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Breaking Down the Different Google Ads Match Types

December 4, 2018
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At any given moment, there are millions of search ads being served to different individuals across the world through keyword targeting. Because there are so many complexities in the way people search for products or services on the search engine, it’s important for marketers to understand how all the different keyword match types work. This is done to identify the proper mix between all the different match types to achieve the best possible ROI. Match types give you the power to control how relevant a search term needs to be to match your keyword and trigger your ad.

There are 4 different match types available in Google Ads, the following illustration from Google does a good job at breaking down what those are:

Exact Match

This is the most targeted parameter available out of all the different match types. When this is implemented your ads will only be triggered when someone conducts a search for the same exact keyword you are targeting.

Phrase Match

Ads may show on searches that match a phrase or are close variations of that phrase, with additional words before or after. Ads won’t show, however, if a word is added to the middle of the phrase, or if words in the phrase are reordered in any way.

Broad Match Modifier

The broad match modifier is achieved by placing a + simple in front of any words in your broad match keyword that must be present in the search query before your ad is eligible to show [1]. This match type has a wider reach than phrase and exact match keywords but have tighter control and reach than broad match terms.

Broad Match

The weakness of broad match keywords is that they can be triggered by literally anything even remotely close to the keyword; when you added the broad match keyword “hammock” to your newest campaign, you probably didn’t intend for the search “banana hammock” to trigger it and show your ad [2]. We often use broad match keywords when starting paid search campaigns from scratch, as we may not intuitively know more specific searches that people might be using. This match type gives you the most reach but the least control.

Negative Keywords

These are technically not considered a match type but they are definitely worth noting. As the name suggests, these keywords allow you to filter out impressions for unwanted terms. This is a crucial part of any paid search campaign as they allow you to better control ROI.

The diagram below provides a visualization of how each of these different parameters relates in terms of reach and relevancy (broad vs. sharp)


Source: https://www.how2dodigitalmarketing.com

Where to Go from Here?

Every brand, product, service, etc. is inherently different so there is no general rule of thumb of what will work best. Depending on your monthly budget and goals, you’ll want to spend a good amount of time determining the proper balance between keyword match types. If you have no prior historical search data, you would typically start out with broad match keywords. This will let you cast a wide net and once you have enough data, you should be able to determine which types of queries perform best for you. From there, you should build out exact match keyword based on the search queries from the broad keywords. Using negative keywords, you can hone in on very specific keyword audiences and ensure that your ads are put in front of the right prospects.


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