Google Ads, Microsoft Advertising

How Ignoring Match Types Can Kill Your PPC Campaign

New advertisers have no trouble adding keywords to their paid search campaign, but far too many fail to change the keyword match types. We’ve seen a number of first-time advertisers creating campaigns with dozens of keywords, but who leave them all set to broad match. Sure, you’ll generate a lot of impressions, but you’ll also have a hard time turning those impressions into profitable clicks and conversions.

You’ll generate a lot of impressions with broad match keywords, but you’ll also have a hard time turning those impressions into profitable clicks and conversions.

The cold hard truth: Leaving your keywords set to broad match is a great way to lose money and ensure your campaign is DOA. Here’s a rundown of the match types offered by Google AdWords & Bing Ads and how they work with your keywords. Be sure to leverage the appropriate match types for each of your keywords to create healthy traffic for your ads.

How Match Types Work With Keywords

Paid search campaigns work by using keywords to trigger ads for relevant searches that take place on search engines like Google & Bing. Your ads are triggered when a user conducts a search that contains your keyword. If your keyword “shoes” is set to broad, your ad could show up if a user searches for “women’s shoes.” Match types give you control over how closely search queries need to match your keywords in order to trigger your ads. They're an additional layer of control over your keywords that let you target the searcher’s intent. If you want to target buyers of shoes, you could add the keyword "buy shoes" as a phrase match which would make you eligible to display your ads for searches like "where can I buy shoes online."

Match Types At a Glance


paid search match type table Match Types from Google AdWords


How Match Types Affect Impressions

In general, the broader the match type, the more impressions it will generate with less relevance. The narrower the match type, the more relevant the impressions will be, but with less volume. To put it differently, you can use a few broad keywords to create a campaign that will generate a high number of ad impressions, but you will find that these impressions are for somewhat irrelevant searches. Conversely, you could use a few exact match keywords to create a campaign that will result in very relevant ad impressions, but with low volume.

Keyword Match Types

  • Broad Match - This is the broadest match type (obviously). It has high traffic potential but with less relevance. Important individual words could be omitted and certain words can be added (like “jobs”) that dramatically change the intent of a search. I recommend being very conservative in your usage of broad matched keywords. Use them sparingly, apply lower bids, and check your search queries frequently in order to fine tune your keyword list.
  • Broad Match Modifier - This is similar to broad match. It has high traffic potential and words can still be added to the query. However, with broad match modifier, you can include a + symbol before individual words to require that they be present in the search query in order for your ads to be triggered.
  • Phrase Match - This is the happy medium between broad match and exact match. The keywords must be present and in that order for your ads to display, but words can still be appended before and after them. I recommend using phrase match for most of your keywords.
  • Exact Match - This is the most narrow of the match types. It results in extremely relevant searches because you are able to target an exact query, but the search volume is far lower. Make sure to include exact matched versions of your highest performing search queries.

Please note that you can have multiple instances of each keyword in different match types. You should set lower bids for your broader match types in order to focus your budget on the most relevant searches.

Negative Keyword Match Types

Negative keywords allows you to target keywords that you don’t want to show up for. They also can be used in conjunction with match types for tighter control.

  • Negative Broad - If you don’t want your ads to ever appear if a query contains “jobs,” you can add “jobs” as a broad match negative keyword. Be careful with broad negatives however, as they could create conflicts with your keywords and prevent your ads from appearing for relevant searches.
  • Negative Phrase - If you don’t want your ads to appear if the query contains “print jobs,” add “print jobs” as a phrase match negative keyword. Phrase match negatives are relatively safe if you avoid very common phrases that a reasonable searcher could include.
  • Negative Exact  - If there is a specific irrelevant search query that your ads are frequently showing up for and you don’t want to ever appear for it again, you can add it as an exact match negative keyword. It isn't worth your time to include exact match negatives for searches that take place once a month, so focus on the high volume search queries you want to exclude.
AdStage Team