Understanding Keyword Match Types

Fundamental to PPC campaign setup and success on AdWords and Bing is the infamous decision on which keyword match type to use – broad match, broad match modifier, phrase match or exact match? The topic of match types is not new and in fact we’ve talked about it many times before, but there has been additional context along the way to consider that we discuss below with helpful advice and even a recent update from Bing. Understanding match types is essential to the success of campaigns so newcomers listen up.

Keyword Match Types

Broad Match

Selecting Broad Match means your ads will show when someone searches something broadly related to your keyword. Broad match is the default match type on all keywords added to a campaign in AdWords and Bing.

Broad match definitely isn’t most-loved by PPC specialists because it often means inefficient and expensive campaigns that waste money showing ads to users with search queries that are way too broad to convert. On the other hand advertisers ensure their ads show for all possible searches related to their keywords and can learn a lot from the broad match data this match type generates.

Broad match can be used for new campaigns as a strategy for keyword discovery. Start broad and narrow down to keywords that perform the best in your search term performance reports. Then change the match type of your best performing keywords to phrase match or exact match and make use of negative keywords, to kickstart a well formulated campaign.

Example Keyword:

  • Orange Car

Possible Searches that Trigger Your Ad:

  • Looking to buy an orange Crosstrek
  • How many people have cars that are orange or red in the world?
  • What colour car gets the most speeding tickets?

Broad Match Modifier (BMM)

Broad Match Modifier allows advertisers to take the principles of broad match, but specify one word in the keyword phrase that must be present in the search query for their ad to show. Including a modifier can help advertisers narrow the results of their campaign discovery process from the get-go. The modifier is identified with a plus symbol as shown in the example below and can appear before or after the other keywords specified.

Broad match modifier is a nice happy medium between broad match and phrase match. For example, before BMM advertisers had to either pay Google more than they wanted to and use broad match or use phrase match and have to think of every variation of their keyword possible to not miss out.

A Case for BMM:

“...if we were trying to promote our blue widgets [with phrase match], we might start with “blue widgets” as a search term but soon have to add “widgets in blue,” “blue color widgets,” and so on. With the introduction of BMM, advertisers were suddenly able to cover hundreds of possible search terms by simply using +blue +widgets.” – Search Engine Land

Example Keyword:

  • +Orange Car

Possible Searches that Trigger Your Ad:

  • Buy an orange Crosstrek
  • Renting a vehicle that’s orange
  • Orange Car Wash coupons

Phrase Match

Phrase Match has to have the keyword in the order that it’s written within the search queries entered for ads to show. Before BMM, phrase match was the way to go, but ever since modifiers came out there have been rumours of its demise. Search Engine Land author, Steve Cameron, recently published an article talking about when to use phrase match, explaining that historical campaigns that have phrase match included in ad groups and good conversion data should likely be kept this way since they will have a good quality score. He also cites a few industry peeps who think phrase match is more important than ever as match types get a more fuzzy and others who are just more comfortable with this match type than BMM.

Advertisers can specify phrase match type by including quotation marks around the keyword in AdWords or Bing as shown in the example below.

Example Keyword:

  • “Orange Car”

Possible Searches that Trigger Your Ad:

  • Orange Car Wash coupons
  • How many people drive an orange car?
  • Kids orange car and garage play station

Exact Match

Exact Match means your ad will only show when someone searches the keyword exactly how it is written. To make use of this match type advertisers can put square brackets around these keywords.

Exact Match is typically a strategy that’s too limited, however there are a few situations where it makes sense to use exact match. A branded campaign is a good example.  If your brand was JoJo’s Puppy Sweaters, it could be a waste of money for your ad to be showing for every search of puppy. Instead make your brand an exact match keyword so your ad is showing only for qualified branded searches. In August 2017 Bing announced they’ll be updating exact match to include close variants of the keyword, which will help advertisers get more clicks. Google added close variants to exact match earlier this year.

What are Close Variants?

“Close variants can include singular and plural forms, abbreviations, misspellings, punctuations, word blending, accents and stemming. This can help in not only driving additional clicks where the customer intent is the same, but also save you time by not having to build and manage the many variations of your keywords.” – PPC Hero

Example Keyword:

  • [Orange car]

Possible Searches that Trigger Your Ad:

  • Orange car
  • Close variants of Orange car like Orange cars

Adding and Changing Match Types

For an easy overview of how to add or change the match types of your keywords in AdWords watch the video below (love that intro music!):

Image Credits

Feature Image: Unsplash/Jamie Street

Video: Source

Chandal Nolasco Da Silva

Chandal Nolasco Da Silva

With nearly a decade of digital marketing experience, Chandal has created content strategies for both the biggest and sometimes the most unexpected markets, while developing strategic relationships with editors and publishers. Chandal contributes to some of the highest authority industry publications, has been featured in industry events and is thrilled to be Acquisio’s Content Director.

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