Google Ads Keyword Match Types - 2020 Explanation

Updated: Aug 20, 2020

Researching and expanding keywords might take you a lot of time to get the final lists. Having a list of keywords is just the half way of running a Google Ads campaign.


You don’t want to trigger irrelevant impressions and clicks which cost you lots of money but give you nothing in return. That is the reason why you should be aware of keyword match type in your Google Ads campaign.



Google Ads Keyword Match Types

What is Google Keyword Match Type?


Keyword match types, according to Google, help you control which searches on Google can trigger your ads. It tells Google how you want your targeted keywords to match with users' search terms. Keyword match types include: broad match, broad match modifier, phrase match, and exact match.


Broad match


Broad match is the default match type which gives you the least control over keyword matching. When using the broad match, your ads will be shown for the large amount of search queries, even the variations. To insert a broad match in Google Ads campaign, simply type in your list of keywords as normal.


Broad match allows all your keywords to be assigned including variations such as synonyms, singular, plural forms, misspellings, related terms, ect. Because of its flexibility, this match type can reach the widest possible audience and make sure you don't miss out any searches.


Broad match google search ads

Unfortunately, this broad match type brings you a lot of invaluable clicks and this can add up your cost quite quickly. For example, if you use broad match on the keyword “phone screen replacement”, your ads can be triggered when users type “phone reviews”, “fix phone”, “buy phone”, “computer screen repair”. Some of them are irrelevant to your services.


This type of keyword match is not recommended by experienced advertisers. This can be used only if you don’t want to spend time on building keyword lists. When you run a Google Ads campaign with a list of broad match keywords, if your ad receives no clicks, Google will stop displaying your ad for this keyword or variations to prevent adding cost to your campaign.


Broad match modifier


Broad match modifier is a better option than a broad match which gives you more control over when your ads will be shown. Broad match modifier triggers your ads only when the search terms include the words you marked with plus sign (+) in your lists, or close variances. Close variances include misspellings, singular and plural forms, abbreviations, acronyms, ect


Broad match modifier allows you to get more relevant and valuable clicks; thus, improve your click-through rates and conversion rates. To insert a broad match modifier in Google Ads campaign, place the plus sign (+) in front of each word.


Broad match modifier in google search ads

When you assign a word as a broad match modifier; in a search term, additional words can appear before, in between and after your assigned words. For instance, if the broad match modifier keyword is “+phone +screen +replacement”; when a user makes a search as “phone screen repair for student”, your ads will be shown. But your ads won’t be shown if the search term is “laptop repair for student”. In addition, order of the word is not considered in broad match modifier. Your ad will be triggered even the search term is "replacement iPhone screen".


Do remember that broad match modifier only applies for the word which has a plus sign (+). For example, “+phone +screen +replacement” is different from “+phone screen +replacement”. Additionally, don’t leave space between plus sign (+) and the word, and there is no need to add the plus sign (+) to the prepositions or conjunctions (such as +phone +screen +replacement +in +Melbourne).


Phrase match


Phrase match type triggers your ads only when the search queries match your keyword or close variances. This match type is more targeted and gives you more control than a broad match modifier.


Your ads will be shown if the search term matches the keyword or close variances of what is included in your keyword. Variances include misspellings, singular and plural forms, abbreviations, ect. To insert a phrase match in Google Ads campaign, place the double quote sign ("") around the keywords.


Phrase match in google search ads

Do remember that word order is being considered in phrase match. Your ads are shown only when the search term includes the keyword in exact order. Any word in between the phrase match keyword won’t trigger the ads, while extra words before and after the phrase match keyword is considered as match.


For example, if your phrase match keyword is “phone screen replacement”, search term “phone screen repair” or “cheap iPhone screen fixing services” will match; while search term “repair phone screen” or “iPhone screen cheap repair” won’t match.


Exact match