Google AdWords Keyword Match Types

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Google AdWords Keyword Match Types

What makes Google AdWords an excellent marketing platform is the degree of flexibility it provides.

You determine exactly which keywords you want to bid on and your budget for each day. Additional options include being able to target specific regions, a great option for businesses that have primarily local customers (e.g. service industries).

To effectively advertise on AdWords, you need to identify keywords that are most relevant to the products or services your business offers. Once you set bid on those phrases your ads will display in the search results anytime your keywords are searched for. There are different keyword match types to choose from when creating your first ads.

Here we take an in-depth look at the different keyword match types and why choosing the right type matters to your campaign. These factors are critical to the success of any PPC campaign.

What Are Keyword Match Types?

With AdWords you have the option of making your campaigns as broad or as narrow as you want with the different keyword match types which include:

  • Broad match
  • Broad match modifier
  • Phrase match
  • Exact match

Understanding the different keyword match type options allows greater control over which searches can trigger your ads.

Broad Match Type

Broad match is the default type where all keywords you enter are assigned and allows your campaign to reach a much wider audience. With the broad match type, the AdWords system displays ads for searches that include synonyms, singular and plural forms, and even related searches.

For example, if you enter in “luxury car” as a broad match type your ad will be displayed when users search for:

  • Expensive cars
  • Luxury resorts
  • Rent exotic vehicle

If you are looking to test the waters and have a larger budget to work with, broad match enables you to reach the widest possible audience. But the obvious downside is that searchers might see and click on your ads for irrelevant searches.

Consider the following ads that trigger for the search “rent exotic cars”:

The second result doesn’t match the intent of the search. Regardless, searchers are seeing this ad and likely costing the company money.

Broad Match Modifier

Broad match modifier offers more precise control over who sees your ad. Adding the “+” parameter lets you specify which phrases and keyword terms must appear to trigger your ads. Close variations of the keyword may still cause your ads to display.

For example, appending the “+” parameter to “rent” to the phrase “rent exotic car” means that your ads will only trigger when searches include the word “rent”.

Phrase Match Type

Phrase match provides even more control over how ads are triggered.

Your ad only displays when a searcher queries your keywords in the exact order that you specify but there may be words before or after the phrase. Phrase match lets you refine your campaign while showing your ads to searchers who are most likely looking for your product or service.

If the phrase match you enter is “tennis shoes”, keywords that will trigger your ad include:

  • Buy tennis shoes online
  • Tennis shoes for hiking
  • Best deals on tennis shoes
  • Cheap tennis shoes

Your ad will not display for any searches such as “tennis equipment” or “climbing shoes”. Using the phrase match type in your campaign can help to increase your overall click-through rate (CTR) and decrease any unwanted impressions for irrelevant search terms.

Exact Match Type

Exact match is the most restrictive of the keyword match types. Your ads only display when users type in the exact queries you bid on without any words before or after the keyword phrase.

If your exact match keyword phrase is “buy tennis shoes online”, your ad will only be triggered for those searches. Even if someone searches for “tennis shoes” or “buy black tennis shoes online”, your ads will not display. However, your ad will still be displayed for close variants of the keywords which may include misspelling, singular and plural forms, and stemmings (e.g. floor and flooring).

With exact match you may not get as many impressions as broad match but you are more likely to attract qualified prospects who are interested in the products or services you offer.

How Match Types Affect AdWords Results

The keyword match types you choose for your campaign can have a major impact on its performance. Broad match type helps you reach a much wider audience but it can also quickly wipe out your budget and result in fewer conversions. The other options provide a greater degree of control but offer fewer impressions.

When determining which match types to choose, take the following into consideration:

Performance: Regularly review the Search Terms Report to see how certain keywords have performed to date. This can give you invaluable insight on which match types provide the best return.

Competitors: AdWords is essentially its own ecosystem. How your competitors bid on certain keyword phrases and structure their own campaigns can impact the results you get from different match types.

Bids: The more demand there is for a keyword, the more it will cost to bid on it. The actual amount that you will pay per click will be impacted by the bids, regardless of the match type.

Optimising match types is a critical aspect of your PPC campaign as it allows you to more effectively reach your target market. In the next section we cover long tail keywords and how they can generate a greater return for your business.


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