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What Are Google AdWords Match Types?

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Google offers several keyword match types to help you target your campaigns effectively. Currently you can use the following match types:

  • Broad Match
  • Phrase Match
  • Exact Match

What’s the difference, and how do I use them?

Broad Match:

Broad Match will get you the most impressions, clicks and the highest cost. In some cases this is a good thing, however when you are trying to maximize your ROI it may be detrimental. When you use a Broad Match keyword such as Nike Running Shoes, Google will try to match your ad to as many people searching for keywords that are similar to yours. So Google will show your ad to people searching for Nike Running Sneakers, Nike Sports Shoes, and also for more generic terms such as Running Shoes or Good For Running Shoes. If it is in your best interests not to have your ad display by such terms, you will want to make use of Negative Keywords as well as using other match types.

As in the above example, say I am advertising Nike Running Shoes, I only want people seeing my ad when they are searching for very similar terms. If I don’t want my ad to be displayed when people search for similar terms I can either add many negative match type terms such as Running Shoes, Reebok etc… This will block my ad from showing when someone searches for these terms. Negative keywords use match types as well so be careful not to use broad match terms that will exclude targeted traffic that you do want.

Phrase Match:

Phrase Match terms should be entered into AdWords surrounded by quotations (i.e. “search term”). When you use a Phrase match term, Google will only show your ad when the search query contains your search term in the same order that you entered it. If you used a search term “Nike Running Shoes”, your ad will likely show when someone searches for Good Nike Running, or Nike Running Shoes White as well. You will get much less traffic because of this so it is important that you add many variations of your search terms. You would want to add misspellings, singular and plural variations of your keywords. In addition it is a good idea to include your search terms in different orders (i.e. Nike Running Shoes and Running Shoes Nike). When you use Broad Match search terms Google’s algorithm does all this for you, but sometimes it goes farther than you’d want it to.

Exact Match:

Exact Match keywords should be enclosed in square brackets (i.e. [search term]). This is meant for extreme cases and is mostly used in conjunction with Phrase Match terms. A good example of when this is needed is when you would want your ad to come up for a specific phrase, but not for anything else. If you wanted your ad to be displayed when someone searches for [Robern Medicine Cabinet] only, you can use exact match to ensure that. However, this may not be ideal as it severely limits your reach. The best use for Exact Match keywords is using them as Negative Exact Match keywords in conjunction with Broad Match, and Phrase Match Terms.

I would suggest that for the best results, you try a mix of a few Broad Match terms and Phrase Match terms sprinkled with a healthy dose of Phrase and Exact Match Negatives.

UPDATE: New ‘Broad Match Modifier’ Match Type In AdWords

2 Comments to "What Are Google AdWords Match Types?"

  1. Reply
    Arturas Kvederis
    June 16, 2010 at 2:10 AM

    Great post, thanks for a thorough explanation!

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