Keyword match types tell search engines and advertising platforms how you want your keywords to be triggered.

For instance, if you own a dental practice you may want your PPC ads to show for the search term

“dentist near me”

The quotation marks around a keyword signal that you want the words to appear in that exact order, but don’t mind if words show up before or after the phrase (this is phrase match). 

In this article, you will learn the advantages of the four most used keyword match types.

When used effectively in campaigns, the right keyword match types can help increase your return on adSpend and quality scores.  

Here are the 4 most common match types to use in your Google Ads campaigns.  

Broad Match Keywords

Oh, broad keywords, how I love and hate you at the same time. 

You are notorious for wasting budgets, but you also help us find valuable keywords.  And while I love your older brother (broad modified) the most, there’s no denying your value. 

Broad keywords are search terms without any modifier.  Basically, broad keyword match types allow your ads to show up for anything the platform feels is relevant to the term.  They can even show ads on search terms that don’t include your keyword at all!

This is why broad keyword campaigns tend to have lower quality scores and waste more of your ad spend than other keyword match types.  

For example, a broad matched phrase such as bicycle rack will trigger a PPC ad if someone is searching for variations of that phrase such as “bicycle racks,” “buy a rack for a bicycle”, “bicycle racks reviews”, and maybe even something closely related like “bike lock”. 

If your campaigns are brand new and you don’t have any historical data on what terms to target using broad match keywords will help you find the value terms that need to be peeled out and stuck into their own ad group.   

Phrase Match Keywords

Phrase match uses quotation marks to signal that you only want your ad to show when the keywords targeted show up in the exact order you placed them.  Unlike exact match, phrase match keywords allows other terms to appear before or after the search term being targeted.  For instance, you could target:

“cheap flight tickets” and your ads could show for terms like

  • “who has cheap flight tickets”
  • “cheap flight tickets to orlando”
  • “how to get cheap flight tickets”

Get it?  We use the phrase keyword match type when we want a set of key terms to show up in exact order but aren’t sure what words before or after that set might be valuable. 

Phrase match keywords are an excellent option for removing irrelevant traffic while not limiting your campaigns from potentially high-value traffic. 

Exact Keyword Match

The exact keyword match type specifies that your ad will only appear when there is the exact keyword or set of terms in the exact order you specify. In Google Ads, we use brackets to surround keywords, indicating that words will appear in that particular order and no other keyword variations.

ppc keyword modifiers

An exact match such as [keywords] is a common method that yields high conversion rates and helps to target relevant traffic.

Negative Keyword Match

Negative keywords are search terms you never want your ads to appear for.  You can use the keyword match types listed above on your negative keywords to specify how you want the negatives to affect your campaigns.  For instance, you might want to stop price shoppers so you would negative words like “cheapest” or “coupons”.  Or, if you are a local business you might want to remove state names or abbreviations for areas that you do not provide products or services. 

negative keyword match types

Using negative keywords is a great way to increase your quality scores, click through rates and conversion value.  Just be careful, they can also stop you from making your campaigns profitable.  Make sure you have enough data behind the keyword before you remove it.  

A Summary of Keyword Match Types

Keyword match types are super important to understand and use.  You should always start a new account or campaign with broad or broad modified keywords and then as the winners surface peel them out and put them into their own ad groups as a phrase or an exact match.  Just be sure to carefully watch you broad match campaigns so you don’t lose your shirt on low value search terms. 

If you’re interested in learning more about negative keyword research, here is an online resource for you to use.

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