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Google Ads Keywords Explained With Examples, Pros And Cons

Google Ads Keyword Matchtypes Explained With Examples, Pros & Cons

What are keyword matchtypes?

One of the first things that you will have to deal with when creating a PPC campaign is choosing your keywords. This means deciding on what match types to use for each keyword.  

The match type of a keyword will determine the kind of traffic that your ads can show for. Set the wrong match type and you risk picking up irrelevant traffic that is going to burn through your budget. Conversely, picking the wrong match type may also result in losing out on relevant traffic that would have been profitable.

There are four keyword match types that you can choose from in Google Ads. These are:

  • Broad match
  • Broad Match Modified
  • Phrase match
  • Exact match

Each match type has it pros and cons and there isn’t one match type for every keyword in every account. The specific match type you use will depend on your individual requirements, budget and the actual keywords that you’re targeting.

Google Ads Keyword Matchtypes

Broad Match

The Broad match type is the default match type in Google Ads. This means if you add a new keyword and don’t change the match type option or wrap the keyword with any special characters, then Google Ads will consider this a Broad match keyword.

This match type is the broadest match type available in Google Ads. It allows Google to show ads on searches that it thinks are relevant with your keyword.

Your ad can show on plural, synonyms, misspellings, function words, and searches that Google thinks are similar to your chosen keyword.

Show ads on searches that Google thinks are relevant to your keyword.

How to add: Simply add the keyword as normal without any additional special characters. Google Ads creates keywords as Broad match by default.

Examples of the kind of searches that a Broad match keyword will match with

Here are some examples of he kinds of searches that Broad match keywords can match with:

Pros of the Broad match type

Casts a very wide net – This means you don’t need to do a lot of keyword research and add in a large amount of keywords

Smaller campaign – Seeing as though fewer keywords need to be created, this means you have a smaller account that is easier to manage

Search term matching has improved – I’ve noticed that the quality of traffic being matched by the Broad match type has improved even though I still don’t use this match type

Cons of the Broad match type

Very little control – You have very little control on the kind of traffic that you’re bidding on. Almost all control on the kind of traffic that you bid on has been given to Google.

Difficult to tailor traffic – If a lot of your traffic is coming from the same keyword then it is difficult to tailor the search experience by having a specific ad and landing page for each keyword theme.

Broad Match Modified

The Broad Match Modified match type is similar to the Broad match type in that it still casts a wide net but it gives you much more control. This is a match type that I use quite a lot in conjunction with the Exact match type.

With this match type your ad will show if the search contains all of the words in your keyword. The words can appear in any order and any number of other words can be in the search as well.

Show ads on searches that atleast contain each word but in any order.

How to add: select the Broad match type and add a ‘+’ symbol before each word of the keyword

Examples of the kind of searches that a Broad Match Modified keyword will match with

Pros of the Broad Match Modified match type

More control than the Broad Match Modified match type – You have a lot more control than the Broad match type. This is because you can choose what words have to be present in the searches that your ads show for.

Pick up broad searches with long tail keywords – You can target broad searches whilst ensuring that the traffic you target is highly relevant with the use of Broad Match Modified keywords with three to five words in them.

Cons of the Broad Match Modified match type

Still requires a lot of negative mining work – While the Broad match type gives back a lot of control compared to the Broad match type, it still requires a lot of negative work to remove irrelevant traffic.

Less control than Phrase match – Phrase does give more control than a Broad Match Modified keyword.

Phrase Match

The Phrase match match type adds an extra layer of control compared to the Broad Match Modified match type. Your ad can only show if the search contains the exact phrase of your keyword. A search term that contains a word in between your keyword cannot show. So for example if you have a keyword ‘rent a property in leeds’ as a phrase match, then your ad won’t show when someone searches for ‘‘rent a two bedroom property in leeds’.  

Show ads on searches that contain the exact phrase and anything else on either side.

How to add: select the Phrase match type or add double speech marks on either side of the keyword

Examples of the kind of searches that a Broad Match Modified match keyword will match with

Pros of the Phrase match type

More control than the Broad Match Modified match type – Phrase match gives more control than the Broad Match Modified matchype because you can specific what order the words in your keyword need to appear. For example, there is a difference between ‘mens shoes sale’ and ‘mens shoes for sale’. The former is most likely a search for men’s shoes at a reduced price whereas the latter is most likely looking for men’s shoes to buy. With the Broad Match Modified matchtype, you would be picking up both of these searches with the keyword +mens +shoes +sale.

