If you’re going to play in the world of SEO and PPC, you need to understand the differences between broad, phrase and exact keywords.
The number of searches will vary by thousands upon thousands whether you use a few words without any modifications, with quotes to contain the phrase or brackets to lock in an exact match.
Why the discrepancies?
Here’s what Google says:
Broad: “Synonyms, misspellings, and many other related searches, including searches that don’t contain the keyword terms.”
Phrase: “Close variants include misspellings, singular and plural forms, acronyms, stemmings (such as floor and flooring), abbreviations, accents, implied terms, synonyms and paraphrases, and variants of your keyword terms that have the same meaning.”
Exact: ‘Close variants include searches for keywords with the same meaning as the exact keywords, regardless of spelling or grammar similarities between the query and the keyword.”
Learn more from Google: Choose the right keyword match types:
The not-so-funny thing is that the Google tool defaults to broad match and people blindly run with the data.
Exact match is more precise and excludes other words. Google in some cases does allow for some slight variations of a keyword phrase.
Not surprisingly, broad match keywords are not as expensive with a wide array of keyword scenarios that may not be close to watch you had in mind with the phrase in the first place. With exact match, you mostly get what you expect and pay a premium price for that precision.
Ultimately, it comes down to conversions. Are people connecting with a business based on how they search?
I like phrase match the best because I can often get paid search ads to appear higher for less money than using exact match. I wouldn’t rule out broad match for paid search, but anyone using that option is increasing the odds of paying for clicks from people who don’t want the product or service being advertised. Phrase match opens the door to more searches because of assorted keyword searches that aren’t as risky as broad match. You may target a phrase, but your ad can appear for more search terms than your original phrase.
Besides, you can’t really optimize for all of the variations that paid search allows – like “time management software” plus other word combinations. You should target “time management software” or something less competitive if you have trouble ranking.
Choosing keywords for search engine optimization is no small task, but you can do it.
First of all, it’s not a good idea to just sit in a room and pick keywords off the top of your head. Yes, I know people do that. It happens.
You can’t simply look at the keywords competitors use and go after those as well.
And there isn’t a secret formula that search engine specialists have that you lack as a small business owner or manager.
Some companies have developed keyword selection methods and ranking systems that can begin to help you decide whether a keyword is a good fit for your strategy. Many keyword research databases have data like how often a keyword phrase is searched or how many other web sites seem to be targeting it.
I always direct marketers to SEMrush. See what that tool shows in the Domain Overview. For example, if your top 10 keyword phrases typically have 10-200 searches a month, you should start with keyword phrases in that search volume range (your sweet spot). If you go after a keyword phrase with 5,000 monthly searches, you might not ever get to the first page of Google.
Here are a few extra tools: