Keyword Match Types: What They Are and Why Use Them for PPC

Written by Devin Sizemore

December 5, 2018

Don’t be misled.

Keyword research may appear simple and straightforward, but in reality, it has a level of complexity to it that you need to do right — that is, if you want to get positive results out of your marketing campaigns.

In this guide, we are going to cover a crucial aspect of keyword research that not many people talk about — the different keyword match types, what they mean to Google, and how they can be used in PPC.

Let’s hop right in.

Digging Into Keyword Match Types

Just like long tail and short tail keywords, different keyword match types can make or break your marketing campaign. The main difference is that AdWords match types are significantly more important in PPC as they help marketers fine-tune their targeting.

Put simply, keyword match types allow marketers to define how similar search queries should be in order to trigger their ads. They pertain to multiple levels of similarity with the target keyword you’ve set in your AdWords campaign.

To help you understand this, let’s jump straight to the types of keyword match types and how they differ.

Broad Match

First and foremost, broad match keywords enable you to reach the most people out of all the keyword match types.

As the name suggests, broad match keywords include relevant variations of your target keyword, such as synonyms, misspellings, and other relevant terms.

For example, some broad matches of the keyword “bluetooth speakers” could be “wireless speaker,” “portable speaker,” and “bluetooth speakerphone.”

Google AdWords traditionally target broad match keywords in your campaigns by default. In fact, Google AdWords Keyword Planner only pull in broad match keywords unless you include modifiers to specify otherwise.

seed keywordTo use broad match keywords on your AdWords campaign, you simply need to enter them as is as you configure your target ad group.

broad match keywordsAcross most niches, broad match keywords are usually capable of pulling in traffic by the thousands. After all, you are also targeting users who may not know what a certain product type is called — let alone spell it correctly.

There is, however, a big catch when using broad match keywords in your ad campaign. While it may seem like a good idea to push your ads to as many people as possible, targeting broad match keywords could mean you’re spending advertising dollars on traffic who may not be interested in your products.

Imagine allocating a budget for “custom laptop case” only to have your ads shown to users who type “custom laptop decals” in search engines. While both refer to two entirely different products, the Keyword Planner tool considers them as broad matches.

The good news is, there’s a minor fix that can make broad match keywords work in attracting quality leads.

Suppose you do want to use broad matches in your campaign for “custom laptop case.” However, since you don’t want AdWords to replace the words “laptop” and “case,” you need to add a broad match modifier or the plus (+) symbol before each of those terms.

broad match modifierWith the broad match modifier, AdWords will only present your ads whenever users type in queries that contain these exact terms. The order of these terms within the query doesn’t matter — as long as they’re included, there’s a chance users will be presented your ad.

In SEO, broad matches are also particularly useful when generating long-tail keyword ideas since they let you cover more ground in your long tail keyword research. But we’ll get to that later.

For now, let’s move on to the next important keyword match type.

Exact Match

The only thing you need to know about the exact match vs. broad match keyword types it that they’re polar opposites.

While broad matches are capable of garnering huge streams of traffic, exact match keywords usually aren’t as potent, especially if you want to use the exact match of long tail keywords.

On the flip side, this means marketers have complete control over how their AdWords budget will be utilized.

If you specified the exact match of the keyword “best bluetooth speaker” in your AdWords campaign, your ads will only appear if the user types in the exact same phrase — nothing more, nothing less.

More importantly, this will enable you to specifically target buyer keywords, which are simply long tail queries fueled by purchase intent. These normally contain commercial or action-based terms that align with the action you want your target audience to take, such as “buy,” “for hire,” or “for sale.”

Here’s an example of a long tail keyword with purchase intent.

bluetooth speakersNotice that the exact match of the keyword only has 10-100 average monthly searches, yet its competitiveness rating is specified as “High.” This is because advertisers choose to target this keyword since it signals purchase intent.

To use exact match keywords on your AdWords campaign, all you need to do is wrap your keywords in exact match modifiers or brackets ([ ]) — as explained by the footnote at the bottom of the ad group creation window.

broad match keywordsOf course, you always have the option to target multiple exact match keywords in your ad group to compensate for the significant reduction in potential traffic. That’s what makes them desirable for PPC campaigns.

Just remember to enter only one keyword per line when creating your ad group.

one keyword per lineThe only downside to using exact match keywords is the degree of difficulty involved with their use.

Remember, exact match keywords for PPC will only yield results if you’ve done your homework and handpicked the right target keywords yourself. That said, stick around until the end of this post for quick tips on how to make the most out of exact match, long tail keywords.

Phrase Match

The next and last keyword match type you need to know about would be phrase matches.

In a nutshell, phrase match keywords are the middle ground between exact match and broad match keywords. They are longer variations of a keyword that contains the exact string of text in the original query — in the exact order.

For example, with the keyword “bluetooth speakers,” some phrase match AdWords keywords are “cheap bluetooth speakers,” “bluetooth speakers online,” “buy bluetooth speakers,” and “good bluetooth speakers.”

You can say that phrase match keywords can be used for the same purpose as broad match keywords with modifiers. They both allow you to target users who enter specific terms in search engines.

