, you’ll spend valuable ad dollars on irrelevant audiences.
When bidding on keywords, it’s important to make sure to differentiate between how close or far keyword choices are in relation to what you have listed in the marketplace. There are three Amazon PPC match types to consider: broad match, phrase match, and exact match.
Broad matches are the least specific and generally the cheapest keywords per click. If you assign a keyword as a broad match, your listing may appear as a search result whenever the customer uses the selected words, regardless of order or whether other words are added to your chosen keyword. This can also include synonyms, like “running shoes” in a broad keyword for “jogging shoes.”
- Broad match keywords expand the reach of your products and are associated with higher impressions.
- However, keywords that are too broad will result in your listing appearing in searches that are unrelated to what a customer is actually looking for.
Say, for example, you’re using the broad keyword “black boots.” While your ad will show up any time someone searches for black boots, this means it will appear in searches for “women’s black boots,” “men’s black boots,” and “kid’s black boots,” even though your product may not be applicable in all of these categories.
A phrase match is more specific than a broad match, requiring that all keywords be searched in the same order for your product to appear in the listings. Going back to the prior example, if your product is a pair of women’s black boots, a phrase match that might be effective is “black boots for women.” When a customer searches those words in that order, your product can appear at the top of the list. Words used before or after the keywords in a phrase match won’t be considered, so “tall black boots for women” will still yield results.
However, as phrase matches only apply when a string of keywords is used in the correct order, bidding on several similar phrases can be advantageous to ensure one improperly placed word doesn’t diminish visibility.
An exact match is, as the name implies, a specific keyword or phrase a customer will have to search for in order for your bid to be considered. Keywords used in a different order or other words before or after the chosen phrase won’t work in this instance, so an extra word added, like “tall” in the previous example, will not include your ad in the search results.
This may seem limiting, especially since exact matches tend to be the most costly, but they have the greatest likelihood of delivering precisely what someone is shopping for. Some things to keep in mind:
- Exact match keywords generally have the highest conversion rate.
- Plural words, conjunctions, and minor misspellings work for an exact match. “Tall black boots for women” will work just as well as “tall black boots woman.”
When should I use each match type?
As a merchant, you know your products best. Finding the right combination of broad, phrase, and exact match keywords will depend on how customers find your items, and what you’re selling. Understanding how each match type works and when they’re most appropriate can help maximize the efficiency of your Amazon PPC campaigns. Let’s explore scenarios for each:
Broad match use case
When used properly, broad match keywords ensure your product shows up in the highest number of searches. As such, broad match keywords are best used on terms that are closely linked to your product.
If your product is more generic and can be found in searches that don’t require excessive modifiers, broad keywords ensure you’re showing up in as many potential searches as possible. In addition, broad matches can be a good way to mine or test for keywords to see how customers are approaching the search. If you’re new to manual Amazon PPC campaigns, starting here can make it easy to see which keywords are and aren’t working without a substantial investment.
Phrase match use case
Phrase matches are where many sellers will have the most success, as it allows for keywords to be targeted without losing out on qualifications or modifiers customers may add.
If there are many different ways customers could break down your product, such as:
- It’s material,
- Gender preference.
Then phrase matches can ensure you appear in all searches that may apply. Many customers won’t get specific enough to search for every factor of your item’s description—customers are far more likely to search “women’s black boot” than they are “women’s tall black leather heeled boot,” so getting too specific might mean losing out to other sellers. A variety of phrase matches can keep you covered without delving into an expensive array of exact matches.
Exact match use case
Exact match keywords often require a proper strategy to get right, as they will only apply to a small pool of shoppers. As such, being able to balance the right level of specificity is important when using this kind of approach, particularly when weighing phrase match vs. exact match.
- Exact matches are most impactful when a product is niche and may not apply to a lot of consumers.
- Exact matches are also useful for a product that is generally searched for using standard keywords.
For example, something like “soft cat cone” will not apply to what most searchers are looking for on Amazon, but will attract anyone in need of an alternative cone to help a cat recover from injury—and that’s exactly who you want searching for your product.
How should I use match types to structure my campaigns?
How you use different match types to structure your campaign will depend largely on the products you have to sell. The results you want to drive via advertising compared to organic search are also important.
If you’d like to focus on controlling every part of the process, a manual campaign makes the most sense, though using an automatic campaign for the first few weeks—a topic to be covered later in this article—can provide a framework for moving forward.
When using manual targeting, you have the option to add multiple ad groups to your campaigns, but you’ll need to choose between keyword or product targeting.
- Keyword targeting allows you to rely on words and phrases.
- Product targeting uses details like product categories, names, and prices.
For sellers focusing on the separation of broad, phrase, and exact matches, keyword targeting is the most logical choice.
