The 5 Types of Keyword Matches on Google Ads for SEO

 

Keyword Matches


What most people don’t realize is that the keyword match types you select have a bearing on the results you achieve. For AdWords (now Google Ads) keywords, there are five different match types. 

You need to know each type in detail so that you can make the right decision regarding which ones you want to add to your campaign.

These are the five main keyword match types:

  • Broad match (max reach, min relevance)

  • Modified Broad match (slightly lower reach, greater relevance)

  • Phrase match (medium reach, medium relevance)

  • Exact match (min reach, max relevance)

  • Negative match (usually used to increase the relevance of the website visitors)


Pro tip: what PPC specialists need to take into account is that Google keeps modifying the definitions of these match types, making every match type broader. 

In 2019, exact and phrase match keywords include many more variations than just two years ago. 

It doesn’t make sense anymore to include misspellings and typos as separate keywords: now they are recognized and included as close variations of the “original” keyword.

Broad match


Broad match keywords are the ones that enable you to reach the widest audience possible, letting you drive a larger volume of traffic to your website.

Broad match is the default match type used by Google Ads. If you add keywords just as they are (without special symbols such as [ ] and +), you need to be ready for Google to show your ads for a much wider range of search queries. 

Broad match type keywords have the most drawbacks of the three options: the traffic your website will receive won’t be refined; most visitors will be random individuals who stumbled across your ad; moreover, some of the keywords your ads will be shown for can be totally irrelevant to the theme or topic of your website or blog. 

Broad match keyword: women’s hats

Matching searches:

buy ladies hats

women’s clothing

women’s scarves

winter headwear for women

Broad Match Modified


This match type allows you to gain more control over your search appearance and increase the relevancy of the traffic you attract with PPC ads. This is how modified broad match keywords look:

 Broad Match Modified keyword: +women’s +hats

Matching searches:

women’s scarves and hats

winter hats for women

hats for stylish ladies

Phrase match


Phrase match keywords lie somewhere in between: they are more focused than broad match keywords but less so than exact ones. This does provide you with greater flexibility in terms of getting visitors to your website.

In phrase match keywords, additional words can be added either before or after, but not in the middle of the key phrase.

Phrase match keyword: “women’s hats”

Matching searches:

blue women’s hats

buy hats for women

ladies hats on sale

Exact match


Exact match keywords are the diametric opposite of broad keywords. As the name clearly states, these keywords are based on exact search queries and terms, down (or almost) to the last detail. The search query has to match the keyword exactly for the search engine to trigger your ad to show up. This makes this the most difficult of all types of keyword matches to conquer. However, the traffic you generate through exact match keywords is curated and easier to convert for you.

Exact match keyword: [women’s hats]

Matching searches:

women’s hats

ladies hats

hats for women

hats women

The probability of an exact match is low, so the traffic you get to your website will be lower than you drive through broad or phrase match keywords. To increase the volume of traffic, you will have to add more keywords to your campaign. Still, the fact that the chances of conversion are highest means that even low traffic could boost your sales.

Negative match


Let’s suppose you sell interior paints. You will advertise your products for people looking for paints, finishes, enamels, water-based and oil-based paints, etc. But you don’t want your ads to show up for art paints - gouache, watercolor, tempera and so on.

Negative match keywords will solve this problem. With this keyword type, you can exclude your ads to show up for certain search terms.

Tip: when adding negatives, you can use all the abovementioned match types to determine how strict these restrictions should actually be. See this Google article for more detail.

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