Save Money on AdWords: A Guide to Match Types

PPC Blog, Videos 21st Oct 2011

Koozai > Koozai TV > Save Money on AdWords: A Guide to Match Types

Today I’m going to be talking to you a little bit about keyword match types in AdWords. We’ve made this video to stop common mistakes that we see on almost every type of campaign. One of the biggest mistakes that people make is the misuse of match types in AdWords.

In this guide we explain the correct way to use match types to save money on AdWords.

What match types have we got? We’ve got an exact match, phrase match, broad match, and the broad match modifier. Mostly I’m going to be covering first three types of match type in this video.

To give you an example, dog leads we’ll use as the example keyword here. Dog leads would be an exact match. Exact match means literally you have to type or the searcher has to type exactly the words that you’re using as your keywords into Google for it to display your ad.

Phrase match means that the keyword has to exist within a phrase. So in this case obviously this is our keyword, and you can prefix or suffix other words to that phrase, but the keyword itself must remain intact. You can’t mix the words up, change their order, or add words in the middle of them.

Now broad match is different. Every word can be replaced with another word. The order can be mixed up, and it’s really letting Google decide what it deems to be relevant to the keyword that you’ve chosen.

Now already you can see a scale of control here. Exact match keywords you have a lot control over. They’re very easy to curtail the number of impressions that you’re going to get. Phrase match opens up a bit. Dog leads, for example, you could have anything before or after – dog leads reviews, best dog leads, cheap dog leads, red dog leads. Obviously, you’ll need to curtail that with a negative keyword research, which we’ll get on to later.

So broad match is the widest possible scope. You can have any of your words replaced by other words that Google deems is relevant, and as a result, you have the least control over this type of match type, and this is the default match type as well.

So how do you control when your ads are displayed through keywords?

With keywords there are negative keywords. So we’ve exact match, phrase match, broad match, and negative keywords. You don’t have the broad match modifier for negative keywords. So an exact match negative keyword would prevent your ads from being displaying. If, using this example, dog leads were to be used, if you had that as a negative, then it would cancel out this ad from being displayed.

However, you can exclude words, such as ‘red’ or ‘cheap’ or ‘free’ or ‘view’, to try and limit the amount of impressions that your ads are going to have based on what you sell. If you don’t sell red dog leads, then red could be a good negative keyword to use.

The same rules apply for the rest of the negative keywords as they do for positive keywords. So phrase match would match a word in a phrase, and broad match would pretty much say anything using this word won’t be shown or any variation of it.

So that’s a basic overview of match types in AdWords. But that doesn’t really give you the strategies that you need to push highly efficient campaigns.

So in order to construct a very tight campaign, something that’s only going to display the right ads to the right people based on the right search term, we use a method called triangulation. Now in this method, we’ll have an exact phrase and broad match ad group. Each ad group will contain specifically the match types the ad group is limited to. So we’ll have an ad group with only exact match keywords, an ad group with only phrase, and the same with broad.

Now what we’re going to use is negative keywords in order to limit the exposure of those ads based on their match type. Exact match positive keywords don’t require negative keywords, because the ad will only ever be displayed if someone types in the exact term. So we’ll never need to curtail or limit our impressions with positive exact match keywords.

However, in the phrase match group, we’ll add exact match negative keywords for every keyword in this group. So assuming that say we’ve got dog leads and red dog leads as keywords in this group, we would have both dog leads and red dog leads as exact match negatives, specifically at ad group level for the phrase match ad group.

Then the broad match ad group will have phrase match at negative keywords, again following the same pattern. So if the keywords in this group are dog leads and red dog leads, we would have negative phrase match keywords at ad group level for dog leads and red dog leads.

Now what this does is it restricts the times at which your ads are shown. So your exact match ads will show whenever someone types in the phrase exactly. That’s always going to be the case. However, if they type in the phrase exactly, the exact match negative will prevent any of your phrase match ads from displaying as will the phrase match in the broad. This means that only the ads in your exact match ad group will be shown for that particular keyword.

Likewise if someone searches for a phrase, such as ‘long red dog leads UK’, then this will be a phrase match. Exact will never show because it’s not an exact match. Broad match could have shown, but because we’ve excluded any phrase possibilities from allowing that to be displayed, only the phrase match will display. The same is true for the broad match, because phrase and exact won’t bring up those. Those ads won’t be displayed as a result of these searches. Only the broad match ones will if it is broad match keyword.

Now what this does is it gives you a lot more control over your ad text or your ad copy. For each particular ad group, you can create much more targeted text that’s specific. In the case of exact match, you would want to use the exact keyword that you’re targeting within the ad text as this will bring the ad up. It will be more relevant. This has knock-on effects in terms of improving click-through rates or improving relevance, improving quality score. That all has a knock-on effect to reduce the cost per click and ultimately the cost per conversion.

With the phrase match, again you want to use the keyword within the ad text more than likely, but also you might want to use sort of dynamic keyword in search in either before or after to make the ad more relevant to the searcher. With broad match, you can be a little bit less specific with your ad copy, and you’re really throwing the net sort of a little bit wider here. So by doing this you can target a much broader audience and without restricting people by having the same ad text for what would essentially be every variation or every combination of match type. You can create much more efficient and tight campaigns, ensuring that your ads are only really being displayed as and when they need to be displayed and to the right people.

The obvious benefits of this, as I said, are reducing the cost per click, the cost per conversion, increasing the whole health of the account by bringing click-through rates up, and being relevant to the searcher, which is ultimately the aim of anyone optimising a pay per click campaign.

I’ve come on to the broad match modifier last because it’s not used as much throughout campaigns. You don’t have a negative version of it. Essentially what this does here is if you put the broad match modifier plus sign in front of say the word “dog” in our keyword here, it would mean that the word dog can’t substituted for any other type of word. It can be moved position, changed order, but the word itself cannot be changed. This curtails a little bit more the broad match type. In this case, leads could be changed for another type of word, harness or strap, collar, that kind of thing. But you might specifically only sell dog related paraphernalia. So you can limit that a little bit more here.

But in terms of generally limiting the exposure of ads to keep it relevant to the user or the searcher, we really do need to use negative keywords. Broad match would be the most common way of excluding terms, as mentioned earlier. If you don’t sell red dog leads, then use the word “red” as a broad match negative, and that will prevent your ads from being shown. The importance of this is really if you get into a campaign, you go into the search terms, and you can see everyone that’s searched for something, that then as a result of that clicked on your ad.

Now that’s fine, but what that doesn’t show you is all of the search terms that people searched for that displayed your ad or triggered your ad to be displayed but then didn’t click on it. As a result, there could be thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of search terms that people are putting into Google that are bringing up your ad, that are giving you an impression, reducing your click-through rate, damaging your quality score, and you just won’t know what they are. So this really highlights the importance of negative keyword research in any campaign. What you often see with a campaign that’s being set up by someone that is not trained or hasn’t much experience in AdWords is that everything is put on broad match. There will be actually no negative keywords in the campaign, and as a result, people spend a lot of money on keywords that just aren’t relevant to their business. Then they’ve no real commercial value to them what so ever, and quite often people will lose interest or faith in the system because it’s just not making them money. Whereas in most cases, adding few negative keywords, a couple of thousands or a few hundred depending on the size of the campaign will really make a massive difference to the overall efficiency of the campaign.

Okay. So that’s keyword match type in AdWords. My name is Alec Sharratt. If you’d like to see more of my blogs, you can do so on our YouTube Koozai channel. You can follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, or visit our website at Thanks for your time. Good-bye.


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