Approximately 9 minute read

In a recent Strategic Search Engine Marketing course that I teach at UMSL , it became quite evident to me how extremely important the usage of proper keyword match types really is within a PPC campaign. As a matter of fact, probably one of the most imperative elements of a PPC account. Using the incorrect keyword match type can invoke irrelevant traffic, exhaust budgets, fail ROI, and create unnecessary frustrations. This is something that both new and experienced PPC marketers can easily overlook. 

Why Put an Emphasis on Keyword Research?

Selecting the correct keywords to use within a campaign is considered to be one of the most tedious tasks. It is something that just about any Paid Search marketer faces. Finding the correct keywords ensures the ability to trigger impressions on your ads. Ultimately establishing proper visibility for your products or services to potential customers that are truly interested in what you have to offer. Identifying the correct keyword match type can be a challenging task.

The 5 Different Keyword Match Types

Admittedly this isn’t something new to me. Especially after working in the Search Marketing industry professionally for over 10 years now. However, every once in a while I am reminded of the importance keyword match types play within a Pay-Per-Click Marketing campaign. Although as I tend to teach twice a year it is in fact a good refresher to remind myself of their proper usage.

Ok, let’s talk about the different keyword match types.


Sparking Up Potential Using Broad Keyword Match Type

This the most commonly used keyword match type in a Pay-Per-Click Marketing campaign. It is the one keyword match type that allows the most amount of exposure for any campaign or ad group. On the flip side of that coin though it is also considered to be the most expensive one of all. Using the Broad Match can generate a ton of activity to your ads. Let’s refer to this click activity as ‘Happy Clicking’. That’s right! Anything and everything from a user’s search query that matches one or more words of your Broad Match type will generate click activity.

Allow me to explain. For the sake of this article, let’s assume a hypothetical business scenario. Mary owns a bakery that makes the best chocolate chip cookies around. She is interested in exploring Pay-Per-Click Marketing as a channel to help drive more traffic and sales to her business. One of the areas she is particularly interested in driving more interest are cookies. Everyone loves cookies. Especially chocolate chip cookies.

When Mary first setup her Pay-Per-Click account she created a campaign for ‘Cookies‘. One of her ad groups was titled ‘Chocolate Cookies‘. Inside that ad group she incorporated Broad Keyword Match Type terms such as chocolate chip cookies. Her intent was to spark as much interest as possible around the pure deliciousness. Her ads could appear for searches such as chocolate, chip, cookies, chocolate chip cookies, and anything that is before or after chocolate chip cookies. Now you can only imagine the type of traffic she might attract with this specific keyword match type.

Using the Broad Keyword Match Type is ideal for a few different scenarios:

  • Driving bulk traffic to your site. Especially if this is a brand new campaign that you have just created. One that does not have historical performance.
  • Establishing brand awareness and generating interest. If you are a new business or startup this could be a great way to get the word out there. Therefore promoting your products and services to the masses.
  • Opening things up for a segmented or very specific campaign that may be lacking traffic potential. In certain industries and verticals there is lower than usual demand and search volume. Therefore inserting Broad Keyword Match Type into the keyword selection may in fact help spark new opportunities.

Refining the ‘Happy Clickers’ with Broad Modifier Keyword Match Type

This particular keyword match type was introduced a couple of years ago. A great new addition for Google AdWords and Yahoo|Bing Ads advertising platforms. Instead of resorting for the Broad Match Keyword Type now there is a alternative way to leverage that particular feature with an additional functionality. Allow me to explain further.

Let’s say that Mary is using the Broad Modifier Keyword Match Type +buy +chocolate +chip +cookies within her ‘Chocolate Cookies‘ adgroup. Notice the + signs next to each specific keyword term. When using this particular keyword match type the user’s search query must match the keyword or phrase in our list in order to display an ad. In other words the terms have to be matched exactly in order to display one of your ads. However, the query can also be reversed and also spark an ad to displayed to a potential customer of yours.

When is it appropriate to use the Broad Modifier Keyword Match Type?

