Optimizing Your PPC Campaign with Match Types

search terms report

What are keyword match types?

Keywords are the backbone of your pay per click (PPC) campaign. The keywords you choose to target with your ads determine which searchers see your ads and when. Choosing the best and most relevant keywords is vital for driving traffic back to your site. For example, if you own a blue jean company, you want ads to appear for people searching specifically for bluejeans, not for people searching for dress pants. Proper keyword selection influences how relevant your ads are to searchers, but what if a relevant search doesn’t use the exact keyword you selected to target? Do you lose relevant traffic? That is where keyword match types come in. Match types tell Google how strict you want to be when it comes to matching relevant search terms to the keywords you have selected.

There are 4 match types to choose from. It is important to understand the characteristics of each one, and the relative advantages of each. Choosing the right match type for PPC ads is a great way to align PPC results with your company’s goals for traffic & conversions. This is a great article for any PPC marketer to bookmark and revisit whenever it comes time to choose a PPC match type.

Broad match

This is the default match type on Google Ads. It matches your selected keywords with the broadest possible searches. Basically, it means that your ad can appear on search results any time a user enters a specific keyword in your key phrase, regardless of word order. A search query similar to your key phrase can also trigger the ad. Since this match type matches everything and anything, your ads will display with a lot of frequency and your budget will deplete quickly. This match type isn’t good for driving quality conversions, but it can help you to determine which keywords your audience is searching for, which can help you to build more relevant ads in the future. Most PPC marketers use broad match as a tool to discover new keywords.

Example: If you use broad match on the phrase “mountain bike”, you can appear for “bike helmet” or “mountain gear”.

This resource is great for anyone who wants to better understand broad match ads: https://support.google.com/google-ads/answer/2407779?hl=en

search terms report

Broad match modifier

This match type allows you to have more control over search result relevance. Think of it as the “middleman” between broad match and more restrictive match types. With a broad match modifier, you can reach a pretty wide audience, but you can also ensure that certain keywords MUST appear in search queries in order to trigger your ad. This is done by placing a “+” in front of every keyword that needs to appear in a search query in order to trigger your ad.

Example: Setting your keyword to “shoes for +kids”, means that your ad can only be matched with a search term that includes the word “kids”. If your phrase is “+shoes for kids”, it can only be matched with queries that include the word “shoes”.

Visit this resource to learn more about setting up broad match modifiers: https://support.google.com/google-ads/answer/7042511?hl=en

search terms report

Phrase match

With phrase match, the search query must contain multiple keywords that appear in the exact order you specify when you set your keyword, but the search query can include words and phrases that come before your set phrase.

Example: If your key phrase is “blue jeans”, you may appear when someone searches “blue jeans for women”, but not “blue bootcut jeans”.

For more about phrase match, visit this resource: https://support.google.com/google-ads/answer/2407784?hl=en

Exact match

The exact match type is the most restrictive out of the 4 match types. In the past Google has only allowed exact match keyword ads to appear for queries that match the exact keyword or phrase, and nothing else.

Example: The key phrase “green cargo shorts” would only allow an ad appear for “green cargo shorts”, not “green shorts” or “cargo shorts”.

Google has recently pulled back some of its restrictions. Now, even with the Exact match type, your ads can match with searches that include plurals, synonyms, and other close variations. This match type offers the least amount of reach but promises to deliver highly relevant ads.

To dig deeper into exact match types, visit this resource: https://support.google.com/google-ads/answer/2497825?hl=en

Which one works best for you?

Each of the four match types has its own distinct advantages.

The broader the match type, the more exposure your ad gets. However, your ads are more likely to show for irrelevant searches which results in clicks without conversions. The more restrictive the match type, the more narrow and targeted of an audience you reach. When it comes time to choose a match type, consider how relevant you need your ads to be, how restrictive your budget is, and which strategy is most likely to increase your conversion rate. There is space for each match type in PPC marketing strategy.

Hoping to learn more about user search intent? Read our article about search terms!