When Several Keywords Match a Search Query, Which One is Used? - Part 1

Monday, October 17, 2011 | 5:00 PM

Only one keyword from your account is allowed to trigger an ad per search query. The examples below describe what happens when multiple keywords in your account match a single search query at the same time.

Please note that you can use the Find Duplicate Keywords tool in AdWords Editor to check whether you have multiple identical keywords in your account. (AdWords Editor is a free, downloadable application for managing your AdWords account. Learn how to download it, if you haven't already.)

Within the Same Ad Group, Multiple Keywords are Similar to the Search Query

Within an ad group, you might have several similar keywords that match a query. For example, the broad-matched keywords "plumber course" and "plumber training course" could both match the search query "training course for plumber".In this situation, the AdWords system uses a set of preferences to determine which of your keywords to use. The preferences rank approximately in the following order:

Use a keyword that matches the query exactly, rather than using one that doesn'tIf you have a keyword that is identical to the search query, the system will prefer to use this keyword to trigger an ad. This is true even if there are other keywords in your ad group that are similar to the search query.

For example, if the query is "plumber course", and both a broad-match keyword "plumber course" and phrase-match keyword "plumber" exist in your ad group, the system will prefer to use the broad-match keyword that matches the query exactly.

When keywords are the same but have different match types, use the keyword with the most restrictive match type
If you have multiple keywords that are the same, the system will prefer to use the keyword with the more restrictive keyword match type.

For example, if the query is "plumber", and both a broad-match keyword "plumber" and exact-match keyword "plumber" exist in your ad group, the system will prefer to use the exact-match keyword.

Use the keyword that has the highest Ad RankWhen several broad-match keywords in your ad group broadly match a search query, the system will prefer to use the keyword with the highest combined Quality Score and cost-per-click (CPC) bid. We call this combination "Ad Rank." Here's an example:

Query: plumber training course
Keyword 1: plumber course, Ad Rank = 1.5
Keyword 2: electrician training course, Ad Rank = 1

Keyword 1 will be preferred because it has a higher Ad Rank.
However, the AdWords system has some exceptions that may apply to all of the preferences listed above. The exceptions to the preference rules shown above may occur when:

One keyword is contained within anotherWhen one keyword contains the entirety of another keyword, the system prefers to use the longer keyword. This is an exception to the Ad Rank rule above. Here's an example:


Query: training course for plumber
Keyword 1: plumber course
Keyword 2: plumber training course

Keyword 2 will be preferred because it contains all the words in Keyword 1
There is a cheaper keyword with a higher Quality Score and Ad RankOn rare occasions, the system will prefer to use a keyword that is cheaper (i.e., it has a lower bid), has a higher Quality Score and a higher Ad Rank. Here's an example:

Query: plumber tool
Keyword 1: plumber tools (maximum CPC bid = $0.10, Quality Score = 7, Ad Rank = 0.7)
Keyword 2: plumber tool (maximum CPC bid = $0.15, Quality Score = 4, Ad Rank = 0.6)

Ordinarily, Keyword 2 would be preferred because it matches the query more closely than Keyword 1. However, Keyword 1 is cheaper, has a higher Quality Score, and has a higher Ad Rank. Therefore, the system will prefer showing Keyword 1 in this instance.

Keep in mind that Quality Score is calculated every time your keyword matches a search query -- that is, every time your keyword has the potential to trigger an ad.


Posted by Omar Selman - Google AdWords MENA

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