  • If you’ve determined that based on a Search Term report that there are certain broad keywords or phrases that are applicable to your products or services.
  • Keeping things diverse in your adgroups by not confining things. In other words, exploring targeted broad keyword terms and phrases and may perhaps spark additional interest with potential customers.
  • Reaching additional customers but simultaneously retaining a hyperfocused approach with your keyword selection.

Expanding Potential by Leveraging Phrase Keyword Match Type

This particular keyword match type tend to be commonly misconstrued. But it is one that can particularly refine the overall performance of a specific adgroup. It is most commonly utilized when you may be seeking specific traffic around your products or services.

Ok, let’s go back to Mary’s bakery example one more time. Say that you are utilizing the Phrase Keyword Match Type with the phrase “chocolate cookies“. Notice how they are surrounded by quotations. This is how you can specify to Google AdWords or Yahoo|Bing Ads that you are focusing on a phrase match. Using this scenario your ads may show up for phrase match searches such as “buy chocolate cookies“, “buy chocolate cookies online“, or “chocolate cookies bakery near me“.

The order of phrase does not matter. It can have other words before or after it but never in-between.

When is Phrase Keyword Match Type most appropriate to use?

  • Refining inbound traffic to your ads by focusing on trendy phrase searches.
  • Once an adgroup has matured to further segment your target audience and understand their intent to purchase.

There might be other applicable scenarios where using Phrase Keyword Match Type would also be applicable. But in the grand scheme of things, as long as it contains two or more words than you can truly focus on identifying potential behind such phrases.


Narrowing Things Down (Exact Keyword Match Type)

Refining your traffic by segmenting all the way to specific keyword terms and phrases is the ultimate goal for any PPC advertiser. It gives you the ability to target those specific users who are searching for the exact products or services you offer. Yes, of course. Everyone wants to accomplish that. Please keep in mind though that before you can use the Exact Keyword Match Type there will need to be a significant amount of data to leverage. In other words, I would advise against using this particular match type right out of the gate. Particularly with brand new campaigns and adgroups.

Say, Mary has added [chocolate cookies], [chocolate chip cookies], or even [macadamia cookies] to a ‘Cookies‘ adgroup. Notice the parenthesis around the phrases. Entering them inside the PPC platform in such fashion will ensure proper triggering. Users will need to enter the phrases precisely as listed below, close variations, or plural versions in order to see one of Mary’s ads. Never a synonym of those words though.

When is it appropriate to use the Exact Keyword Match Type?

  • Once certain adgroups have gained maturity. Mainly due to the fact that by then you should have a clear indication of what those specific exact keyword phrases might be.
  • If you are certain about specific keywords or phrases that your customers might be using to find your products or services.
  • Factual data that can solidify you rationale for using those specific keywords or phrases.

Finding Potential in Negative Keyword Terms

When it comes PPC keyword match types, negative keyword terms are probably the ones that end up unintentionally forgotten. But, why should you use negative keywords in your campaigns and adgroups? Did you know that you can fine tune PPC traffic by excluding words or phrases that you do not your ads to show up on? For example, let’s say Mary does not want to show her ads for searches such as free chocolate cookies or cheap chocolate cookies. Perhaps even instances of words such as “free” or “cheap“.

Fortunately the negative keyword match type allows for Broad, Exact, and Phrase Match word exclusions. So, you can use -free or [free] as part of your negative terms. Notice the dash in front of broad and exact match instances. This helps each PPC platform in distinguishing the keywords or phrases that you want to exclude your ads from showing up to searchers.


When and where can you use the negative keyword match type?

  • Negative keyword match type is available at the adgroup or campaign level. Allowing for flexibility and control over exclusions within respective areas.
  • If exclusions for specific words or phrases are necessary.
  • Once a campaign or adgroup has gained enough traffic to define how you can further focus on targeted traffic.

Be Mindful of the Following Items

Regardless of what keyword match type you use there are a couple of things to also be mindful of. Misspellings, close variations, or plural versions are also eligible. If the PPC platform determines that there is relevance in relation to your keyword selection than it will allow the triggering of one of your ads. This is actually quite handy and beneficial for all of your adroups. There is no additional charge for close variations, plurals, or misspellings that may have triggered one of your ads.

Are you using proper keyword match types in your PPC campaigns and adgroups? Share your thoughts and comments in the section below.