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There are a plethora of mysteries hidden in Google & Yahoo’s search and advertising algorithms. We here in Account Development have long struggled to understand the precise function of the almighty Keyword Insertion (KWI). KWI is a function which allows a user’s precise search query to be inserted into the headline or body of a text ad. Our research has shown that text ads with KWI have higher Click-Through Rates (CTR) and often perform better than ads without KWI. But in our never-ending quest to write the best ads and build the best campaigns possible, we are constantly running into more precise and complex questions about how (and if) this “Keyword Insertion” function really works.

Let’s review the three Keyword Match Types in Google: Broad, Phrase, and Exact. Exact is rather self explanatory: if you have “used car” as an exact match keyword, it will only be triggered by a search query of “used car.” Any additional words or characters in or outside that search will prevent it from bringing up the ad. So a person searching “used black car” or “black used car” will not see the corresponding text ad for the Exact Match keyword “used car.” Phrase Match is slightly more lenient, allowing words to be tacked on either end of the keyword, as long as the precise word order is preserved. “Black used car” will trigger the phrase match for “used car,” but a search of “used black car” will not.

Then there’s Broad Match, or what I like to call “the necessary evil.” Broad Match is the fail-safe in your keyword lists. If you sell all types of used cars, but don’t want to (or forget to) list every make, model, year, or color, Broad Match *should* be your catch-all for any searches that include those variables. Unfortunately, Broad Match is imperfect by nature. For all the variables that it catches, there will be a few you wish it wouldn’t. Plus, on some longer-tailed keywords, it will occasionally drop one or more of the words, catching inaccurate traffic. All these factors become exponentially more complex when Keyword Insertion comes into play.

The double edged sword of Keyword Insertion is that the increased Click-Through Rate does not necessarily translate to a higher conversion rate. If a text ad headline more closely resembles what a user searched, they will often click on that ad. When it turns out you don’t actually sell “used black car seat covers” or whatever, they will not purchase anything from you, and the click was nothing more than wasted budget. When building large keyword lists meant to capture a very broad range of keywords, one must be especially careful with the KWI. Take the following text ad for example:

WHOOPS! This is NOT a Wpromote Account!

That’s a screen shot of an active text ad on Google. The headline clearly has nothing to do with the intended message. I really have no idea how something like this could slip by the person who built or manages this account. My only guess is that the account holder ran a large concatenation and this little gem slipped through editing. Unless there was some sort of malfunction between the Broad Match function and KWI function?

This rather extreme example only highlights the need to test your ads and watch them closely for errors. The entrenched opinion that KWI should be used whenever possible is slowly coming into the light of reevaluation. While it may not have the best CTR, a well written static headline will never steer you horribly off course. Always better to be safe than sorry: when in doubt, leave KWI out!


5 thoughts on “(4 Letter) Keyword Insertion
  1. Mike Mothner says:

    Great post Jeff. What I would really like to know, however, is what on earth you were doing searching for “kill a cop” to trigger this ad in the first place?

  2. Jeff Pickett says:

    I’ll let Josh field that one!

  3. Theodore Cohen says:

    KWI is definitely an interesting subject. What gets me is the ability it gives someone like ebay the ability to just create the largest campaign ever, and place it in there to pop up for just about anything. You’d be surprised at how many things you search for have the chance of triggering an ebay add, it’s a little jading.

  4. aquinn says:

    I came across another great example of KWI gone wrong today when checking a client’s listing for “extramarital relations” in Yahoo….

    Extramarital Relations
    Extramarital relations & More.
    100,000 Stores. Deals. Reviews.


  5. Josh Tauber says:

    Even gangstas use the internet yo. So i be lookin up how to kill a cop…

    I had been reading forum posts of bad adwords placements or something along those lines. I think one example was close to kill a cop. So out of curiosity I did a search on Google and boom, the topic for a blog post was born.

    You know thats why they call me the internet… “Wpromote has “tabs” on EVERYONE!”

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