How Providers Can Optimise PPC Campaigns To Drive More Leads – Part One

ede1ebac95bb4cdfe3ea914e2d5392af?s=50&d=mm&r=g Kelvin Chan
Chief Marketing Officer

When it comes to driving more leads and sales for your business, Google Ads is a powerful tool.

Despite Facebook and other social media platforms stealing the limelight when it comes to digital marketing, Google Ads will always have one element that trumps the rest: user intent.

Exploring User Intent:
Facebook Ads vs Google Ads

Often positioned as arch rivals, Facebook and Google are not opponents when it comes to the digital marketing space (speaking in a practical sense).

Both being paid advertising mediums, Facebook and Google do function similarly, in that they both allow education providers to promote their services entirely online. However, ‘paid social’ and Facebook Ads appeal to providers as it functions in a way where users are targeted via their interests, online behaviours and habits.

Google Ads is different. ‘Paid search’ helps providers find new students by using keywords, rather than being matched with a user based on interests and behaviours.

AdWords helps providers find new students, while Facebook Ads help students find providers.

As a result of Google Ad’s keyword-focus methodology, providers know that their ads will be placed in front of an audience that is interested in a particular course or subject, made up of users that are keen to explore their options now.

When a student searches for your keyword, they have dedicated time to researching factors such as different subjects, courses, study options and course fees, that all come together to influence their decision to study. When these factors combine, it is clear that this prospective student has significantly more intent, and is more likely to convert once they have clicked through.

Understanding Match Types in Google Ads – What Not To Do

Without a doubt, one of the biggest factors that can make or break a Google Ads account are the four keyword match types.

To the untrained eye, the keyword ‘accounting courses’ may look like a great contender in the Google Ads space – using this term as an example, here is a breakdown of what you must consider when selecting your keyword:

  • Broad Match

    This is a keyword setting that allows an ad to display when a user searches for that keyword or a variation of it. Taking our example keyword into consideration, we need to make sure that we are happy with what these variation keywords may be. Our ad might appear for other keyword phrases such as ‘bookkeeping courses’, alongside our chosen keyword. Yes, this is a related subject area, but would a user click this ad if their intent was to find an exact match for a bookkeeping course?

  • Modified Broad Match

    This function is a step up from ‘Broad Match’, and effectively means that your ad will only show if all of the target words are used in the search string (in any order/combined with additional non-targeted keywords). By adding a ‘+’ sign in front of your keyword/s, for example ‘+accounting +courses’, this function could display an ad for the search term ‘uni courses in accounting’. This function is more accurate compared to the above, but we need to consider that it could pull search terms that again are not relevant to us. What if we were a provider that only offers Certificate III and IV courses? The money spent to acquire the click has the potential to be wasteful.

  • Phrase Match

    Another level up, Phase Match is a setting that allows your ad to show when a search includes the exact phrase of your keyword, or close variations with additional words before or after. For our example keyword, we could see our ad appear for terms such as ‘accounting courses sydney’ or ‘accounting courses near me’. This isn’t the worst result, but we still need to consider wasteful scenarios. If we only offered online courses, we could be paying for location keywords that are not useful to us.

  • Exact Match

    Exact Match is the tightest of match types and ensures the utmost relevance. It means that your ad will only show when the user searches for ‘accounting course’ or ‘accounting courses’. Bidding on exact match keywords allows you to exercise tight control over your advertising budget (in theory), however, in saying that, the issue with exact match is that we have the potential to miss out on valuable long-tail keywords. When we limit ourselves to ‘accounting courses’ only, we box ourselves in and lose out on valuable traffic that is generated by high-intent search queries.

How To Choose the Right Match Types For Your Keyword Strategy

A Google Ads account cannot depend on one single keyword match type to do all of the heavy lifting – this is why it is important to consider them all when deciding on which keywords you should be targeting.

What you need is an approach that delivers all the variations you are looking for, while simultaneously eliminating the money-wasting keywords that do not make sense.

A simplistic way of doing this is to use the broad-to-narrow keyword strategy.


  • Begin with 'broad match' keywords

    By starting off with this match type, you expand the likelihood of your ads showing up in relevant searches. As broad match is the default match type format for ad groups, you shouldn’t need to make any modifications to your initial keyword list.

  • Next, keep a close eye on your keywords' performance over time

    Here is where you begin to whittle down your keyword list. If you come across too many irrelevant keyword variations for your ad, you can combat this by adding negative keywords to prevent these inappropriate matches going forward.

  • Explore the search terms that prompted your ads

    Once your keywords have collected a sufficient amount of impressions and clicks, you can then view what the users who landed on your ads actually searched for with Google’s ‘search terms’ report.

When using this report, consider the following:

  • Analyse how closely your users’ search terms are to the keywords you are using – this can be seen in the ‘Match Type’ column. Do the search terms that spark your ads match your keywords? Use this data to further tweak your keyword match types. For example, if you used ‘social media marketing courses’ as a keyword, then you may see ‘social media marketing courses’ with ‘Exact’ as the match type. This suggests that the users who searched for this exact phrase landed on your ad.
  • Explore foreign keyword concepts – your ads may be delivering for terms or phrases that you weren’t aware that users were searching for. You should add these phrases as new keyword terms.
  • Investigate ‘negative keyword’ concepts – if you come across keyword terms that are triggering your ads that shouldn’t be, add these particular terms as negative keywords.

There are an abundance of factors that come into play when crafting the perfect Google Ad.

Now that you’ve got a basic strategy structure in place, keep an eye out for part two of our series – where we will delve into Google Ad optimisation in further detail, exploring next steps once they have perfected their keyword list.

ede1ebac95bb4cdfe3ea914e2d5392af?s=100&d=mm&r=g Kelvin Chan
Chief Marketing Officer

Kelvin is the Chief Marketing Officer at Candlefox. He is responsible for coordinating and actioning all marketing activities right across the Network to ensure the best possible experience for prospective students and clients alike.

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