What are Keyword Match Types?

Keyword match types define the relationship between a search and how that search query triggers advertisements. Understanding keyword match types and how they relate to search ads is critical to realizing desired results and ROI (Return On Investment).

Using Keyword Match Types to Meet Your Advertising Goals

The video above from Google AdWords uses a scenario that many small business owners will relate to. In the video, Sarah, who owns and operates an online hat shop, is using search ads to increase sales.

Her story is very similar to how many businesses use Google AdWords today to run search campaigns for their direct response advertising initiatives. The story provides a good context for explaining keyword match types and use cases for each.

This is her story… (now image the Law and Order soundbyte right after they say “this is their story” 🙂

What is a match type?

What is a keyword match type? Using Sarah’s Online Hat Shop as an illustrative example.

Sarah designs hats and sells them on the Sarah’s Hat Shop online store. Her search advertising campaigns are driving people to her eCommerce website, but she wants to do a better job of attracting customers who actually make purchases. Like many reading this, Sarah is in business to make a living.

Over time, one issue that Sarah runs into is the low relevancy of her ads to many of the types of searchers they are being shown them. Sarah decides to use keyword match types to more closely control who’s likely to see her ads and help her use her advertising budget more effectively.

With keyword match types, Sarah can decide just how closely someone’s search query needs to match her keyword before they’re shown one of her ads. Remember, keywords are the triggers that cause an ad to be displayed relative a user’s search query.

Broad Reach with the Keyword Broad Match Type

Use the Broad Keyword Match Type when you are just starting out. The Broad Match Keyword Type is great for reaching many when trying to get your name out there. Think branding and awareness objectives. Think top of the funnel and casting a wide net.

Relevancy may be thin for some of the searches that trigger an ad but results will help identify searches are triggering specific ads and how much resulting clicks cost.

Broad match type example - show searches that will trigger an ad

Broad match example to show what searches would trigger search ad to show

In AdWords, by default every keyword is broad match. This means that Sarah’s search ads can show for online searches that loosely match her keywords. But they also show for searches that are closely related to her keywords like synonyms or common misspellings. With broad matches, ads can be triggered by longer phrases that contain her keywords.

Like many other small businesses, when Sarah first started advertising on Google AdWords, she wanted her ads to reach as many people as possible. She wanted to reach anyone who might be interested in her hats. To accomplish this, she used the broad keyword match type for her keywords to ensure that her search ads could show for the widest possible audience.

Use Keyword Phrase Match to Get More Targeted

Now Sarah wants to narrow the searches that trigger her ads to those searches that are more relevant to her business, because she is in business to make a living. To accomplish this, she switches some of her keywords to trigger more relevant search ads by using a keyword phrase match.

Phrase match type example - show searches that will and will not trigger an ad

Keyword phase match example to show which searches will and will not trigger a search ad

Sarah’s search ad showed when people search for those exact terms. Her ads also showed when people searched with phrases like buy ladies hats and summer hats when using the keyword phrase match option. With the keyword phrase match type, Sarah can be a little more specific about who will see her ads.

Phrase match is like broad match except that it doesn’t include synonyms or search terms that contain words in the middle of your keyword phrase.

When Sarah creates a new line of yellow hats, she decides she wants to get more targeted with her keywords by using the phrase match.

For instance,  using keyword yellow hat set to phrase match, she can reach customers who search for yellow hats and also for phrases like:

  • where to buy yellow hats and
  • stylish yellow hats

However, since phrase match doesn’t allow for or additional words that break up the keyword, her ads won’t show on searches for

  • Gold hats or
  • yellow and fur hats

Using phrase match provides greater targeting and relevance at the expense of broader reach and exposure.

Use Keyword Exact Match Types for Most Targeted

Most experienced advertisers understand the relationship between ad relevancy and ROI. Namely, the more relevant and ad, the more ROI the advertiser can expect.

Keyword exact match types result in the highest ad relevancy, though usually at expense of missing some opportunities. For some keywords, exact match types are the best for driving a return on ad spend.

Exact match type example to show which searches will be triggered by different searches

Keyword exact match type example – showing searches that will trigger an ad

The exact match option is much more selective. With exact match, a person’s search term must match your keyword almost exactly for your ad to show on the search results page.

Adding Keywords from Search Terms Report

In search advertising, understanding what searches trigger your ads and which searches ultimately lead to sales can be very valuable when optimizing your campaigns.

Optimize by adding high converting keywords from Search Terms Report

Optimize by adding high value keywords of different match types from Search Terms Report

After using AdWords for a few months, Sarah has collected enough data in her account to determine which of her keywords are leading to the most sales.

As she is optimizing her search ad campaigns, Sarah looks at the AdWords Search Terms Report for these keywords to see the actual search terms that people used to trigger her ad/clicks.

She identifies the search terms that lead to the most clicks and sales and adds hem to her keyword list as exact match type.  This way she’s able to increase the chances that her ads will show to someone likely to make a purchase.

Sarah continues to use keyword phrase match and broad match types for some of her other keywords to ensure she’s still reaching a broad range of potential customers and getting her name out there.

Negative Keywords

Negative keywords ensure that your search ads won’t show to those searching for a certain products or services that you don’t offer. In other words, searches that contain words that indicates that those searches are not relevant to your business.

Negative keywords prevent your ad from showing on irrelevant searches

Negative keywords prevent ads from showing for searches that are irrelevant to your business

For instance, Sarah doesn’t sell baseball hats so she added the word baseball as a negative keyword to all of her campaigns. Using baseball as a negative keyword, Sarah avoids paying for ad clicks from people who are searching for baseball caps, a product she doesn’t sell.

Using the Right Keyword Match Type to Drive Results/ROI

Make sure you are using the right keyword match type in your search ads. Selecting the most appropriate match type relative to your advertising objectives is an important way to ensure you’re reaching the right audience which can lead to more sales and a better ROAS  (Return On Advertising Spend).

Need Help with Setting Up and Optimizing Your Keyword Match Types?

Still confused on what is a keyword match type? No problem! We do this for a living and got you covered. If you want help setting up or auditing the match types for keywords in your search campaigns, then submit your information below and be contacted by a search advertising specialist.

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Rick Noel is an experienced digital marketer enabling businesses and organizations to grow through the Internet, while maximizing marketing ROI (Return On Investment). Rick is the CEO and Co-Founder of eBiz ROI, Inc., a full-service digital marketing agency located in Ballston Lake, NY.

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