When running Search Campaigns in Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords), everything revolves around the keywords you choose to target. But selecting your target keywords is only half of the challenge, as you must also ensure you are using the appropriate keyword match types. Otherwise, your Google Ads campaigns will be both inefficient and difficult to manage.
In this in-depth guide, we will be answering your burning questions about keyword match types. We will reveal the impact they have on the overall success of your campaigns and provide a breakdown of the match types you can choose from. Therefore, helping you to create and manage Google Ads campaigns with little fuss, minimal wastage, and maximum performance.
In this guide, we will answer:
- What Are Keyword Match Types?
- How Do Match Types Impact Success?
- Which Keyword Match Types Should You Use?
What Are Keyword Match Types?
In simple terms, keyword match types allow you to control the specificity of the audience your advertisements are shown to. This is done by adding parameters around the keywords you are targeting when setting up your campaigns. These parameters tell Google how closely you want a person’s search query to match your target keywords.
There are 4 different match types at your disposal, including broad match, modified broad match, phrase match, and exact match. The extent to which they restrict the size of your audience varies between each, with broad match being the least restrictive and exact match being the most restrictive. You must carefully use them to ensure your campaign has ample reach without being wasteful.
How Do Match Types Impact Success?
The keyword match type used can negative impact the success of your Google Ads campaigns. This is as some match types, such as broad match, will result in your ad being shown to less relevant people and other match types, such as exact match, may prevent your ad being shown to relevant people. When this happens, your cost per acquisition may skyrocket or you may struggle to scale your campaigns.
The amount of ongoing optimisation you will need to perform is also influenced by the match types you use. This is as less restrictive match types, such as broad match, will need a lot of negative keywords to be added if you are to prevent wastage. Other more restrictive match types, such as exact match, will rely less on negative keywords being added. The more optimisation required, the more time you or a PPC agency will need to invest.
Which Keyword Match Types Should You Use?
In many cases, a mixture of keyword match types is ideal. This allows you to carefully balance the use of less and more confined Google Ads campaigns. You can then see what impact the match types have on key metrics (i.e. CPC, CPA and Con. Rate) before deciding which is best suited for your brand.
But before you begin to set-up your campaigns, it is important that you understand the different keyword match types, the arguments for using each, and the impact they may have on your overall performance.
By default, any keywords added during the set-up of your Google Ads campaigns will use broad match. This is the least restrictive and widest reaching keyword match type, which will see your ads being shown whenever a person’s search query includes any of the words contained within your target keyword and in any order. When using broad match, your ads may also be shown when a person’s search query contains a synonym.
For example, if you are targeting the keyword “conveyancing solicitors” your ad may be shown if a user searches for “family solicitors” or “conveyancing advice”. This is as at least one of the words within your target keyword was present in the search query. Therefore, your ad could be shown to irrelevant people unless you include words such as “family” or “advice” as a negative keyword within that campaign.
The ad below demonstrates the consequences of using broad match. We searched for “conveyancing solicitors” but have been served an advertisement for mis-sold mortgages instead. Whilst a person is less likely to click on this ad, a portion of people will. The brand, who is likely targeting a broad match keyword that contains the word “conveyancing”, will therefore be using a portion of their budget to drive irrelevant people to their website who are unlikely to convert.
Whilst broad match is brilliant for driving a lot of clicks, this is rarely the only goal of a Google Ads campaign. Instead you will want to gain conversions at the lowest possible cost, which is difficult to achieve when using this keyword match type. Thankfully, modified broad match and phrase match offer a happy medium.
Modified Broad Match
The biggest issue with broad match is that it only requires a person’s search query to contain one of the words in your target keyword or a close synonym of those words. Modified broad match aims to overcome this issue by requiring particular words to be present before your ads can be shown. This allows you to reach a broader audience than other keyword match types, such as phrase match, whilst still allowing you to prevent wastage.
For example, if you are targeting the keyword “white sneakers” you’re able to adjoin a “+” before one or both words to ensure that word is present in the search query. Targeting the keyword “white +sneakers” would mean your ad may show for searches such as “adidas sneakers” or “black sneakers”. But you could also target the keyword “+white +sneakers”, which would mean your ad may show for searches such as “white nike sneakers” or “cheap white sneakers”.
By adding the “+” before each of the words in your keyword, you are requiring them to both be present in the search query. However, your ad will still be shown if another word is placed before, between, or after those words. If you want greater control and prevent keywords being added between the words, then consider using phrase match instead.
Unlike modified broad match, phrase match requires all the words to be present in a person’s search query by default. What’s more, it does not allow for terms to be placed between those words. This is particularly useful if the introduction of a term could significantly change the intent or context of a search.
For example, if you are targeting the keyword “building supplies”, your ad may be shown for searches such as “building supplies Manchester” or “cheapest building supplies”. But your ad would not be shown for searches such as “building insulation supplies” as a term separates the words contained within your target keyword. This provides you with added control over when your ads are shown whilst still allowing people to add locations, styles, colours and more either before or after your target keyword.
The ad below demonstrates why phrase match is a useful option. We searched for “building insulation supplies” and have been served an advertisement for cement flooring. This is probably because the brand is using either broad match or modified broad match to target the keyword “building supplies”. Whilst people are unlikely to click on their ad, any clicks that do occur are unlikely to result in a conversion.
For the highest level of specificity and greatest restriction, you will likely want to use exact match. This keyword match type will ensure your ads are only shown when a person’s search query exactly matches that of your target keyword. But please note that your ad may also be shown if a search query contains close synonyms or plurals.
For example, if you are targeting the keyword “London financial advisor”, your ads will only be shown if a person’s search query is “London financial advisor” or perhaps “London financial advisor’s”. Your ads would not be shown for searches such as “financial advisor in London” or “London’s best financial advisor”.
By surrounding your target keywork with “[ ]”, you are requiring the search query to exactly match your target keyword. This will ensure that only the most relevant people click on your ads and virtually remove the need to add negative keywords. That said, it can also limit the ability to scale your Google Ads campaigns and could prevent you from discovering other relevant keywords to target.
- Keyword match types could be the difference between a successful and unsuccessful Google Ads campaign. You must carefully choose which you use to prevent wasting your budget or restricting your reach.
- To determine which match types if best, monitor the metrics such as CPC, CPA and Conv. Rate for each keyword. Also keep an eye on your search terms report to identify keywords that are repeatedly causing your ads to show for irrelevant queries.
- Broad match susceptible to wastage, with it providing the least control of when your ads are shown. Therefore, using this keyword match type is likely to result in waste and require extensive optimisation.
- Phrase match is a happy medium between broad match and exact match. It provides you with enough control to limit irrelevant people from seeing your ads without limiting the reach of your ads too much.
- Exact match virtually eliminates irrelevant people from seeing your ads, but also prevents you from discovering other highly performing keywords and scaling your campaigns.
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