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Exact Match Data or Broad? Which is better?

Look at the keyword research data on this screen capture from the Google Adwords keyword tool and then tell me the answer to this question:

“Which is better to use for analyzing potential traffic when creating your primary target keyword – “exact match” or broad match???

see FULL size version

Open keyword research data FULL SIZE in a new window

Do you see how the broad match search volume for medicine sports is so high – yet the “exact match” is so low???

If you asked me – this keyword – medicine sports – would be a BAD primary target keyword.

If you get a top ranking for medicine sports you are NOT going to get the broad match traffic.

The exact match traffic is what that backwards keyword really gets!

I personally feel that I would rather look at the EXACT data representing the exact search as it is typed in by the searcher.

That’s how Google looks at it.

Broad match does not reflect the volume that a keywords will get with a top ranking  – only EXACT MATCH accurate indicates potential volume for a top ranking.

The “exact match” data more accurately reflects what the target is capable of in volume becase it does not include all the other possibilities that borat, er, I mean broad match includes.

If you only look at broad match data it is deceiving. Even if you get #1 for medicine sports it will NOT bring you very much traffic. In fact that 170 volume is pretty low.

You don’t get rich by getting number one for low volume keywords.
Take the above example and compare the Global Search Volume for

medicine sports

which has a broad match volume of 368,000 which seems very high.

If you change the Google Adwords setting to “exact match” however the gloabl monthly search volume drops to 170 – yikes!

And for me – 170 just isn’t enough to justify making it my primary target keyword.

The reason it dropped to 170 from 368,000 is that the PHRASE is backwards. No one searches for medicine sports – they’d search for sports medicine maybe – but even then – the BROAD MATCH data ALSO includes words BEFORE – AFTER – IN BETWEEN the keywords! You’d have to target EVERY POSSIBLE VARIATION which is next to impossible and would require too much time!

If you target the wrong BACKWARDS keyword – it will be more challenging to work it into articles because no one ever really says medicine sports naturally.

If you look at exact data you see that – 170 is actual usage! No one talks like that or writes like that – so why target a keyword like that?

I do not! You shouldn’t either.

Target keywords that make sense when you read them out loud!

Do not target keywords that are backwards or shuffled in different order!

It’s harder all around and the payout wil be less in the long run than if you qualified your target keyword with more accuarte search volume data such as that from “exact match”.

That’s why BROAD MATCH data is not good for picking your primary keyword targets.

It might be OK to look at to get an idea of ALL the possible searches including the keyword – but the truth is – we can’t adequately target that many keywords anyways.

I believe it’s much more effective to find several “exact match” keywords with more realistic volume data to target rather than go after broad data that is pie in the sky and unattainable – so why even look at it?

It’s deceptive.

If you want LOTS of traffic you need to focus your initial efforts on a PRIMARY Keyword Target which gets a good volume as shown in “exact match” data.

I say 200 minimum per month “Exact Match” Global Volume for beginners. If you have experience getting top rankings then over 1,000 “exact match” at the low end for intermediate level web publishers.

Otherwise if you target under 200 exact match volume you’ll be building pages for keywords that won’t bring much traffic.

So – start checking that EXACT MATCH box when you do your keyword research! You’ll have an advantage over those who are fooling themselves with the BROAD MATCH data!

Now – if you find this interesting you should really go check out my full article on this at the Blogging Undegrround forum.

The post is called More Keyword Targets are Better!

Mike Liebner

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  1. SEO Quake is excellent for determining the competition strength, ie backlinks and Page Rank. It’s another example why exact word search is better than broad search.

    Comment by text message marketing — July 19, 2011 @ 12:01 am

  2. Ah wow, thanks for the clarification Mike!

    I’ve always been looking at “Broad Match” during keyword research, and after following your advice, it’s apparent that I’ve been targeting the wrong keywords… (Doh!)

    Thanks again!

    – James Francis

    Comment by James Francis — July 19, 2011 @ 7:49 am

  3. Hi, Mike
    Thanks for giving this information to me.

    Comment by MarkDMC — July 25, 2011 @ 11:00 pm

  4. I would guess “exact” would be the one.


    Comment by Len — July 30, 2011 @ 2:58 am

  5. I use only the exact match keywords for the analyzing because it gives the best estimation of the amount of the revenue that can be generated by getting a certain amount of traffic.

    Comment by free online fax — July 30, 2011 @ 12:01 pm

  6. Thanks for sharing these useful tips 😉

    Comment by silverlight developer — August 8, 2011 @ 9:39 pm

  7. I agree Mike, and since I switched from looking at broad to exact matches, I’ve seen more success with my efforts. In certain situations I’ll look at phrase, but rarely at broad.

    Comment by Carl Weber — August 10, 2011 @ 7:28 pm

  8. I’ve been using broad matches when looking for products to promote. I’ll use the exact from now on to see if it is really a product I want to promote or not. Thanks for the info.
    Brenda S.

