Broad Match Keywords and Other Match Types

Broad Match Keywords and Other Match Types

Keywords are an important aspect in Google’s search advertising platform, but the way you use them is equally as important. The system is programmed to trigger ads when keywords are used by searchers; however, you can configure your campaigns to only have ads triggered when keywords are used in certain ways. This helps get more targeted traffic for your ads, and it also helps to only show your ads at the right times to the right people.

What are match types?

In general there are:

Broad Match Keywords

Phrase Match Keywords

Exact Match Keywords

The term “match type” refers to operators that can be included with your keywords to control what ads are triggered when a searcher enters a relevant query. By default, all keywords entered into an account are a broad match keyword. This means that Google will match a broad variety of phrases related to that term or phrase. This can be effective when your product/service or use of your product/service has broad appeal and applications. Much of the time, however, using a broad match keyword is not the way to go.

Match Types

The chart below shows all the different match types that are available in your Adwords account. The chart also shows how to configure the keywords in your account so that Google will recognize them by their different match types.

Chart including Broad match keyword example

Broad Match Keyword

The broad match keyword configuration is the default option in Adwords for all keywords. If you just type in your keywords or add them using Google’s keyword tool, they will be broad match. When these match types are used, Google will trigger your ads whenever there are relevant variations like misspellings, related searches or synonyms.

If you want to capture the highest volume of search traffic, having your terms be broad match is the way to go. Most of the time, however, you should be looking for more targeted traffic. By using a more specific match type, you can get users who are typing in exactly the phrases or terms that are in your ads. Users who see an exact configuration of terms that they were using in their query are much more likely to click on the ad. The drawbacks to using broad match keywords are that you will get a lot of traffic that may not see your ad as relevant. As a result, you get tons of impressions and no-clicks, which will drive down your click-through rate. Once that happens, your quality score begins to suffer.

Broad Match Keyword Modifier

This match type is very similar to phrase match; however, Google will trigger ads no matter what order the searcher’s terms are in. Google will not show your ads for related searches or synonyms if your keywords are configured in this way. The modifier is good if you want a little bit, but not laser-beam focus in terms of targeting.

Phrase Match

This match type will tell Google to only trigger ads when the exact word or phrase is matched in a string. Synonyms, related searches or a keyword phrase that is in a different order will not trigger the ad. If a phrase is found in the form you have specified, even if there are words before or after the phrase, ads will be triggered. In contrast to broad match keywords, exact match will deliver you far less traffic, but it will be highly targeted.

If your target audience is using very specific queries to find products or services that you offer, phrase match is a good way to draw them in. For example, searches with product names, model numbers, and/or specific locations are good scenarios in which to use phrase match. In general, people use longer queries to find what they are looking for online. Assuming the rest of your conversion funnel is optimized well, using phrase match can help you convert traffic at a much higher rate.

Exact Match

Like phrase match, exact match keywords will also trigger ads when the exact term you have associated with your ads is used. The difference is that when someone puts a word before or after your exact match term, your ad won’t show. Exact match pretty much tells Google, “match this word or phrase and only this word or phrase and nothing else.” This also works well for converting small amounts of traffic. The end goal here is to sell some kind of product or service. It is far better to get 10 people coming to your site who buy something than 100 who buy nothing.

Negative Match

This match type causes ads not to be shown when certain keywords are present. For example, there may be words commonly found with other words, but that you don’t want traffic for. You may want traffic for the term “women’s hats” but not “baseball hats.” You could enter “baseball” as the negative match type.

Search advertising is very cool because we can use the exact terms that our customers use to show them relevant ads. The trick is getting Google to show our ads based on searcher intent. The way we do that is by using match types. Broad match keywords aren’t that effective at bringing in traffic that will convert. They are more of a shotgun approach, which is seldom useful. Instead, by using the other operators, we can send highly targeted traffic to a website and those visitors will find the content relevant.

How do you use keyword match types in AdWords? Have you been able to increase campaign performance using them? Let us know by leaving a comment!

Shawn Manaher

Shawn Manaher is the founder and CEO of The Content Authority. He's one part content manager, one part writing ninja organizer, and two parts leader of top content creators. You don't even want to know what he calls pancakes.

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