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Keyword Match Types

Which Keyword Match Types Should I Use in Google Ads (AdWords)?

The keyword match types you use are important to the success of your campaigns. Whether you’re launching new AdWords campaigns or are looking to update or change match types, you should understand the implications of the change.


About 15% of searches each day are completely new to Google, so it’s important to understand how Match types work.


Match types are divided into two main types: semantic and syntactic. Semantic refers to the meaning of words and is related to broad match type keywords and the meaning of those searches. So it’s common to appear for synonyms unlike the other three match types.


Syntactic is about the arrangement of words regardless of their meaning and is related to phrase, exact and modified broad match types. These type of keywords only appear for close variants, plurals, singulars, acronyms and stemmings but not for synonyms.


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I’ll illustrate how each match type works with the keyword “Google AdWords Expert”:


Broad Match 
Broad match type is broad in its reach. It drives a wide range of searches for your ads and keywords which include plurals, singulars, synonyms, acronyms, stemmings, misspellings and more.


It’s often not best to start with broad match type. And that’s because you’re unlikely to have built an extensive negative keyword list at launch to block irrelevant searches.


Instead, look to add broad match type keywords when you want to increase click volume and target longer tail keywords.


The broad match keyword for Google AdWords Expert will trigger such searches:

Google AdWords Expert (Exact)
Expert in Adwords (in any order and other words included)
AdWords Specialist (Synonym)
Add words in Google (not relevant search term)


So you see how some may not be relevant and how some are synonyms. It’s important to know this and factor it in as you do keyword research.


Modified Broad Match
Modified Broad match type is the latest match type released by Google. This matches to searches that have been highlighted as being important. So you highlight words as being important by placing a + sign before each important word.


This is an example +Google +AdWords +Expert


This means that all three words should be in any search phrase that you want your ads to appear for. The order of those words isn’t important – only that they should be in the search phrase to trigger the Ad.


So the example above means your ads will appear for such searches:

Google AdWords Expert
Expert Google AdWords
Google Adwords Expert in Milton Keynes


Phrase Match
Phrase match keywords are enclosed in quotation marks like so “Google AdWords Expert”. These target searches that have words in that same order and can have words before or after that keyword. So the keywords above will match with searches like:


Google AdWords Expert
Hire Google AdWords Expert
Google AdWords Expert in Milton Keynes


Phrase match keywords give you more control over the searches your ads appear for than modified broad match. So, you’re often sure what you’ll see in the search terms report. In most cases, you’ll not see big surprises but it’s still important to have relevant negative keywords in place.


Exact Match
Exact match keywords are enclosed in brackets like so [Google AdWords Expert]. So they only match to exact matches including close variants including plurals/singulars, misspellings and similar. The searches should also be in the exact same order, so the keyword Google AdWords Expert will match to:



Google AdWords Expert (Exact)
Google AdWords Experts (plural)
Google AdWords Espert (misspelling)


The exact match keyword [Google AdWords Expert] will not match for the following:


Google AdWords Specialist
AdWords Expert


So, pick your keyword match types wisely and focus on your goals and how they’ll help you achieve them.

I'm a Certified Google Ads Expert and Marketing Author and in this blog I share my latest tips and secrets on how to promote your business successfully on the web and increase customer loyalty, retention and advocacy on Google Ads.

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