If you are running Google Ads (AdWords) or Microsoft Ads (Bing) for your small business PPC efforts, you may have noticed that there are different keyword match types you can use in your search campaigns. I am going to break down what these are and how to use them.
There are 4 key match types for keywords you can opt to use in your search campaigns:
- broad match
- +broad +match +modified
- “phrase match”
- [exact match]
Broad Match Keywords
I will be upfront with you and mention that I never use broad match keywords. I simply don’t like that kind of unruly lack of control. That being said, they do have a time and place.
Let’s say you have an appliance repair business and you have an ad group focused on reaching people who are actively searching Google for dryer repair. If you put the broad match keyword: dryer repair in your keywords list, your ad will appear for nearly any search that have these keywords in it. This is not a phrase, so they can appear in any order and in any search query. This means this keyword can make your ad appear for searches like:
How many of these search queries represent someone who is actively looking to pay someone to come repair their dryer?
More importantly, are you willing to pay up to $10+ per click for someone with any of these search queries to click your ad?
This is why the other 3 match types are so valuable. Going too broad with keywords can make your ad appear for just as many (or more) irrelevant search queries as it does for relevant searches.
I did mention that broad match keywords have a place, and the place is for those that have an unlimited or large budget and don’t care if their ads show willy-nilly across the web.
There are advertisers that just want as much visibility as possible. A company that only sells party supplies may be happy, and are willing to empty their bank account for their ads to popup for any search related to party supplies, whether or not the user is actually looking to purchase any party supplies at the given time. The person who saw the ad may just remember them down the road when they are actually looking to buy supplies. This particular advertiser would rank brand visibility as a higher priority goal than actual sales, and that is perfectly fine.
Broad Match Modified Keywords
By far my favorite and most used keyword match type. Although I use it more than any other match type, it still isn’t the most appropriate, unless it is used correctly.
Let’s go back to the dryer repairman who wants to find people who want to pay him to repair their dryer. You add +dryer +repair to your search keyword list. Guess what, it triggers ads for the same searches shown above. Even +dryer +repair is too broad.
The + simply tells the search engine that both words have to be present in the search query to trigger an ad.
Now let’s expand this match type to include some other modifiers:
- +dryer +repair +company
- +dryer +repair +near +me
- +dryer +repair +phoenix
This now tells the search engine that each word with a + in front of it has to be in the search query to trigger an ad. So the search query below would trigger an ad since dryer, repair and phoenix were all in the search query.
This also means that the search query below would not trigger your ad if the 3 keywords above were the only words in your keyword list.
Broad match modified keywords do not specify word order. Based on the that, the following search query would also trigger an ad because regardless of the order, dryer, repair and phoenix were all in the search query
Finally, broad match modified keywords are not limited to serving ads that only have the words in the query. The following search query would also trigger an ad because regardless of how many words were typed, dryer, repair and phoenix were all in the search query
Phrase Match Keywords
Let’s take the same keywords above and turn them into phrase match keywords. This now gives you more control over the order the words appear, as you are looking to trigger an ad for a specific phrase.
- “dryer repair company”
- “dryer repair near me”
- “dryer repair phoenix”
Based on the keyword list above, the search query below would no longer trigger an ad. There is no phrase above that specifies “phoenix dryer repair”.
The search query below would trigger an ad because right in the center of the query is the phrase “dryer repair company”, which is on the keyword list.
The best way to utilize “phrase” match types in your keyword list is to think about how someone would verbally ask what they are searching for.
Exact Match Keywords
Exact match keywords work similarly to broad match modified keywords. Exact match used to be truly exact, however Google changed this several years back to trigger ads for both exact terms as well as close variants to the keyword. Close variants can include misspellings and words/phrases with similar meanings.
I rarely use exact match anymore since Google initiated this change. Broad match modified covers my keyword list in much the same way, so I don’t consider an exact match necessary.
Exact match keywords are defined by wrapping the keyword in [brackets]. This indicates that all of these keywords (or keyword meanings) have to be present in the search query to trigger an ad. It is basically the exact way broad match modifiers work.
- [dryer repair company]
- [dryer repair near me]
- [dryer repair phoenix]
Where I do use exact match keywords are in the negative keyword list. Negative exact match keywords are truly exact. I will touch more on negative keyword strategies in future topics.
Using Match Types In Your Keyword Strategy
In summary, you want to think about all of the match types and how they work in your overall strategy. Your ad group could best be served with a healthy mix of match types to capture as many relevant search queries as you can and weed out the irrelevant traffic.
Ideally, you will put all of these match types together to create a strong and relevant keyword strategy for your Dryer Repair ad group. Your keyword list may start out with a list such as:
- [dryer repair service]
- +dryer +repair +near +me
- +dryer +repair +phoenix
- “dryer repair in phoenix”
- “what is the best dryer repair service in phoenix”
Let’s also get rid of an old myth, that you have to bid on misspellings. All match types will capture misspellings and close variants of your keywords, so bidding on these is no longer necessary.