The Guide You Need to Understand Keyword Match Types in Google Ads

Creating parameters that define when your ads are shown is a key component of ad spend management. In addition, it ensures your content is presented to the right audience at the right time.

The Guide You Need to Understand Keyword Match Types in Google Ads

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It happens to just about every new digital marketer

You run a bunch of paid ads on Google, then open up your dashboard to see you’ve blown through your entire budget in a matter of hours.

The problem? Instead of showing your ads to the right audience, they went to users who had no desire or need for your product or service.

Ouch. It’s one way a lot of companies get burned out on the costs of social media marketing altogether and never return.

Instead of wondering what went wrong, it is time to learn all about keyword match types and why they matter in pay-per-click marketing.

Using these parameters is the best way to ensure your ads only show up in front of your true target audience and not those looking for similar but different keywords.

Best of all, keyword match types can help you really narrow down your focus and get in front of potential customers who are already somewhat down the sales funnel and ready to make a purchase.

Let’s jump in and get started.

    What Are Keyword Match Types?

    In simplistic terms, keyword match types are the triggers that show your ads to a specific user when they do a search with certain parameters.

    Essentially, it is like creating a wish list of requirements before an ad is shown to a particular person — i.e. matching your ad up with their particular search query.

    They can be as generic or as detailed as you would like. 

    Not only does using keyword match types give you the power of choosing when to show an ad, but it helps you filter out the searches that don’t make quite as much sense.

    Think of them as a way to drill down your ad to show with a super specific focus instead of just a broad match to a basic search result.

    And, as a super savvy digital marketer, this is the type of detail you want to know to drastically improve your paid advertising results.

    How Can Keyword Match Types Benefit Your Business?

    Like we mentioned, keyword match types are designed to act as parameters for when your ad should and should not be shown to a user for a particular search query.

    The main benefit is that you’re able to truly control your audience and determine what terms make the most sense for the ad itself. 

    After all, you know your unique buyer persona and target market in ways that search engine bots do not.

    In addition, keyword match types also enable you to filter out various terms that sound alike but aren’t directly related to what your ad is about. 

    For example, let’s say you sell refurbished video game systems and use the word console in your ad. 

    You would also want to utilize keyword matches to ensure your content wasn’t showing up for someone looking for console tables for their living room.

    If you’re working with a strict ad spend budget or simply want to minimize waste on paying for ads that get no results, then using keyword match types is highly beneficial to your strategy.

    Common Types of Keyword Matches on Google Ads

    Of course, there are different types of keyword matches that you’ll want to pay attention to. 

    More specifically, there are five that include: exact match, phrase match, broad match, broad match modifier, and negative match.

    Exact Match

    When you’re looking for strict parameters for a keyword search, you’ll want to use an exact match. 

    This is the option that only shows your ad if the user is looking for your exact keyword or a variation of it that is plural or has a minor misspelling. 

    If all of the keywords in an exact match phrase are there but in a different order, it will not trigger the ad.

    Examples for the keyword Small Animal Veterinarians

    • Small Animal Veterinarian
    • Small Animal Veterinarians

    Phrase Match

    A phrase match is still fairly targeted, but it is a little more flexible when you have a string of keywords together.

    It allows additional words to be added to the beginning or end of the phrase, but not in the middle.

    Examples for the keyword Brisket Tacos

    • Best Brisket Tacos
    • Brisket Tacos Recipe
    • Brisket Tacos Near Me
    • Brisket Tacos in Dallas

    Broad Match

    Broad match keyword types are exactly what they sound like — overly reaching without any real clear parameters.

    If you do not set keyword match types in Google Ads, then this is automatically what is used as the default setting. 

    The problem with broad match is that any of the words in your long-tail phrase can trigger an ad to show, which isn’t always what you want.

    Likewise, it automatically uses semantic phrases that may or may not match directly with the context of your ad.

    Examples for the keyword Divorce Attorney

    • Divorce Lawyer
    • Tax Attorney
    • Should I Get a Divorce
    • Divorce Costs
    • How to Avoid Divorce

    Negative Match

    Finally, there are negative keyword matches. 

    This is where you define terms that you never want your ad to trigger. 

    Maybe they give a negative connotation to your business or industry. Or they could just be totally irrelevant to what you’re trying to advertise. 

    Either way, it is handy to know that you have this exclusion option.

    Examples for negative keywords one might pair with the query of keyword Real Estate Advisor: 

    • Scam
    • Cheap
    • Terrible
    • Wost

    Say Goodbye to the Broad Match Modifier

    Broad match modifier is similar to broad match, but refines the process down a little bit further by allowing you to choose specific keywords to always include as triggers for ads. 

    For a lot of marketers, this option was usually the best for pay-per-click ads, as it allowed for some flexibility for user intent.

    Unfortunately, Google eliminated it in Spring 2021 in favor of moving to a version of phrase match that included similar options. 

    We’re specifically notating it here in case you’ve found other guides on the internet that include it, as it was gradually phased out until ultimately disappearing in July 2021.

    How to Choose the Right Match Types for Your Keywords

    Now that you’re aware of the five different types of keyword matches, it is time to think about how to choose the right match types for your particular keyword.

    Really, this all comes down to knowing your ideal customer and what they might search for when looking for the product or service you provide. 

    Use what you know and compare it to any data you have from previous campaigns to determine if certain terms or phrases perform better on a consistent basis. 

    Then filter out those that were less than ideal.

    Additionally, you’ll want to determine your overall ads budget. 

    Do you have the bandwidth for your ads to trigger more frequently on broader terms or does it make more sense to keep them super streamlined? 

    This can make a big difference when deciding how conservative to be with your triggers.

    Finally, look at the different reports showing what keywords have previously triggered your ads.

    Make note of any terms that don’t make sense or are totally irrelevant and then block them using keyword match types. 

    This will keep them from showing in the same capacity again, helping to save your ad budget a bit of spend.

    What’s the Difference Between Keyword Match Types for SEO and AdWords?

    Keyword match types are sometimes confused with regular keywords used in search engine optimization (SEO) and content marketing. 

    It is important to realize that both do involve the queries that people are typing in a search box, which is why the term keyword is used in both terms.

    However, the main difference comes down to how each of these is used. 

    Keywords for your on-site optimization are designed to attract specific users to your page in the form of organic traffic. 

    In this instance, you do not have ultimate control over what terms your website shows up in the SERPs under, other than what you add to the copy you’re posting on your website.

    Keyword match types are for paid advertising. 

    These are the terms that cause your ad to show to a user, which gives you more say in when or how they appear. (And, subsequently, you’re charged.)

    Wrap Up: Google Ads Keyword Match Types

    Understanding keyword match types is just one of the many ways you can fine-tune your digital marketing strategies to reach your target marketing in a more streamlined manner. 

    If you’re concerned about your paid advertising performance, then you’ll want to request a free demo from our Rock Content team!

    Contact us to learn how we can help you achieve better results. 


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