Session-Based Matches? No Thanks!

Search Query Analyses are one of my favorite PPC analyses to run. Users’ queries can be hilarious as seen here, insightful &, well, downright irrelevant. Seriously, Google, how does sales training get matched to zebras for sale? While this might be the price to pay for selecting broad match keywords I can’t help but mention my gripe with Google because of session-based broad matches.

Of course, Google’s session-based matching logic as mentioned here and explained here, makes sense. Basically, Google is trying to understand the intent of the user’s current search to ultimately help the system deliver more relevant ads. So if you’re bidding on purple shoes, and a user searches purple shoes and then comes back and searches send shoes – your ad could show for send shoes (even though this is not your keyword) simply because it matches with the user’s session.

While this logic sounds great in theory, seeing these matches in action makes me question how much Google cares about their users and advertisers vs. how much they care about making money. No matter how hard I try, I just can’t figure out how eye exersizes (Yes, this was an actual query, not my typo) could be related to anything within our account. Yet Google thought it was a great session-based match. What stings the most is that it was an $11 click. While $11 is a microscopic portion of the budget, throwing in a couple of these costly irrelevant clicks could leave me with hundreds — maybe even thousands — of dollars worth of inefficient spend.

Unfortunately, I don’t believe that clients’ wallets are the only things suffering. If I can’t figure out how some of these broad session-based queries match, then I can only imagine every potential user’s frustration. If I’m searching eye exersizes, I’m looking for eye exercises, not sales training, even if that was something I searched for earlier. Plain and simple, sometimes there is no common theme between searches, yet Google’s session-based matching insists on making one. While some might say it’s because of my PPC background, I can’t help but get frustrated when I’m served irrelevant ads, so why wouldn’t other Google users be?

Sure, these irrelevant and costly session-based broad matches won’t happen all of the time, but it is hard to ignore that Google gets to cash in, regardless of relevance or possible user frustration. To me, that is just unfair. But since Google won’t let me opt out, I guess I’ll have to continue to be vigilant with my search query reports and negative keyword builds. What are your thoughts on session-based broad matches? Have you found a better way to approach them? Let me know — share your comments below!