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  • Writer's pictureJoe Karasin

Keyword Match Types

When running Google Ads or Bing Ads, or any other PPC ad, you’ll be instructed to select a list of keywords. You can get a better understanding of keywords by checking out our general keyword blog. This piece will focus on the different match types you can use when creating your ad groups.

First, it might help to explain what a match type is. A match type is the way a keyword might be entered by a searcher in a query to the search engine. For example, a consumer might go online to purchase shoes. They might simply enter ‘shoes’. Or they might input ‘shoe stores’ or ‘footwear’. In other words, there are literally thousands upon thousands of ways an individual user might search for shoes. What does this mean for an advertiser? It means that you’ll need to get really well versed in the practice of search theory. Search theory is simply the study and understanding of how humans interact with search engines.

Once you have decided the keywords you think will best serve your campaign goals, it is time to start building your list. One tool that will help you is the use of different match types. There are 5 keyword match types, and I will break them down and give examples below.

The first, and most general match type, is a broad match. Broad match keywords are simply short or long tail keywords with absolutely no modifiers. So, in our above example ‘shoes’, ‘shoe store’, ‘shoe store near me’, and ‘where to buy shoes’ would all be considered broad match keywords.

Broad match keywords are designed to cast a very wide net. Your ad may display on searches for stores that do not necessarily sell shoes, such as ‘clothing store’ or ‘record store’. Because each word within the long tail keyword is considered, these keywords could create a high number of impressions, however, they may also not lead to a high number of conversions. If using broad match, stick to short tail keywords, otherwise you may end up blowing through your budget rather quickly.

The next match type is modified broad match. This keyword type makes the scope of the keyword a bit more narrow. A modified broad match keyword would look like +shoe store, or +shoe store near +Manhattan. The ‘+’ indicates that the word attached must be included in the query. So, by putting +shoe in front of +shoe store, you will show up on searches that include shoe, and also any words closely associated with store (seller, retailer, etc).

These are best used when you want to distinguish yourself within a broad field. For example, lawyers that specialize in bankruptcy would want to use +bankruptcy in their long tail keywords, to reduce the risk of their ad displaying when a searcher is looking for a criminal defense attorney or personal injury attorney.

Yet another match type is the phrase match. This type of keyword is surrounded by quotation marks. So, “buy a pair of shoes” might be a phrase match keyword we want to use in our shoe retailer example. Phrase match might seem almost identical to modified broad match, but it is a more narrow search term, and is ideal for long tail keywords, as well as voice search.

By using phrase match, we are telling Google to display our ad when someone enters a search that includes a string of words in a particular order. If you’re looking to educate the consumer, phrase match works well for searches like “are nike shoes better than adidas” or “what type of lawyer do I need for chapter 11 bankruptcy.” Because keywords are limited to 10 individual words in length, they are especially helpful in capturing voice searches performed on smart phones or devices like Alexa or Google Home. Many people start their query with ‘Hey Google’ and then ask a question, the query includes the ‘hey google’. With voice search on the rise, it is important to use phrase match strategically when planning your keywords.

Another keyword match type you’ll want to understand is exact match. Exact match keywords are bracketed like [shoe store]. This is the most narrow match type, and is designed to grab the highest intent searchers. The best use of exact match keywords would be to drive highly motivated consumers to a landing page, or your e-commerce store.

You might want to use exact match in instances when you sell one version of a product, such as [air jordan VI] or [nike air force one]. You might also want to keep your exact match keywords in their own ad group, as they can be conflated with other types.

The final type of keyword you’ll need to learn about and understand is a negative keyword. A negative keyword will exclude your ad from auctions on queries that contain them. They are indicated by a ‘-’ in front of them. For example, if you only sell athletic shoes in your store, then you may want to use negative keywords such as -dress, -casual, or, -dock.

Negative keywords are essential for any search campaign, as they prevent your ad from displaying at less than opportune times, allowing you to further specify who sees your ad and when.

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