Google AdWords Keyword Match Types – How To Save Money & Get Better Results


Google AdWords keyword match types tell Google how you want it to match your ads to keyword searches – whether you want to be restrictive or show your ads to as wide an audience as possible. There are four main keyword match types – but how do they differ, and how can choosing the right one help you to save on your current AdWords spend?

Google AdWords Keyword Match Types

As we just mentioned, there are four match types, each with their own advantages and disadvantages:

  • Broad match
  • Modified broad match
  • Phrase match
  • Exact match

Let's take a look at each type in a bit more detail to see how they could benefit your Google AdWords campaign.

Broad match

This is the default match type selected by Google – it's also the match type which targets the widest audience. With broad match, your ad appears whenever a user's search includes 'any word in your key phrase, in any order.' What does that mean? Well, if you use the broad match type on the phrase 'office supplies', then your ad could be displayed when a user types 'office supplies, 'office chairs' or even 'building supplies'. Your ad can also be matched to queries using syllables.

Broad matched ads might be viewed and clicked on by searchers who are not looking for your product or service – this can be costly, so you do need to be careful. Using this match type will drive more clicks, but it's important to keep an eye on your search query reports, or you could find yourself paying for traffic that doesn't lead to conversions. You can set up a few negative keywords which can prevent your ad from displaying on unrelated searches when using this match type, if you like.

Modified broad match

Modified broad match is a good middle point between broad match and some of the more restrictive match types. Yes, you'll reach a wide audience, but you can 'lock' specific words in a key phrase, giving you more control over who views your ad.

The '+' is used in front of a term to tell Google that any search must include this term.

  • '+ business supplies' will match ads to queries which use the word business
  • 'business + supplies will match ads to queries which include the word supplies

As you can see, this still results in a fair volume of irrelevant traffic and could end up costing your more money.

Phrase match

Phrase match offers the versatility of broad match type but with more control. With phrase match, keywords in a query must be entered in the exact order you have used them – although the user can include other words before and after the key phrase.

So for example with the key phrase 'business supplies', your ad will appear when somebody searches for 'business supplies', 'discount business supplies' and 'business supplies wholesale'. But users searching for 'business equipment', or 'business office supplies' won't see your ads. Allowing for text before or after the keywords does give some flexibility for this match type, but there's still the potential for irrelevant traffic.

Exact match type

This is by far the most restrictive of the match types. Users must type your exact keyword phrase as their search query, with no words before or after, in order to see your ad. So if your phrase is 'office chairs' then your ad won't show up when someone searches for 'office furniture', 'black office chairs' or 'discounted office chairs.' This can be a good thing as it means these those searching for your exact phrase are the most likely to be interested in your products or services. This match type can boost your conversion rates and reduce your ad spend significantly. But using exact match type can also mean you have less traffic, so fewer overall impressions.

How to select your keyword match types in Google AdWords

The way to select the match type that’s right for you is as follows. Let’s take an example from our business, using the keyword ‘Google AdWords Management Agency’

If we wanted to use this keyword, here’s how it would look in the different match types:

  • Broad - Google AdWords Management Agency
  • Broad Modified - +Google +AdWords +Management +Agency
  • Phrase – “Google AdWords Management Agency”
  • Exact – [Google AdWords Management Agency]

It's important to spend some time getting to know the different match types, as well as their advantages and disadvantages – and thinking about which works best for your business and ads. Spending a little time now choosing the right match type can reduce your AdWords spend and result in higher conversion rates for your business, which is, after all, what you're trying to achieve. Learn more about Google AdWords Keywords with this great article - A Guide to Keyword Match Types in Google AdWords.

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