Google AdWords Match Types Introduction

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5th Dezember 2016


When creating your first campaign in Google AdWords, at some stage of this process AdWords will ask you to bid on a keyword and you will have to select a keyword match type. You may ask yourself, what is a match type and what is the difference between the options you can chose from?
In this blog post, you will get to know the various keyword match types and how they differ from each other.

What Are Google AdWords Match Types?

When creating a text ad in your AdWords PPC campaign, you can chose between mainly three (actually four, but let’s be new school here) match types. Broad match, phrase match or exact match for your keyword match type. The keyword match types tell Google how closely you want the respective keyword to match to the search term entered by the user. Each match type has its advantages and disadvantages.

AdWords Exact Match Type

Exact Match is the most specific and restrictive match type option in AdWords. When you opt into using exact match on your keywords, users can only see your ad when they type your exact keyword phrase by itself. A few years ago, Google allowed search terms to match exact keywords when they “include misspellings, synonyms, related searches and other relevant variations” (so-called close variants). This match type is characterized by the square bracket symbols [keyword].
For example, if your keyword combination would be [rose gold watch], your ads are eligible to show only when a user’s search query is “rose gold watch” or “rosegold watch” and not for “gold watches” or “buy rose gold watch”.
On the plus side, exact match drives high quality traffic to your website or e-commerce shop because users who are searching for these words are more likely to click on your ad and be interested in your product or service (read more about compelling ads here). This makes exact match keywords often the cheapest keywords with the highest conversion rate in your keyword set. Disclaimer: There will be situations where the exact match keyword will not be the cheapest one.
On the other hand, this match type is often affected by keyword restrictions due to low search volume which can lead to a small number of impressions and clicks. Sometimes even, the exact match keyword will be flagged as “Low search volume” and will not trigger any impressions at all. This is a big drawback, especially when you have put hard work in finding the right keywords - but do not give up just yet, because there are other options. Read on.

AdWords Phrase Match Type

When using this option, your ad will show when a user is searching for your exact keyword (=in the exact order) but it will be also shown when the user adds some extra words at the beginning (preposed) and the end of the query (postposed). Phrase match is ideal to give you more control over traffic but on the other hand you could miss out on relevant traffic which would include permutated searches. Similar to the exact match, this keyword option will also trigger your ads when search terms are close variants. This match type is characterized by the quote symbols “keyword”.
Let's use “red shoes”. If you use this keyword in phrase match, your ads will appear for users searching for “red shoes for men” (postposed), “bordeaux red shoes” (preposed) - but not for “red cheap shoes” or “shoes for women”.
In the majority of account set ups or AdWords audits we conclude, we are not using the phrase match option anymore. The reason is that there is another match type which gives us even more opportunities.

AdWords Broad Modified Match

The keyword match broad modified or also known as BMM is a newer match type (well, not that new anymore, it was introduced in 2010). This match type allows you to reach a wider audience because of its flexibility. A simple “+” (=modifier) added in front of every term in your keyword, will activate the modified version of this keyword. By doing so, you are telling Google that the search query must include every single term from the keyword, but in any kind of order. As mentioned above, this match type is characterized by using plus symbol(s) +keyword.
For example, when you would like to bid on the keyword red shoes, then you should select the match type “broad” in AdWords and to enable broad modified you add the plus sign. The keyword should look like this: +red +shoes. Now this keyword will include searches like “dark red shoes” (preposed) or “red vintage shoes” (insertion) or “women shoes in red” (permutation). You might already see that this keyword match type offers a great opportunity to expand the keyword portfolio with relevant input. And since it is covering the same searches as the phrase match would, it has become best practice to skip phrase match keywords and use broad modified keywords instead.

With this specific match type - we call it discovery match type - you have much more flexibility than with phrase match keywords and obviously increased reach than with exact match keywords. Furthermore, broad modified keywords are locking out some irrelevant traffic but it is still important to check the search queries on a regular basis and avoid unnecessary cost.

AdWords Broad Match Type

Broad match is the default match type and typically reaches a very wide audience because your ad will appear whenever a user’s search query includes any term of your keyword phrase regardless of the order. Google provides a great example on its support page, if you use broad match on the keyword low-carb diet plan, your ad might be shown if a user types "carb-free foods", "mediterranean diet plans," or "low calorie recipes".
For quickly building keyword lists and reach a maximum number of users, this match type can be used. However, it also means that users might see and click on your ad even when they were looking for something completely different and this can cause a fast increase in costs of your AdWords campaign (something we refer to as wasted spend). For some advertisers a broad modifier is a good way to drive loads of clicks in the very early stages of a simple AdWords account, but always make sure that you have a close look at the search query report.

The importance of match types

Understanding keyword match types is basic knowledge for every AdWords (or Bing) manager. It might not be trivial at first but it is actually one of the most important aspects in order to manage and grow profitable PPC campaigns.
The right keyword match type will help you to target the most relevant users at the most relevant time, meaning those users which are most likely to purchase your product, register or make a booking for your services. A good understanding of positive keyword match types will help you to spend your money wisely.

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