The only difference is that, in a broad match type, the keywords you want to use may appear in any order.

Although this gives broad match keywords a slight edge in terms of flexibility, phrase match keywords will give you more control on which keywords will your advertising dollars go to.

To use phrase match keywords in your AdWords campaign, you only need to encapsulate them in quotation marks (“ ”), which are the designated phrase match modifiers.

match keywordFor broad match vs. phrase match, the latter is also definitely more capable of targeting users with purchase intent. And against exact match keywords, phrase match keywords can attract a bigger crowd.

Refining Your Keyword Strategy with Negative Keywords

After reading about the different types of keyword matches, you’re probably thinking that using a long tail keyword tool and going for exact match keywords all the way is the best approach.

If you’re equipped with the best long tail keyword software in the market, then sure, you should be able to eliminate most of the guesswork and pool your PPC funds into profitable keywords. Alternatively, you can start with a handful of broad match keywords, let them run for a while, and monitor the results.

After some time, you should be able to identify times when your ads appear on irrelevant search terms. That’s when you can refine your AdWords keyword strategy by using negative keywords to block those irrelevant terms from being targeted in the future.

To add negative keywords, head to the “Keywords” section of the AdWords dashboard.

keywordsUnder the “Negative Keywords” tab, click on the add negative keywords button. This will bring up the “Add negative keywords” page where you can enter all the irrelevant terms that you want to remove from your AdWords campaign.

negative keywordsBefore you save your negative keywords, be sure to specify whether you want to apply your negative keywords to a campaign or a specific ad group. For this, use the drop-down menu under “Add to” and then click on “Select campaign” or “Select ad group” — depending on your choice.

select a campaignThis will present you with a list of all campaigns and ad groups in your AdWords account. Click on the campaign or ad group you want to refine to proceed.

campaignFinally, scroll down to the bottom of the page and click “Save” to apply your negative keywords to the selected campaign or ad group.

It may take some time before you can get enough data to identify terms you need to mark as negative keywords. In the meantime, you can do the exact opposite and use the AdWords “Search Terms” report to pinpoint the keywords that actually lead users to your ads.

Doing so will allow you to further fine-tune your keyword targeting strategy and prioritize search terms that are proven to get the results you want.

Here’s another tip: When creating new ad groups, you can also use the “Get keyword ideas” panel to generate keyword suggestions for your campaign. Your options are either to enter the website of a competitor or provide details of the product or service you’re trying to promote.

keyword ideasEventually, you should be able to come up with well-targeted keywords using the processes outlined above.

But don’t get too excited — we haven’t even talked about Long Tail Pro yet, which will help you polish your keyword targeting strategy to perfection.

What you need to do is take your prospective keyword targets and plug them into the Long Tail Pro research tool. This will allow you to understand your target keywords a lot more.

Keep in mind that, aside from expanding base keywords to unearth ideas for exact match keyword types, you can also use the “Manual Keyword Entry” feature to view additional metrics. This includes the keyword’s “Rank Value,” “Average Keyword Competitiveness,” and a more accurate measurement of its monthly search volume.

volumeDynamically Integrating Keywords Into Your Ad Copy

Great — you now know how to choose the right keyword match types and profitable keyword ideas for your AdWords campaigns.

There’s just one last thing you need to know to make the most out of your keywords: dynamic keyword insertion.

When configuring AdWords campaigns, you get to specify the details of your ad as well as modify its copy. This includes your ad’s headline, description, display path, and so on.

campaign settingsBut rather than writing the final version for each of your ad copy elements, you can use dynamic keyword insertion to make your ad appear differently based on the search terms used.

For example, let’s say you have an ad group for the keywords “wireless speaker,” “bluetooth speaker,” and “portable speaker.” Rather than writing “Buy a Bluetooth Speaker” as your headline, you can write “Buy a {Keyword:}” instead so that the keyword in your headline would match the query made by the user.

Typing the open brace ({) symbol will trigger a popup that will confirm if you intend to use dynamic keyword insertion. Simply click on the “Keyword Insertion” option to complete the step.

dynamic keywordIt’s also advisable to use a default keyword in certain cases when AdWords can’t find a suitable keyword to display. This can be done by adding the keyword you want to set as default right after the colon or on the “Default text” field.

default keywordFinally, you can also use dynamic keyword insertion into your ad’s description should you deem fit. This won’t directly increase the chances of your ad to be triggered for your target keywords, but it’ll definitely stimulate more click-throughs from users who are looking for a very specific type of product or service.


Remember, digital marketing — in any shape or size — is a competition.

You can’t afford to be complacent and take it easy unless you deliberately want competitors to leave you behind.

By understanding keyword match types, how to find them, and where to put them, you could say that you’re three steps ahead of your competitors. Make sure you capitalize this opportunity by acting now.

You can click here for a 7-day Long Tail Pro discount on help with your keyword match types. Cheers!

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1 Comment

  1. Shubham Sinha

    Keyword is one of the most important part of an on-page SEO. Keyword is the only thing from which you get identified by other users. Keyword helps in your Blog SEO. Placing right keyword at right place is very important for your SEO.


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