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Google Ads: Keyword Match Types & How To Use Them

March 18, 2019

Google Ads uses 4 types of keywords; Exact Match, Phrase Match, Broad Match Modified & Broad Match. The question is, how should we use these keywords to activate our ads? In this short post I’ll explain how:

Exact Match Keywords

Google Adwords

How it works

Exact match keywords are almost self-explanatory. They are used to match the exact search query that a user inputs. The only circumstance under which this isn’t the case would be a mis-spelling. Exact match keywords are written with square brackets around them.

Keyword: [Samsung hob]

Search Terms Ad Will Show For Search Terms Ad Will NOT Show For
Samsung Hob Rangemaster hob
Smsung Hob Samsung fridge freezer
Samsung Hpb Samsung wifi hob


What are the benefits?

Exact match allows us to target searches exactly, therefore we know exactly what our ads are going to be shown against. This allows is to set very specific bids budgets for these keywords and control our account spend very precisely. It also enables us to write very precise and targeted ad text, catering specifically for the keyword in question, which generally helps to increase click-through rates.

What are the drawbacks?

Exact match keywords are extremely precise. Although this is great if we’re confident about our keyword choice, if we’re in a position where we’re setting up a new account and don’t have any data, we can’t be certain about the effectiveness of our keyword selection.

An extremely relevant, and more specific, variation of the keyword [samsung hob] is [samsung wifi hob]. Through the use of exact match keywords, we would have to specify [samsung wifi hob] as a keyword to ensure our ad is shown. They are extremely limiting in terms of encompassing more relevant searches.

Matt’s tips for Exact Match Keywords

Use the data to add these to your account. Build your account initially using broad modified keywords (which we will discuss later) and then extract high spending, high converting search terms from your search query report to increase click-through rates and conversion rates further.

Phrase Match Keywords

Google Adwords

How It Works

Phrase match encompasses any search that contains the particular phrase that you specify in your keyword. Phrase match keywords are always written with quote marks around them.

Keyword: “Samsung hob”

Search Terms Ad Will Show For Search Terms Ad Will NOT Show For
Samsung Hob with wifi Samsung integrated hob
Integrated Samsung Hob Samsung wifi hob
Samsung Hob manual Samsung virtual flame hob


What are the benefits?

Phrase match allows us to wider out parameters, encompassing searches that include words before or after our specified keyword. This means that we will not miss out when users search for “Samsung hob with wifi” and “Integrated Samsung hob” who are potential searchers for conversion.

What are the drawbacks?

Phrase match also opens us up to searches that are not relevant, for example, “Samsung hob manual” or “how to use a Samsung hob”. This is where negative keywords are extremely important since we can add these terms as negative keywords against our campaign. This will prevent them from showing again.

Writing ad text is also a little trickier since we can be sure what the user’s query will be that will trigger our ad. For that reason, it can be extremely useful to utilise dynamic ad text which will allow you to display the exact phrase the user has searched for within your ad.

Matt’s tips for Phrase Match Keywords

Don’t use it. An extremely effective account can be built by utilising broad modified and exact match keywords. In my honest opinion, there are very few circumstances under which using phrase match will offer additional benefit over and above broad modified.

Broad Match Modified Keywords

Ecommerce PPC Dashboard

How it works

Broad Modified encompasses any search that contains all of the words within your specified keyword. The search can then contain any other words in any order.  Broad Modified keywords will always contain a + before each word within the keyword.

Keyword: +samsung +hob

Search Terms Ad Will Show For Search Terms Ad Will NOT Show For
Samsung wifi hob Samsung integrated fridge freezer
Samsung integrated hob Samsung
Samsung virtual flame hob with free delivery Samsung galaxy s10


What are the benefits?

Broad modified keywords enable you to encompass all possible opportunities for conversion, without being overly specific with your keywords. The use of broad modified keywords can help us build a picture of how users search for products or services and then refine an account through the use of negative and exact match keywords.

What are the drawbacks?

As with phrase match, broad modified does mean we’ll encompass search terms that aren’t relevant and/or are “informational” (people searching for advice/information rather than a conversion) meaning we have to keep a close eye on their spend and utilise negative keywords effectively.

Writing ad text is again a sticking point for broad modified keywords, so utilising dynamic ad text is again a solution to making these keywords more effective in the short term.

Matt’s tips for Broad Match Modified Keywords

Use these keywords for research purposes. Using broad modified keywords can help us understand how our audience searches for our products and services. We can then use our search query report to extract information about the different searches that have taken place and either expand our account with exact match keywords or add negative keywords to reflect irrelevant searches.

Broad Match Keywords

Google Analytics

How it works

Broad keywords encompass any search the Google deems relevant to the keyword you have input. Broad keywords do not have any additional special characters.

Keyword: Samsung hob


Search Terms Ad May Show For Search Terms Ad Will NOT Show For
Samsung wifi hob
Samsung integrated hob
Samsung virtual flame hob with free delivery
Samsung integrated fridge freezer
Samsung galaxy s10


What are the benefits?

Broad match keywords can be effective for some accounts. If you have a large budget, and have optimised the account heavily with negative keywords and exact match keywords, this may be your next port of call. Broad match may allow you to find new, un-touched avenues for conversion that you hadn’t even considered.

What are the drawbacks?

Broad match keywords are just that; extremely broad. They can encompass masses of search terms that simply are not relevant to your business or service. With that in mind, these keywords should only be used if:

  1. You are experienced with Google Ads and have a strong understanding of how to control them
  2. You have large amounts of time to stay on top of negative keyword additions for these campaigns

Matt’s tips for Broad Match Keywords

One extremely effective way of using broad keywords is to “target and bid” (or “observation” as it’s now known) them with your site visitor audience. This will mean that only people who have previously interacted with your website will be shown ads with these keywords. Generally, this helps keep your ads more relevant, while still offering the benefits discussed above.

If you’d like to find out more speak to our team today to get started with your own digital campaign. We can advise you on the best platform for your paid spend, and which campaigns will be most effective for your business goals.




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