Useful for when the keyword order is important – If you want a keyword match type that allows you to bid on longer tail keywords, but the order of the keyword is important to you, then the Phrase match option would be preferable over the Broad Match Modified option.

Cons of the Phrase match type

Less control than the Exact match type – Phrase match has less control than the Exact matchtype which lets you almost choose exactly what searches your ads show for.

Can unnecessarily bloat an account – If Exact and Broad Match Modified keywords are being used, then while Phrase match keywords can help to segment traffic a little more and give more control, they can also unnecessarily bloat an account. This will make an account larger and more difficult to manage. This is why a lot of accounts that I see don;t use Phrase match keywords. They use Exact match keywords to gain most of their traffic and then Broad Match Modified keywords to find new areas of traffic to target.

Exact Match

Exact match used to be so simple to understand. Your ad would only show if the search matched your keyword exactly. However, over the years, Google has slowly been making Exact match less… well… exact. The Exact match keyword keyword now includes search for misspellings, plurals, abbreviations and function words.

The Exact match type provides the most control but on the flip side, it also means you need to create a large amount of keywords if you want to cover all the traffic that would be relevant to your business.

Show ads on searches that exactly match the keyword – with some exceptions.

How to add: select the Exact match type or add square brackets around the keyword

Examples of the kind of searches that a Broad Match Modified match keyword will match with

Pros of the Exact match type

The highest level of control – The Exact match keywords gives the highest level of control. This means that your bid and ad copy can be tailored the most to your keyword.

Least amount of negative work required – Seeing as an Exact match keyword won’t match for many searches outside of the exact keyword that you have chosen, there is less chance of your keyword picking up irrelevant traffic. This reduces the chances of wasting spend on irrelevant searches and it also means that you don’t have to dig into your search query reports to see what traffic your picking up as much.

Good for low budget accounts – If you have a modest budget and need to tightly control the searches that your ads are shown on, then he Exact matchtype is for you.

Cons of the Exact match type

No keyword expansion insights – Seeing as though the Exact matchtype will not match on longer tail searches, finding new keyword areas to target is difficult with this match type. For example, if you have +illuminated +bathroom +mirrors’ as a Broad Mach Modified keyword, then when you look in your search query reports, you may find that you’re picking up a lot of searches for ‘illuminated bathroom mirrors with bluetooth’. You can then start targeting relevant keywords that contain Bluetooth and look into getting a separate landing page created for illuminated mirrors with Bluetooth.

Often have high competition – Exact match keywords often have the highest amount of competition because the chances are, if you have been able to think of these keywords, then there will probably be other competitors who have thought of those keywords as well. This is isn’t to say hat you shouldn’t bid on Exact match keywords as there is often a reason why a keyword is highly competitive – it’s a good good keyword.

Some General keyword match type suggestions to maximise ROI

Here are some general suggestions on getting the highest ROI with your keyword matchtypes:

  • Never use broad match – I’m just going to say it. if you’re using Broad Match. You’re doing it wrong
  • Focus on Exact Match – Most of your traffic should be coming from Exact Match keywords. If not, then look in your Search Query reports to see if there are more high volume terms that can be added in as Exact match
  • Use non Exact match keywords to find new keywords to target – According to Google 15% of searches are new that have never been searched for before. This means it’s almost impossible to pick up all of the relevant traffic available to you with just Exact match keywords
  • Review your search Query reports to find irrelevant traffic – If you’re using non exact match keywords, then be sure to review your search query reports to make sure your ads aren’t being shown on any irrelevant searches. Irrelevant searches should be blocked out.
  • Review search query reports for exact match keywords as well – With Exact match keywords not being quiet ‘exact’, you should be reviewing the searches being picked up from your Exact match keywords as well.
  • If budget is tight only run Exact match keywords – If you’re just starting out on Google Ads or if you have a very modest budget, then only use Exact match keywords. This is because you have a lot more control on the kinds of keywords that you target and can easily drops bids or pause the specific traffic that isn’t doing well.

Putting it all together

Here are all the previous examples of searches that can potentially be matched with each match type:

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