How Keyword Match Types Work

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Google AdWords allows advertisers to use four keyword match types that determine which Google searches will trigger your ads. When you add keywords to an ad group, it’s a good idea to specify the match type for each keyword, rather than accept the default setting. The following sections describe each match type.

Exact Match

When it comes to explaining match types, we can use an analogy of a faucet. By using exact match, you are turning on the faucet just enough to get a small stream of water. With this match type, your ad will be eligible to appear when a user searches for the specifi c keyword in your ad group—for example, gourmet coffee, in this order and without any other terms in the query.

To set a keyword to exact match in your ad group within the Google AdWords web interface, you need to put brackets around it—for example, [gourmet coffee]. In AdWords Editor, you can choose the match type for each keyword from the Match Type drop-down menu within the keyword editing screen.

With this matching option set, your ads will appear only for the search query gourmet coffee, and nothing else.

Benefi ts of Using Exact Match Exact match provides the most control over which search queries trigger your ads. If you add [gourmet coffee] to your ad group, this is the only search query that will trigger your ad. On average, keywords with this match type have the highest CTR and conversion rate, because they are so tightly focused to only one search query.

Risks of Using Exact Match Using only exact match for your keywords will significantly hinder your campaign’s impression volume. The impressions you receive will be highly targeted and relevant, but you may have trouble increasing conversions.

Phrase Match

With this match type, you are opening the faucet more, but it’s not wide open. Now you’re getting a good stream of search queries. If you enter the phrase-match keyword gourmet coffee, your ad will be eligible to appear when a user searches on the term gourmet coffee, with the words together in that order. Your ads can also appear for searches
that contain other terms as long as they include the exact phrase you’ve specified (in this example, gourmet coffee).

To set a keyword to phrase match in your ad group, you need to put quotation marks around it—for example, “gourmet coffee.”

When loading the phrase-match keyword “gourmet coffee” into your ad group, your ads may also appear for the following search queries:

gourmet coffee
buy gourmet coffee
gourmet coffee reviews
gourmet coffee from Austria
best gourmet coffee in the world
how to brew gourmet coffee

Benefits of Using Phrase Match Phrase match keywords can expand your reach on Google, but you maintain tighter control than using broad match. With phrase match, you can target the search queries that trigger your ads by including qualifiers with your keywords. For example, let’s say you sell running shoes on your website. You may want your ad to appear for search queries related to running shoes, so you would add this keyword as phrase match. Your ads will appear when users append words at the beginning or end of your keyword, but the search queries must always contain the words
running shoes. Your ads won’t appear for just the word running or just the word shoes.

Risks of Using Phrase Match When users can append words to the beginning or end of your keyword, your ads may appear for search queries that are relevant, but the users may have no intention of buying. Users may append phrases such as the ones in the following list to your phrase match keyword running shoes:

Running shoes reviews
Career in running shoes industry
Articles about running shoes
How to fix running shoes
How to clean running shoes

Sure, these search queries contain your keyword running shoes, but the words surrounding them may indicate that the searchers are not ready to make a purchase.

Broad Match

If you don’t specify a match type using the preceding methods, Google sets the keyword match type to broad by default. Using the broad match type tells Google to display your ads in response to the widest variety of search queries. Continuing with our faucet analogy, broad match is like turning the faucet on full-blast. If your ad group contains the broad match keyword gourmet coffee, your ad will be eligible to appear when a user’s search query contains either or both words (gourmet and coffee) in any order. Your broad match keyword may also be matched to search queries that
contain synonyms, plurals, or misspellings, or other search queries that Google deems “relevant.”

To set a keyword to broad match, you don’t need to do anything to your keyword. Just upload it!

When loading the broad match keyword gourmet coffee into your ad group, your ads may also appear for the following search queries:

gourmet
coffee
gourmet coffees
buy gourmet coffee
gourmet Irish coffee
reviews of gourmet coffee
organic coffee shop
gourmet tea
buy gourmet tea

Benefits of Using Broad Match This match type has the greatest potential to expand your reach on Google. Your broad match keywords will be matched to a wide range of search queries. By using Google’s Search Query Report, you can learn which queries triggered your ads, and you can add these terms to your campaign. Broad match can aggressively increase your impression volume.

Risks of Using Broad Match The core benefit of broad match is also its core risk. Broad match keywords can be matched to numerous search queries that are not relevant for your product or service. Because it displays your ads on less targeted and frequently irrelevant search queries, your broad match keywords will have lower CTRs and conversion
rates.

Negative Match

Negative match keywords are like the water filters you place on your faucet to remove impurities. Negative match keywords filter your ads out from any search result pages when the search query contains one of your negative keywords. By removing your ads from irrelevant search queries, negative match keywords can help you reach the most
appropriate audience, reduce your CPC, and increase your ROI. Negative match keywords are especially useful when your account contains lots of broad match keywords.

When you load the broad match keyword gourmet coffee into your ad group and add the negative keyword -reviews, your ads may appear for the following search queries:

gourmet coffees
buy gourmet coffee
gourmet Irish coffee

However, your ads will not appear for the following search queries, because you’ve told Google to remove your ads from search queries that mention reviews:

gourmet coffee reviews
reviews of gourmet coffee

Benefits of Using Negative Match Negative keywords can improve your performance in two ways. First, by removing your ads from irrelevant search queries, you pay for fewer unproductive clicks. For example, if you find that search queries containing the word reviews generally don’t turn into sales, you can add this word as a negative match to your ad group, and your ads will no longer show for these searches. Secondly, by preventing your ads from showing on nonrelevant searches, you can reduce the number of ad impressions, which usually has the effect of increasing your CTR. Because CTR is one of the strongest influences on quality score, using negative keywords can really boost your keyword quality score and lead to higher ad positions at lower bid prices.

Risks of Using Negative Match Be careful when adding negative keywords to your ad group, because you may accidently remove your ads from relevant search queries. For example, if you are selling running shoes and you add the negative keyword -running, your ads will not appear for any search query that contains the word running.