PPC Keyword Match Types: How To Not Lose All Your Money

Meet The Author

Name: Andy Corby
Position: Systems Director
From: Southampton, UK
Expertise: AdWords & Web Development

What You’ll Find In This Post…

  • Guidance on the different keyword match types available
  • Examples of how to use each match type
  • Handy charts on how to use match type symbols and the type of reach each will get

Today, I have the pleasure of guiding you through the most exciting and compelling topic of Pay Per Click Advertising: Keyword Match Types. If you want to know how to organise your Adwords campaign properly, You’ll need to know about how google places its keywords into these different categories.

Now I (probably) know what you’re thinking: ‘Why are you bothering with an introduction? I’m so excited to read about match types, that if I wait any longer, I might actually cry’

I understand your enthusiasm, so let’s begin with taking a look at the different symbols used for each match type:

Match Type Symbol Matches To Example Keyword Matches To
Broad example text Misspellings, synonyms, related searches, close variations Cake shop Sweet treats store
Broad Match Modifier +example +text Search terms that include all words with a ‘+’ in front of it, or close variant +cake +shop Cake making shop
Phrase example text” Search terms that include the keyword phrase without any keywords in between, or a close variant cake shop” Local cake shop
Exact [example text] Search terms that are only that word, or a close variant [cake shop] Cake shop

According to Google  close variants include: misspellings, singular forms, plural forms, acronyms, stemmings (such as floor and flooring), abbreviations and accents. 

Broad Match

This is the default match type Google will use if you do not specify otherwise and is displayed in a campaign as a standard word with no other symbols around it. It’s also my least favourite match type on a personal level, because we had a falling out last year and I’m still not quite over it.

Using broad match means your ad will appear for search queries that include any word(s) from your key phrase in any order, or synonyms relating to other words that Google considers similar. Broad match will also display your ad for misspelt keywords, which can lead to you finding interesting searches from people who don’t know to spell the word ‘professional’.

Example broad match for the keyword ‘Cake Shop’ – Sweet Treats Shop, Cake Store, Wedding Cakes, Cakes to Order, Anniversary Cakes, Cake Design.

You get the idea, broad match allows your business to reach the widest possible audience, but will often lead to your ad being displayed for searches that are not relevant.

When using broad match, always check your Google Analytics for other tools for the search queries you’re attracting traffic through. In Google Analytics, this is can be found under AdWords in Search Queries section – You’ll need to link your AdWords and Analytics accounts first to access this data, so stop being lazy and get around to doing that.

Modified Broad Match

I’m certain that it was William Shakespeare himself who first suggested that he ‘preferred using modified broad match to standard broad match’, but this is a subject of much debate amongst scholars all over the world, so don’t quote me (or him) on that one.

With modified broad match, you put a plus sign (+) in front of one or more words in a broad match keyword. The words that are preceded by a (+) sign must appear in the users’ keyword phrase exactly or as a close variation.

Example modified broad match for the keyword ‘+cake +shop’ – Shop Online for Cakes, Tiffany’s Cake Shop, Top 10 Best Cake Shops, Cake Making Shop, Shop for Wedding Cakes.

Modified broad matches are the bridge between broad matches and more restricted match types as it allows you to reach a wide audience similar to that of a broad match, but with more control.

Phrase Match

Using Phrase Match is like having a good friend who is always recommending you movies (keywords) based on a few things you’ve told him that you like (a phrase order). Sometimes he gets it wrong, but 90% of the time he’ll get it right and you’ll remember why you started hanging out with him in the first place.

Phrase matching ensures your ad only displays for searches containing your keyword terms in the exact order that you provide, with other words possibly before or after.

Example phrase match for the keyword “cake shop” – Local Cake Shops Near You, Tiffany’s Cake Shop, Online Cake Shop, Birthday Cake Shop.

To use phrase match in Google AdWords, simply type your keywords in the order you would like them to appear and use speech quotation marks at the start and end of your phrase.

Using this match type reduces the likelihood of your ad being displayed in irrelevant searches and in this sense, it is one of the best ways to ensure your campaign is targeted and cost effective.

Exact Match

There are no funny quips about Exact Match. Exact Match is serious business and is not to be joked about in any circumstances.

Exact match does exactly what it says on the tin, however it now includes very close variations of your exact keyword phrase. ‘True’ Exact Match no longer exists.

So if you’re still trying to promote your amazing cake shop business and your keyword is [cake shop] your ad will only show for people searching that exact term or a very close variant. Most of the time it will be the exact phrase, but occasionally people who used incorrect spaces or the wrong letter.

To use this match type in Google you will need to type your key phrase in the exact order you want it to appear, and surround it with brackets.

This is the most targeted match type and should only be used for terms you’re sure will deliver adequate search volumes.

I know, match types can be confusing so we have put together a simple diagram to help you remember the basics:

Well, that’s it from me and I hope you now have a much clearer understanding of Google AdWords match types and how to use them!

The Author

Name: Andy Corby
Position: Systems Director
Email: [email protected]
Expertise: AdWords & Web Development