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match types

An Introduction to Keyword Match Types

If you ever tried to come up with a list of possible PPC keywords for your business, you might have wondered about questions like ‘Do I need to use the words in singular and plural as separate keywords? Would having ‘online shop’ as a keyword also include ‘online shopping’? Can Google recognise that ‘Children’s’ and ‘Kids’ means the same? Do I need to come up with every single search term I can think of so that my ad gets shown for those search queries? If so, is that what PPC executives do all day long?’ Thankfully, Google has saved us all a lot of time and introduced keyword match types which let us choose how much control we want over the search terms that our ads appear for and how much freedom we leave for Google to decide when our ads are relevant.


If you want to make sure that your ads get shown to the widest audiences possible, broad keyword match is the best choice. If you enter your keywords on broad match, your adverts will be eligible to show not only for the search terms that include one or all of the words in your keyword (in any order), but also terms that Google considers related to them. For example, if you run an online flower shop and bid on the broad matched keyword ‘flowers online’, your ad is also likely to be shown to people who search for ‘roses online’, ‘buy flowers’, ‘birthday flowers’ and so on. This is also where the problem lies – you can’t always predict what search terms Google will consider related to your keywords, so your ad might end up being shown to completely irrelevant audiences. This is how an ad for ‘factoring’ might end up being shown to someone who has been searching for the latest news on ’The X Factor’, and if you’re even more unlucky, that someone will click on it and spend your money.



A match option that offers more control is phrase match. This means that your ads will only be triggered by those searches that contain your selected keywords in it in the same order. There can be other words in the search term as long as they are before or after the keyword phrase, and not in between. For example, ‘flowers online’ on phrase match would trigger the ads to appear if someone was searching for ‘buy flowers online’ or ‘flowers online shop’ but not for ‘tulips online’. Quite a good way to filter out a lot of unnecessary impressions and still have your ads showing for a wide range of searches.



The exact match limits the number of ad impressions even more. If you have a keyword on exact match, your ads will only be shown when that exact search term is entered. If there are any other words in the search term or even a slight difference in spelling, the ads will not be triggered. This means you can be very precise in what terms to target, and if you know your customers well, could lead to a much higher CTR, lower CPC and less competition, however, overusing it will mean your campaign is not reaching all its potential audiences.



To give advertisers even more choice, Google has recently introduced a new, broad modifier, match type. It’s a mix between the broad and exact matches, where you can select which word in the phrase has to always be in the search term so that the ads are triggered, and for which words synonyms are also allowed. Say, if you had an ad group for wedding flowers, you might want your ads to only show for queries that have the word ‘wedding’ in them. Using exact matching for this ad group’s keywords would mean you’d have to try and produce a long list of synonyms related to flowers. The broad modifier match, on the other hand, would still get the same result, just involve a lot less time and risk to miss out on relevant impressions.



All in all, getting the match types and the keywords right is always a bit of a puzzle. Experts who know the types, their effects and how they differ will find it easy or even obvious, but for someone without much knowledge, it might take days of experimenting to get the best possible combination.

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