Adwords Keyword Match Types Explained

I would dare say that this is one of the most important blog posts ever written. In the history of ever.
Why?
Because almost every new account we look at has a big problem with Keyword Match Types.

Why do I say this?
If you’re match types aren’t well thought out, you’re going to end up paying for a bunch of search terms like this:

Google Adwords Search Terms Report

Do you think ALL of these people are looking for a House Cleaner?

This is the search terms report for a cleaning company’s adwords account. Want to see your own?

Google Adwords how to find the Search Terms Report

Click on your campaign, click on keywords, and click on “Search Terms”.

Don’t forget to set your time period in the top-right-hand corner as well.
Selecting your time period for your report

If you open up your very own search terms report and see a bunch of search terms that you don’t think would relate to your product or service then you have a problem. This list is what people are actually searching before clicking your ads. If you’re getting a sick feeling in your stomach, thinking of all the money you’ve spent on wasted clicks, relax. It sucks but we’re going to fix that right here, right now.

Adwords Keyword Match Types

There are 4 types of match types, here’s a quick overview:
Google Adwords Keyword Match Types Overview in a table

Broad Match

Broad Match is the broadest, loosest and most liberal match type of all. Using this match type is going to fill your search terms report with searches that are super broad and different. Most accounts are stuffed with these and end up costing the client a massive amount of Adspend with minimal results.
Main Points to know:
You have much less control over the search terms people will be using to see your ads
It will show searches much less related to your keywords
If you use broad match you will need to have a very good Negative Keyword strategy to stop your ads showing for unrelated and unwanted searches (searches for jobs, adult services, other unrelated products, etc).

When would we use Broad Match?
We’d recommend using broad match sparingly. Only when you have a big advertising budget and want to collect a lot of data on what searches people are using and then build more targeted campaigns with tighter keyword match types. Don’t use it as your main conversion strategy, save that for the other match types where you have a lot more control over what terms you are showing for.

Modified Broad Match

Modified broad match is like the conservative brother that still likes to go out partying once a month to remember what it’s like to live again. Does that make sense? Probably not. Well, Modified Broad Match differs from Broad Match because it allows us to capture searches that are varied from our keyword but not TOO varied. It doesn’t go crazy and start showing our cleaning ads for someone looking for a computer cleaner in Oxford. It shows our cleaning ads for searches like “house cleaner in Sydney”. It’s more varied than phrase match, but not full on crazy like the regular Broad Match.

The advantage?

Modified Broad Match allows us to see what different terms people are using to search for our service, all the while not showing searches that are totally unrelated. This is a good balance between the super broad Broad Match Type and the super tight Exact Match Type.

When would we use Modified Broad Match?

We use Modified Broad Match Types when we use the Single Keyword Adgroup method to build out our campaigns. This strategy allows us to create targeted ads towards user searches while collecting data to build out more Adgroups targeted towards variations of those original searches.

Phrase Match

Phrase match gives us more much control than broad match and Modified Broad Match while still giving our keywords a bit of slack to pick up other search results, still closely related to the original keyword. With Phrase Match, we set a “phrase”, and if that phrase exists anywhere in the search query then our ads will be eligible to show. This phrase must remain intact in its’ original order. For example, the phrase match keyword “house cleaners Sydney” will trigger the search term “trusted house cleaners sydney” but won’t show for “house cleaners that are trusted in sydney”. If we still want to show for the latter then we’ll use modified broad match as well.

When would we use Phrase Match?

We use this in all our Single Keyword Adgroup campaigns because it allows us to target search queries that are closely related to our exact match. We use it when we believe that the related term is likely going to have similar intent as our exact match.

Exact Match

Exact match basically allows you to directly select which search queries you want to bid on. If someone searches for “house cleaner sydney” we can bid on this exact search query and nothing else. It’s a great keyword match type to use when we know that certain search terms deliver great results for the client. BUT, we do not recommend only using this match type and none of the others. When you start your campaigns you will not necessarily know which search queries perform the best. That’s why you should use the other match types to see what’s performing well and then double down on those with exact match and phrase match keywords.

When would we use Exact Match?

Exact match is often where we see the highest conversions with our campaigns. Why is this? Because we seek out the highest converting searches and target ads directly at those. Often when looking into an account we’ll find that 20% of keywords result in 80% of the conversions. The key for maximising profits here is to find these keywords and make them as efficient and effective as possible. Using exact match keywords we can directly target them and create super targeted ads. This increases our click through rates and increases our quality scores. This results in cheaper Cost Per Clicks (because higher quality scores are rewarded with a cpc discount) and a higher quantity of high quality clicks. This results in a lower cost per conversion which makes us all very happy at Key PPC. Especially the client when we show them how much more money they are making.

Putting it all together

All this tech talk is good fun but how can you actually apply this stuff to your campaigns for the best results? We usually skip using broad match keywords and do the keyword research ourselves. We use the google keyword tool and Semrush to get a good idea of what people are searching for. We then build our Adgroups each centered around a single keyword but with 3 different match types:

  • modified broad match
  • phrase match
  • exact match

This lets us keep our campaigns nice and targeted while still capturing varied searches that are still related to the original keyword we are targeting. This is a nice balance between converting with effective campaigns while at the same time collecting relevant data in order to expand our adgroups for more targeting success.
If you want to see this build-out in action, Sam made a quick video here for one of our other blog posts showing the build-out from scratch.

Video: Adwords Account Creation Walkthrough – for a Cleaning Company.

You can read the full blog post here where he goes through, step-by-step, creating an Adwords account for a local services business.