Once you have specified keyword targeting, you will have the opportunity to create keywords for each ad group, and set bids along with daily budgets. The kind of bidding strategy you use will depend on your budget and the time you have to invest in your campaign.
- High bids can get results quickly, but can be costly.
- Low bids may take more time to register results, but can keep costs manageable.
Since budgets can be controlled at the campaign level, separating these three keyword groups can ensure you’re allocating resources properly.
When setting default bids, take into account your target Advertising Cost of Sale (ACoS), the price of your product, and the conversion rate. Ideally, you will want to set a bid that’s high enough to win but low enough to keep your product margins in line with established goals.
Using broad match and phrase match keywords can be a way to refine campaigns in the early days of listings. By seeing what works on a higher level, it’s much easier to narrow down search terms moving forward. Take the time to see how your broad keywords play out before filtering them into higher-cost exact matches.
Spelling mistakes and keyword variations
Spelling mistakes and keyword variations should certainly be points of consideration in structuring your ad campaigns. Some customers may not know how to spell the words that apply to your products, or they may make typos, or choose to use abbreviations.
Amazon does take into account basic spelling mistakes, like inadvertently using a “z” instead of an “s” when making words plural. In addition, broad matches often include spelling errors and common synonyms automatically.
However, more notable misspellings, particularly when related to brand names, may become problematic in exact matches. If you’re seeing trends in spelling errors picked up in broad matches that are effectively filtering out potential conversions, consider including the most common variations in your keywords.
What about negative keywords?
Negative keywords keep your listings from showing up in search results that are not applicable to your products. If there’s another category of product that is close to yours but would not yield effective clicks or conversions, then consider using negative keywords.
For example, if you sell eyeglasses on Amazon, some negative keywords might include things like “drinking glasses” or “wine glasses,” as searchers who just use the word “glasses” could mean any applicable variety. This way, you won’t end up in irrelevant searches.
How many Amazon keywords can I have per ad group?
If you’re considering a broad base of keywords, Amazon’s limit for how many you can have may cross your mind. Rest easy: each campaign can have up to 1,000 keywords.
This said, attempting to use all or even most of these keywords is a common beginner mistake and one that can prove costly and negatively impact the success of your campaign. Rather than cramming a campaign full of keywords from the start, begin by using test runs and analyzing what’s working and what’s not. This can save you time and effort from bidding on every keyword that sounds kind of relevant.
Can I have the same keyword in multiple ad groups?
Simply put, yes, it’s possible to have the same keyword in multiple ad groups. But this is often counterproductive and is really only helpful when used in different campaigns where the keywords are targeting searches in different ways.
For example, using the same keyword in broad and phrase groups will not provide any real advantage unless you are using a more advanced setup. Usually, doing so allows Amazon to choose the version of the keyword with the higher bid, costing you more. Instead, plan ahead before grouping in order to put each keyword or phrase where it’s most relevant.
Can I automate this process?
To an extent, yes, there’s a way to automate your approach to advertising on Amazon. Each ASIN can have a manual PPC campaign, an automated PPC campaign, or both. While an automated campaign seems like an easier route, choosing this option can severely limit the amount of control you have in building a strong, responsive campaign with targeted keywords.
With an automated campaign in place, Amazon makes the call about when your ads appear, not you. Rather than ad placements based on the keywords and product categories you’ve targeted, Amazon uses the information from your product listing, like descriptions and titles, to determine where to place an ad.
The biggest benefit to automating ad campaigns is the ease of use. For sellers who want to set and forget listings, this is a good way to go. But there are disadvantages to this approach as well:
- You cannot optimize your bids based on the profitability of keywords, leaving your budget in Amazon’s hands, often placing the same bids for high-converting keywords and keywords that don’t convert at all.
- Amazon also defines the search terms, which may or may not be accurate in the long run.
However, automated campaigns can be a good way to get started with PPC on the platform, whether that looks like a new campaign or venturing into Amazon PPC as a new seller. Using an automatic campaign as a supporting way to find new keywords can help pinpoint long-tail search terms that work and those that don’t.
Get the best of both worlds
Amazon automation platforms, like ours, often come with advertising automation algorithms. Allowing us to manage both manual and auto campaigns to find the best keywords, adjusting bids daily in seller central for you. This gives you bidding transparency that auto campaigns don’t have. Sellers can use this transparency to help adjust the campaigns while still getting the time-saving benefits of an auto campaign.
By having our system look at your manual campaigns daily while providing you with a simple and straightforward interface, you are able to leverage the right keywords and the right price without the hassle.
Final thoughts on Amazon PPC match types
The world of keywords for Amazon PPC campaigns can seem overwhelming, especially for those new to the process. With a little practice and some time invested in setting bids and tweaking campaigns, setting up a structure that works can make a big difference in your Amazon sales results.