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4 keywords targeting options you should know

After your keyword search is complete, there's one last thing to think about

Laurie-Anne Nault

June 15, 2022

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What are the four key targeting options advertisers should be aware of when optimizing Google Ads campaigns?

The article delves into the significance of selecting the appropriate targeting strategy for Google Ads campaigns following thorough keyword research. It delineates the distinction between keywords, determined by advertisers, and queries, utilized by users for Google searches. The piece elucidates four targeting options proffered by Google to enable advertisers to correlate keywords with user queries: Exact, Expression, Wide Modified (Modified Broad), and Broad.

The Exact targeting modality ensures visibility solely when the query precisely matches the designated keyword, furnishing maximum control albeit within a confined scope. The Expression targeting category incorporates the specific keyword alongside additional terms before or after it, broadening visibility while upholding control. The Wide Modified targeting option permits the insertion of terms amid keyword occurrences, offering flexibility and control by denoting preferred terms with a ‘+’ sign. The Broad targeting choice is the most comprehensive yet least pertinent, encompassing similar variants, synonyms, and relevant variations.

The narrative underscores the importance of choosing targeting strategies predicated on desired volume and control levels, as Google does not simultaneously permit high volume and relevance. It advocates for striking a balance between volume and relevance aligned with campaign objectives, indicating that increased control may lead to diminished volume, and vice versa. The significance of adeptly managing auctions and keyword competitiveness is also underscored.

In summation, advertisers are counseled to meticulously ponder the provided targeting options by Google to refine the efficacy of their Google Ads campaigns based on their distinct goals and priorities.

After your keyword search is complete, there’s one last thing to think about: which targeting approach should you use for your Google Ads campaigns ?

Different types of targeting are more or less strict rules that determine the link between your keywords and users’ queries on Google’s search engine. It is important to understand the difference between these two concepts.

A keyword is a term carefully considered and chosen by advertizers. It is a word, or set of words, for which they want to be visible. A query is what a person uses to search on Google.

Ideally, advertizers define their keywords to ensure that these are as close as possible to user queries. A keyword is the “theoretical” term (advertizers want to be visible with this precise term and not another). The query is the “practical” term (in practice, users have their own terminology when they search on Google). For example, if an advertiser chooses the keyword “evening skirt” for their campaign, they would not be visible on a similar query such as “evening dress.”

This could become very restrictive for advertisers; this is where the types of targeting options come into play. The types of targeting options will therefore be used to broaden the scope between keyword and query. This is made possible by the intelligence of Google’s algorithm that analyzes the semantic similarities between each word.

Google provides its advertizers with 4 targeting options to play with and make associations made between keywords and user queries.


Source: Market motive

Type of targeting [EXACT]

Your ad will be visible if, and only if, the query used is identical or close to the chosen keyword, without adding other terms. For Google, related terms include: spelling mistakes, inclusion of plural or singular keywords, acronyms, suffixes, prefixes, accents and abbreviations. With this type of targeting, you have maximum control over your visibility: you know when you are visible and for what term. Your campaigns gain in relevance by only appearing for terms you know. However, you have to take into account the very limited scope of this type of targeting, which is often likely to make you miss business opportunities on terms you may not have considered.
Example :
Keyword : [Evening dress]
Eligible requests: evening dress, evening gowns, evening dres,
Non-eligible requests: black evening dress

Type of targeting “EXPRESSION”

A more inclusive variant of the exact targeting type is expression queries. Your ad will be visible if the query includes your exact keyword as well as the addition of a term before or after it.

This type of targeting helps to broaden its visibility and keep a relative level of control. However, to keep optimal control with this type of targeting, it will be essential for the relevance of your campaigns to associate a list of negative keywords so that the terms are not out of scope with the ad.

Example :
Keyword: “evening dress”
Eligible requests: store evening dress, black evening dress
Non-eligible requests: sequined evening dress

Type of targeting +WIDE +MODIFIED (Modified Broad)

Let’s widen the reach even further without losing a certain level of control. This type of targeting helps to insert a term among the occurrences of a keyword. This type of targeting is flexible since you can tell Google whether you want to keep all your keywords or just part of it. This selection will be made by placing a ‘+’ sign in front of the terms you want to appear in queries in their exact form. However, remember that if close variations, such as spelling mistakes, inclusion of plural or singular words, abbreviations or acronyms will be taken into account, Google will nevertheless exclude synonyms.

Similar to expression queries, this type of targeting gives advertisers more options to include as many queries as possible and allows them a certain amount of control with the indication of ‘+’ and a list of negative keywords. It is often not necessary to add the ‘+’ sign in front of defined items or prepositions (a, the, etc.).

Example :
Keyword: +dress +evening
Eligible requests : sequined evening dress, buy dress to wear in the evening, dress for party
Non-eligible requests: day dress, evening pants

Targeting type WIDE (Broad)

This last type of targeting is undoubtedly the most inclusive and by far the least relevant. It is quite rare to see advertisers use this type of targeting. Indeed, this type of targeting includes all the close variants previously defined as well as synonyms of keywords and variations that Google considers relevant. In other words, in practice, it translates into anything and everything. Even with an extensive and intelligently thought-out list of negative keywords, it is not possible to manage the large volumes of variants that this type of targeting generates.

Example :
Keyword: evening dress
Eligible requests: summer dress, evening pants, karaoke night, cheap dress, fancy dress party
Non-eligible requests: –

Choose the types of targeting strategies based on the volume you need and the level of control you want to achieve. Google does not allow both volume and relevance. One will always be to the detriment of the other. In fact, the amount of your auctions will also vary in order to be more competitive on keywords for which you want more control.

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Laurie-Anne Nault
Determined, ambitious and passionate, Laurie-Anne Nault has already acquired several years of experience in administration and customer service. She joined the Turko Marketing team in October 2021 to fulfill the role of administrative manager and social media manager.