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Beware Latent Semantic Indexing!!

DPFOC provides Adwords consultancy and in the course of doing this, I meet an increasing number of people who say “I don’t care what anyone says….Adwords is a waste of money!” Obviously Google Adwords is an effective form of advertising as it allows advertisers to put their advertisement in front of potential buyers at the precise moment they are researching that product or service. So why are so many people disillusioned with Adwords? I think Google itself is to blame. At this stage, every business owner has received a free €50/£50/$50 voucher from Google to get them going with Adwords. Added to this is a free-phone number on the Adwords homepage that people can ring to get going. Business owners inevitably want to try it out and so give it a shot but most decide “it doesn’t work.” Why! The reason is simple. In the hands of Google Adwords Qualified Professionals with Google Analytics Proficiency / Expertise, Adwords is an incredibly powerful tool. However, in the hands of a novice (which Google seems to be encouraging as per above) it really can be a total waste. Even for those who take time to research and figure out a bit about how Adwords works, one thing that Google conveniently chooses not to tell advertisers is the danger of broad match and LSI. When Adwords came out first, if someone put in “wooden table” as one of their target key-phrases and left this as broad match, they could be assured of pretty targeted traffic from this key-phrase as their ad’ would only appear if a search was performed that contained the term “wooden table.” However, with the advent of latent semantic indexing (LSI), Google has come up with a way to show advertisers ads for a far wider group of keywords and phrases than the unwitting advertiser had in mind. Take the above advertiser selling wooden tables. If this term is left as broad match, the advertiser can expect to have their ad’ show for everything from “wooden chairs” to “how to varnish wooden skirting!” The keywords specified by the advertiser don’t even have to be present – if Google thinks the search term relates to the keywords specified by the advertiser, they will show the ad’ and the advertiser will get clicks from people with no intention of ever making a purchase.

If you have an Adwords account and have included some broad match terms, chances are you are wasting money paying for clicks from people you never wanted to target. To find out exactly what the person who clicked on your ad’ actually searched for, select the “see search terms” tab from within the keywords section – take a deep breath before you realise just how much latitude Google has being allowing itself in terms of its definition of being relevant to your target keywords.

I would suggest that broad match is now far too dangerous due to Google’s practices and so should either be used with great caution (including many, many negative keywords to prevent unwanted clicks) or not at all. Personally, I feel broad match relinquishes too much discretion to Google and has no place in an Adwords campaign. Even phrase match keywords need to be carefully monitored.

Alas, the majority of people who attempt a DIY Adwords campaign with no expert consultancy only figure out the above having blown their online budget with Google paying for loose, low value clicks that will never convert! Like anything, if you want it done right, go to the experts!

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