In a simple world, we could start up our Google AdWords account, write some great ads and choose our best keywords to get our campaigns rolling.

But, in the world of Google Ad Words and PPC, it never really is that simple. To add to the never ending list of campaign management and optimization tools you need to look out for – (we already covered negative keywords, landing pages and core website development) – keyword match types can make or break your online PPC campaigns in a matter of weeks.

Sigh. We know. As usual though, we are here to help you navigate through the tricky world of Google AdWord management and break it down for you.

What are AdWords Keyword Match Types?

When you create a text ad campaign in your Google AdWords account, you know by now that you have to select a cluster of carefully chosen keywords that help drive searchers to your ads.

(How many keywords should be in each ad group? That is likely next week’s blog post.)

Within those keywords however, you have the ability to decide how restrictivley you want to match your ads to each keyword search. Keyword match types give you the ability to basically instruct Google which part of your keywords to consider when matching a users search term with one of your keywords & ads.

There are four keyword match types:

  • Broad match
  • Modified broad match
  • Phrase match
  • Exact match

Each play their own role in the way traffic is driven to your text ads. No matter how many keywords you choose to have in your ad groups, they should be a carefully chosen blend of the four match types- and, change over time with your campaign.

What is broad match type?

The most “loose” of the match types, broad match is the default for Google AdWords campaigns. It instructs Google to allow your ads to show when a users search query contains any of the terms in your keyword.

For example, your broad match type key word “yellow pens” may trigger ads to show when a user searches “yellow balls”, “red pens”, “yellow shoes” or “cheap pens.”

Why use broad match type keywords?

Broad match keywords allow you the biggest band of exposure, especially when starting out a campaign. It allows you to capture traffic that you may not realize exists, and gather great intel on your business and advertisements through open exposure. Broad match beefs up your search term report, giving you concrete historical data to help you continiously grow and refine your campaigns.

What to watch out for with broad match type keywords

Because they are so open, broad match keywords can drive quite a bit of irrelevant traffic to your ads if not managed carefully. If this traffic clicks on your ads, you may end up paying alot for meaningless action. You may not be hitting your target market correctly each time, so you will see activity, but is it the right activity? Using broadmatch needs expert, active negative keyword management and effective monitoring of your search term query report.

We’ve had clients come to us with their own existing Google Ad Words campaigns, spending over $400 a month on “spam clicks”- clicks that are driven by searches with 0% intent matched to business objectives. That’s over $4500 a year spent on advertising that will go absolutley nowhere. What a waste!

What is modified broad match type?

A step up from broad match type, modified broad match allows you to instruct Google that certain words must be included in a users search query in order to trigger your keyword and ad. While it still leaves the search query landscape somewhat open, it adds more control to the parameters of what triggers your ads. In other words, it tightens your target a little more. That being said, your ads may still be triggered by searches that aren’t directly related to your ads, as the words don’t have to be in any particular order.

By using the + symbol, you instruct Google that these words must be in a users search query. For example, your keyword +picture+frames will instruct Google to show ads for search queries that 100% contain the words pictures and frames, but, will still allow for other terms in a search query. So, a search for “free picture frames” may trigger your ads, as may “pictures of cute bed frames”.

What is phrase match type?

Phrase match gives you an additional level of control, by instructing Google that an entire phrase – in a certain order- must be included in a users search query in order to trigger an ad. It leaves the search query landscape far less open, leaving less room for irrelevant traffic to be driven to your ads. You are making a much more concrete distinction of who you want to see your ads and why.

By using parantheses around the phrase you want to lock in, you are ensuring that only search queries containing that phrase will trigger your ads. For example, “yellow pens” may trigger ads for those searching for “yellow pens wholesale” “yellow pens online” or “yellow pens for sale”. It won’t trigger ads for “red pens”, “yellow balls” or “free pens”. If you only sold wholesale, you would want to use “yellow pens wholesale” as a keyword, which may still trigger searches like “yellow pens wholesale india” or “yellow pens wholesale australia”.

What to watch out for with phrase match type keywords

Phrase match keywords are strange. On one hand, phrase match can be quite limiting if you aren’t fluent in how people speak to search engines. By limiting your keywords to a few phrases, you might be missing out on some common searches that should be leading people to your ads. On the other hand, phrase match still leaves room for terms that may be irrelevant to your business. Although you dictate what you require in the search queries that trigger your ads, there can be additional terms in there.

Again, we can’t stress the importance of negative keywords.

We’ll tell you how well your Google Ad Words campaign is working.

What is exact match type?

With the highest level of control, exact match keywords instruct Google to show your ad only when your exact keyword is typed in. Google will allow for a few small outliers- pluralization, a readable spelling error or obvious intent, but unless your keyword is the user search query- your ad is not showing.

For example, your keyword [yellow pens] will only trigger your ads when someone searches for yellow pens. That’s it! “Yellow ball point pens”, “cheap yellow pens”, “yellow pens canada” etc. won’t trigger your ads.

What to watch out for with exact match type keywords

You certainly won’t drive any irrelevant traffic using exact match keywords, but you run a big risk of limiting a lot of the traffic that you do want. Even the most expert PPC marketers don’t speak the language of every search engine user on the planet. By dictating only a few phrases that your ads can be triggered by, you could be losing a lot of traffic that would result in conversions for your campaigns.

Why use exact match type keywords?

If you are looking for the most targeted and specific audience to drive to your ads, exact match keywords are your go-to. By instructing Google of what exactly you want your ads to show up for, you are ensuring that each click you get is entirely relevant to your business. As well, your quality score will be a lot higher as your relevancy attributes will be a lot more significant.

Match Types in Google Ad Words Matter

The correct blend of match types in your keyword list will dictate the volume and quality of traffic driven to your ads every single minute. Selecting the correct blend of match types, and updating your keyword lists based on routine campaign analysis requires a pretty strong understanding of the Google AdWords landscape. Without the correct blend of control and freedom for your ads traffic to funnel through, you could end up limiting your exposure way too much- or end up wasting way too much money.

We don’t let either happen. Let us make PPC work for you.