    Comment by Brenda — August 12, 2011 @ 12:23 pm

  9. I avoid broad match in all of my keyword research. Although it is interesting to see the potential for a given keyword I only want to target exact keywords that I know will bring me substantial traffic.

    Comment by Mom Freebies — August 18, 2011 @ 12:07 pm

  10. you say,

    “Personally I rarely look at competition data such as allintitle: because all it indicates is HOW MANY pages there are with the phrase.

    “I know that with what I do for SEO I only need to worry about the top 10 or 20 – so I would rather EYEBALL what’s on the page and then make a decision based on my GUT FEELING”

    Can you explain this more? E.g. you are examining a keyword “cheap calls to India”. You get heavy duty calling card sites on the first page, such as Pingo, callingcards.com, raza, however these are not targeted to this keyword. How do you decide if it’s worth competing?

    Comment by John Dime — October 18, 2011 @ 11:16 pm

  11. Determining which one to use, either exact match or broad match, is very critical. Making a wrong decision on this could mean wasted time and effort on the campaign. Thanks for giving light on the subject. Valuable stuff here indeed.

    Comment by prostate cancer pittsburgh — October 21, 2011 @ 4:43 pm

  12. I’ve always thought that as long as there are keywords in it, they are all equally effective. This article will be really helpful to those who are starting up and to those who hasn’t known that exact match could turn out to be misleading.

    Comment by Hendersonville real estate — October 22, 2011 @ 4:17 am

  13. Getting into medical school is no easy task but the process has become a business. The price of medical education has increased steadily and admission has become more difficult.  Being a doctor is an amazing thing but people are often times entering into programs that are based outside of the states and these programs fail to prepare students for what residency programs have in store for them.  Unfortunately Politics has entered the arena and the practice of medicine isn’t what it use to be.   Some of the most capable people in our society are leaving school jaded with huge loans and are subsequently significantly underpaid.  The average graduate owes hundreds of thousands of dollars and is required to spend anywhere from 3-8 additional years in residency while making approximately 40K-50K all while paying heavy loans amounts back.  All in all its an amazing life choice but the costs are heavy.

    Comment by Buck Davern — October 27, 2011 @ 7:37 pm

  14. Very clear explanation Mike. This post will help a lot of people from targeting the wrong keyword. Unfortunately I had to learnb this lesson the hard way. I targeted a KW which had good ‘broad’ searches but didn’t pau any attention on the ‘exact’ count, which was less than 200 by the way. Short story, I got the website ranked on the first page out of 92M results but the site was a flop. Had to let it go eventually.

    Comment by Eimis — November 23, 2011 @ 3:03 pm

  15. First of all clap for Mike!

    Thanks Mike you shared an important aspect of Keyword Research.

    Secondly I’d agree with ‘John Dime’, as he mentioned in his/her post quoting your ones “Personally I rarely look at competition data such as allintitle: because all it indicates is HOW MANY pages there are with the phrase.

    “I know that with what I do for SEO I only need to worry about the top 10 or 20 – so I would rather EYEBALL what’s on the page and then make a decision based on my GUT FEELING”

    I also want to know more about this from you Mike, please elaborate this for us.

    And what I know about “allintitle:” means Google will show you those results which are using that particular keywords (i.e allintitle:cheap shoes) in their PAGE’S TITLE and not in PAGE or Content.


    Comment by Rizwan Maqsood — December 18, 2011 @ 1:49 pm

  16. Figures reveal that nearly 80% of all serious site owners need linkbuilding solutions to launch his or her organization for you to better height. With all the improving number of …seo

    Comment by Seo url — January 14, 2012 @ 12:52 am

  17. Great article. Back when I had just done my first website, I had read and watched some videos by a well known internet marketer who would always use the broad match.

    Comment by Natural Stone Jewelry — February 5, 2012 @ 5:28 am

  18. A few years ago, I bought a clickbank product that taught me the wrong way. Lesson learned after I tried to build my first site they way they instructed. I use a combinations of exact and phrase, twitter searches to see how much interest there is in a particular keyword and market samuari. I tired Micro Niche Finder but found it to be inaccurate. Great info, thanks.

    Comment by Frugalvoice — March 30, 2012 @ 8:18 pm

  19. Broad match just gives you an unrealistic vision of the niche you want to target. Instead target multiple exact match keywords that you deem high value.

    Comment by Baby Coupons — October 9, 2012 @ 8:12 am

  20. I use exact match almost exclusively. Every once in a while I’ll switch to broad just to see the overall scope of the category I’m researching.

    Comment by Baby Coupons — October 18, 2012 @ 2:57 pm

  21. Instead of short keywords, long tail key phrases will be better, it will serve for high quality relevant traffic, low cost as well as it will organically bring your website forward towards the niche keyword.

    Comment by Derrick — May 15, 2013 @ 7:52 pm

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