A quick guide to keyword match types


If you’re running paid ad campaigns in your content marketing, one of the key aspects is making sure your ads appear in searches you want them to appear in, but not in searches that won’t drive conversions.

This is where understanding keyword match types can be useful.

Keyword match types can help to set which keyword searches will trigger your ads to appear, and which won’t.

By setting these match types against your campaign, you can make sure ads only appear in front of people with a higher chance of converting and earning you a return on your investment.

Let’s run through the different choices you have and see if we can help you understand which ones to choose for your campaigns.


Broad match type

As this name suggests, a broad match type will trigger your ad automatically for relevant variants of your chosen keywords, even if they aren’t in your list.

These require Google and search engines to make some “educated guesses” about what is relevant based on your keywords, and the search being made.

Broad matches are the default setting for Google Ads.

If you don’t change this, your ad will run for searches using variations on your keyword as well as searches using synonyms, related searches and plural searches etc.

Basically anything that Google thinks might be relevant to the search even it doesn’t match your specific keyword.

This can be a good place to start if your goal is to simply drive more traffic to your website, or you don’t want to spend a lot of time initially building a keyword list.

Over time, if certain searches aren’t generating clicks for your ads, Google will automatically “clean” your list of that search.

There is also the option to modify your broad match results to only show your ads for searches with your keywords and a + sign in front of them.

This still allows you to appear in a higher number of searches than an exact match, but gives you some control over those searches based on particular details like the colour or size of an item.


Phrase match type

Your ad will show for customers searching either for your keyword or close variants of it along with words before or after.

In SEO these would be longer tail keyword searches.

This is more targeted than a broad match because the user has to use your exact keyword to trigger the ad, but is flexible because the words still have to appear in the order of the search.

For instance if your phrase match was running shoes, your ad would appear in searches for “best mens running shoes” but not “best shoes for marathon running”.

These can be good ads for you to target because you’ll still drive more traffic overall than those targeted as exact matches only, and you’ll also likely see a higher click through rate than ads appearing for broad matches.


Exact match type

As the name suggests, this is the most specific of matches.

Here, your ad only appears in searches for your exact keyword, or close variations of the exact keyword phrase.

A close variation is something deemed by Google to be the same thing as an exact search – so the searcher wouldn’t be surprised to see your ad appear for the search they’d made.

Exact match types can be best for customer further down the buyer journey, closer to making an actual purpose.

They’re useful for:

  • Organising a list of exact keywords to help you manage maximum bids
  • Generating fewer overall clicks, but generating clicks with a higher chance of conversion


Which keyword match type should you use

As with all marketing, you shouldn’t limit yourself to just one channel.

You should look to have two of the three match types active for your campaign so you can work towards the right balance of traffic overall, with the right level of conversion.

If you was to focus only on broad matches, for example, you could generate a tonne of traffic but get very few clicks.

While focusing solely on exact matches will generate higher chances of conversions, but you’ll miss out on raising your brand awareness with a wider audience who might convert later on.


Experiment with match types to find the right balance

Just like all your paid ad activity, you should factor in some cost and time to run experiments on your keywords to generate the right balance of traffic and conversions.

As we mentioned, try mixing two variations of match type to see what results you get.

If you’re not seeing enough overall traffic, or are generating high level sof traffic but getting few conversions, pivot your budget and run another experiment with a different match type.

It might sound a bit hit and miss for for budget, but it’s the only way you can really start to understand how your ads are performing and what the right strategy is.

If you want some help with your paid ad campaigns, get in touch and one of our PPC consultants will be able to run through your needs, understand your budget and help you come up with the right plan to move forward.

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