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How to Decide on The Most Effective Keyword Match Type

A Match type is a way of organizing keywords in your AdWords campaign. Match types help rein in and regulate what searches trigger your ad to show up. An eye-opening comparison may be between broad match and exact match. Broad match allows you to reach a wide range of people searching for a keyword while exact match enables you to really narrow down your search for the precise audience you would like to be seen by.

For example, if you were tasked with driving traffic to an ecommerce site specializing in the distribution of a very specific item such as Nike running shoes. The first thing you would want to put is [Nike Running Shoes] in brackets to make sure the site is served (or at least has a chance to be) for those who type in Nike running shoes. This is known as exact match. Broad match on the other hand would be Nike running shoes without brackets; quotation marks; or plus signs in front or surrounding the word/phrase. When deciding on appropriate match types for a keyword, google typically recommends using a broad to narrow strategy.

To elaborate on this technique, first you would start with broad match and or broad match modified keywords to maximize the potential for your ads to be seen on relevant inquires on the google search engine. A highly notable fact would be that broad match is the default keyword match type, so if you add a keyword to your master list either via the search terms tab found in AdWords or from your mind, chances are it will be broad match until you change it the way you see fit for you or your client’s needs.


Gauging how you are doing

As soon as you’ve gathered enough data via impressions and clicks of specific keywords, head over to the search terms tab of AdWords to get a better understanding of what words people are actually typing in and searching for.

Following are a couple of tips for using the information gathered in the report:


  • Examine how you are doing by looking at the “search terms” section and how they compare to your selected keywords.

Use this information to adjust your keyword match types. Returning to a previous example, using Nike running shoes as a keyword, you may see Nike running shoes with [Exact] as the match type. This translates to people who searched for the exact phrase [Nike running shoes] saw your ad.


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  • Discover keyword ideas.

You may have an ad that is triggered by terms that you hadn’t thought of. browse these keywords for ideas that may not has struck you yet.

  • Find negative keyword ideas. If your ads are triggered by search terms with no relevance to your end goal, add these terms as negative keywords. This feature will help keep those who are searching for similar words but different end products out of the search reach.



Broad Match

Broad match keywords ensure you get the farthest and widest reach, while offering the least relevance.

There are no special symbols necessary to make your keywords broad; you simply type the word as you would normally. The scope of broad match is so vast it will even be triggered for misspelled words, synonyms, searches that relate in any way, essentially any term Google considers to be relevant variations of your keywords. Needless to say, this means that terms need not even be in the search term anywhere and your ad can still show. This can be costly fast.

For example, let’s say guitar shop is your broad match keyword. This would match to any search terms that mentioned guitars, shops, or any synonyms or related terms as determined by Google.


+Broad +Match +Modifier

Now that we have covered three of the four of the different possible match type variations now it’s time to talk about broad match again, just modified a bit. Broad match can be modified by putting plus signs in front of the keywords you are choosing to use. Modified broad match can be quite useful for those of us who are looking to be more specific than broad match but not as specific as exact match. Now more options often lead to more questions. You may be asking yourself, when is the best time to use the broad match modifier?

broad match modifier is an excellent path to take if you’d like to expose your ads     to higher levels of intended impressions while sifting out the inaccurate ad views you are likely to receive by standard broad match type. If prioritizing direct response for your ads, opposed to concentrating on brand building, broad match modifier is often the only recommended variation of the broad match options to consider. Note, the standard broad match option can be very useful when generating keyword ideas though your search que reports, although, understand your end goal and how to approach your negative keyword strategy to pair with this.

As with negative keywords, using Broad Match Modifier allows you to successfully filter traffic to the highest targeted ad-group for the campaign with relation to a search que; which can promote healthy CTR’s as well as great quality scores – all capable of lowering your cost per click.

You might have gleaned from the above table, there are often cases where multiple match type variations can be eligible to show for the same search. Not to worry, having multiple match type variations are eligible isn’t much of an issue because Google will reveal the match type variation with the highest quality score. however, you will have to avoid keywords that conflict or are duplicated, for this will be averse to the direction you’re working towards.

It’s important to remember if your campaigns and ad-groups are heavily expanded with broad match keywords, converting these all to broad match modified will likely cause huge decreases in impressions. Make sure you preform thorough analysis of search query reports so to include any targeted synonym variations that may not otherwise be picked up by broad match modified keywords.


One of the easiest way to think of match types and variations is the broader the match the further the reach but also the less the relevance to what traffic you are after. Broad match is the most far reaching as well as the least relevant. Exact match is the most relevant to the traffic you are attempting to funnel.


“Phrase Match”

Setting a keyword to phrase match is as easy as putting quotation marks around it. A term will match to a phrase match keyword, when it contains all the words; or close variants in the keyword in the same order. The search term is able have other words before or after the phrase but not in-between.

Let’s use our example of “guitar shop” in a phrase match variation. This would only match search terms that have the words “guitar” and “shop” directly next to each other, with no terms in between. The search terms can have additional words before or after the phrase “guitar shop”.


[Exact Match]

Exact match keywords provide the lowest reach but highest relevance. Brackets around keywords sets them to exact match. Only search terms that exactly match the keywords in brackets will cause your ad to show. All the words would be present, also in the same order, and no words before, after, or in between.

The exact match keyword [guitar shop] will only match to search term guitar shop, no additional words, or close variants.


Close Variations

At this point you’ve probably asked yourself, what are some close variations? Close variations of keywords could include misspellings, singulars/plurals, stemming from, acronyms, accents, and abbreviations. What’s important to note is that close variants do not include synonyms.


By: Ken Soracchi, PPC Coordinator

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