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Prevent Mismatch with These Paid Search Solutions

Rich Kahn

If you’ve ever searched for something online, you’ve probably clicked on an ad. In fact, I’ll bet you’ve searched for something in the past few days. Did the ads show you exactly what you’re looking for, or did you research using a different query because the search engine had it all wrong? Is it possible that your advertising is giving users the same unpleasant experience?

Your paid search efforts are driving users crazy, and here’s some reasons why you’re frustrating and annoying them.

When They’re Looking for Something Specific

I know you’re busy, but that doesn’t mean you should neglect your keyword list. Keyword lists that are too broad can cause your ads to be seen by the wrong people or not at all. Trust me, a little bit of work into your keywords goes a long way. There are free services and tools that build your keyword list for you. But they’re free for a reason. These tools may save you time, but they could end up costing you money.

If you’re selling sneakers, you’ll be tempted to use ‘shoes’ as one of your keywords. If you use an automated tool, your keyword list is going to look a lot like this:

Keyword list

Pretty repetitive, huh? A keyword list like this is too broad, and isn’t going to give users the intended results. If I’m searching for hiking boots for my daughter, I don’t want to see an ad for Payless. That’s why you'll need to use keywords more specific to your product. Otherwise, users will take a wild guess and are often disappointed with the result.

Pro tip: Be more like Chaco (and less like Payless) in this example. They did a great job with their description, including the words ‘lightweight hiking boots for women’ and ‘trail hiking boots.’

Be specific in ads

When you’re selling a particular product, sometimes it pays to be more specific. That’s why I suggest you use free tools sparingly and rely on your experience to manually build your list.

The Ad Doesn't Take Them Where They Expected to Go

Search engines help take the guesswork out of finding sites that have what you need. It’s frustrating for users to search for a product or service, click on an ad, and get taken to the wrong page.

Let’s say a user searches for ‘women’s soccer cleats’ and sees this ad:

Zappos paid search ad

It’s what they’re looking for, right? It’s from a relevant website, and the description clearly says the site offers women’s soccer sneakers. Now what if I told you that clicking on this ad took the user to Zappos’ Nike page?

Where are the soccer cleats?

Um, where are the soccer cleats? The user expects the landing page to take them to where they can purchase soccer cleats, not the brand’s landing page. This is poor message match because an ad like this is forcing the user to do more work than they were ready, or willing, to do. Extra legwork is frustrating and often results in a user going back to the search results and clicking on another ad.

Your destination URL should take people where you say you’re taking them. Otherwise, you run the risk of paying for clicks that don’t convert.

When the Ad Isn’t for What They Searched

Have search results ever misled you? We’ve all been there, and you can fix this is by refining the keywords used in your keyword list. Search Engine Guide explains how frustrating it can be when you’re looking for a specific product, but are misled by a reputable site.

I recently decided that I needed an extra charger for my cell phone. So I searched for an ‘Apple iPhone 6 car charger’ and clicked on this ad from Best Buy:

Search for Apple Phone Car Charger

Imagine my disappointment when I got to Best Buy’s page and I was greeted with this:

Disappointing search results

This is where negative keywords would have come in handy. Negative keywords help you refine a user’s experience and help you show up in more searches that are relevant to your product by eliminating it from irrelevant queries. (Think: ‘use this, not that.’)

When the Ad Doesn't Deliver on Its Promise

If I've learned one thing from business, it's this: if you promise something, you better deliver on that promise. The same idea also goes for your advertising.

Say an ad promises you 15% off of a $75 purchase with a code. You click on it only to find that they meant free shipping on a $50 purchase using a completely different code. You’d feel duped, wouldn’t you? You came onto the site expecting one thing, and then were given something completely different.

This hurts the advertiser on their tracking since the redemption code SHOPSEPT could be exclusive to paid search and can tell them if the person got to the site from clicking the ad. For the searcher, 15% off could be far more lucrative than free shipping (think high-end, expensive shoes). So how do I get that code, or is this already marked down 15%? Confusing, isn’t it?

We call this confusion “Message Mismatch.”

Message Mismatch

Your ad copy needs to match your landing page. If you mention a promotion in your ad, you need to have the same promotion featured on your landing page. Pulling the old bait and switch isn’t going to get you any conversions, after all. Poor message match just leaves your customers angry and confused.


If you’re going to use paid search, you want to do it right. If you’re doing a good job, you’ll see an influx of real, live customers coming to your site. And with these customers come conversions. (In other words, you’ll be bringing home the bacon.)

Let’s face it, you want people to click on your ads and buy something. It’s just good business. Keep them coming by providing them the best customer experience possible when they click on your ads. Give them what they ask for, and don’t try to trick them into other areas of your site. If you’re making good on what you promise, you can kiss your paid search frustrations goodbye.

Do you have additional tips for preventing mismatch in paid ads? Please leave your comments and suggestions below!

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Rich Kahn is the CEO of eZanga.com. He's been a leader in the online advertising industry since 1993. Rich started eZanga.com, an online marketing firm specializing in pay per click advertising, in 2003 with his wife, Beth. In Rich's spare time, he enjoys coaching and playing soccer, martial arts, watching movies and vacationing with his family.
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