Google Ads Keyword Match Types - 2020 Explanation
Updated: Aug 20
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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 is the most restrictive and specific of keyword match types. Compared to other three match types, the exact match gives you the most control over how users reach your ads. Your ads are only shown when users search terms match exactly or vary slightly from your keyword. To insert an exact match in Google Ads campaign, place the double square bracket sign () around the keywords.
Exact match highly considers the meaning of keywords. So, when the search terms have the same meaning with your exact match keyword, your ads will be shown, even the search terms have extra words before, in between and after. For example, if the exact keyword is [phone screen replacement], search term “replacement phone screen” or “phone screen fixing” will match; while search term “phone repair” or “best phone screen replacement” won’t match.
Do remember that any extra word before, in between and after that make the meaning of the word is slightly different won't trigger the ad. For example, "best phone screen replacement" search term won't trigger the ad because you don't mention "best" in your keyword lists.
What is Negative Keyword
Negative keyword is needed to reduce the irrelevant search and cost. This type of keyword is used to exclude search terms from your campaign, so your ad won’t be shown for not being targeted users. To add a negative keyword in Google Ads campaign, place the minus sign (-) before the keywords.
When choosing negative keywords, you want to pick the one that is similar to your targeted keywords but won’t bring any value to your business or the products or services you don’t offer. For example, your business offers phone screen replacement, you want to exclude “laptop screen replacement” or “monitor screen”.
Negative keywords also have the match types: broad match, phrase match, and exact match. There is no broad match modifier in negative keyword. The main difference between negative keyword and target keyword is that negative keyword match doesn’t include close variances.
Negative broad match allows you to exclude the search terms that contain all of your negative keywords, even in different order and extra words. For example, if your negative keyword is “phone screen replacement”, your ads won’t be shown if the search term is “replacement of phone screen”.
Negative phrase match allows you to exclude the search terms that contain all your negative keywords, in the exact order and extra words before and after. For example, if your negative keyword is “phone screen replacement”, your ads won’t be shown if the search term is “best phone screen replacement”
Negative exact match allows you to exclude the search terms that contain exactly your negative keywords, in the same order, without any additional words. For example, if your negative keyword is “phone screen replacement”, your ads won’t be shown if the search term is “phone screen replacement”, but might be shown if the search term is “cheap phone screen replacement”.
Do remember to choose negative keywords carefully if you don’t want your ads never reach your audience; and negative keyword match types don’t include close variances, so do add them in the negative keyword lists.
How to Use Keyword Match Type in Your Google Ads Campaign
After having your keyword list, it is the time to decide which match type belongs to which keyword.
Google makes the broad match type as default. But I recommend that broad type isn’t a good option because it will waste your money with irrelevant search.
There might be better to start with a broad match modifier and negative keywords. This practice can help you build an effective campaign without so many irrelevant triggers. For more advanced, you can combine different match types, unless you understand customer behaviours and search intent.
One thing to remember is to keep tracking, analysing and optimising. You can improve your campaign from time to time by your previous data. From that data, you can find the best combination of keyword match types to your campaign.
Choosing match types is difficult, I can feel you. But don’t be stressed. Even many advertising experts are struggling with applying these match types to their list. By keeping your eyes on the report, you can improve your keyword list.
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