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It’s often quite confusing to know which match type is right for your business. 

Often, I recommend a mix of modified broad, phrase and exact, but this particular strategy doesn’t often work when you have a really tight budget and need to get the most out of it. 

Keep reading for a quick overview of the different match types, when to use them and what the pros and cons are of each. 

Broad Match

aka – the default match type

Pros

  • reaches the widest audience
  • good for keyword discovery

Cons

  • can lead to wasted spend 
  • more negative keywords are needed
  • leads to irrelevant traffic

When to use:

  • You’re looking to expand your customer base and discover new, converting keywords
  • You’re not sure exactly what search terms your target market use to find your product or service
  • You have a larger budget and are wanting to test and experiment

Example

A broad match keyword of ‘women’s hats’ can result in ads being shown when someone searches for ‘ladies clothing’. This might be good, if you also sell women’s clothing, but bad if it’s not relevant to your business. 
 

Modified Broad Match

Different from broad match, in that you denote modified broad keywords with the ‘+’ symbol beforehand. 

Your ad will only be shown if search queries contain the modified broad keywords  (or close variations), without specifying any particular order.

PROS

  • still reaches a wide audience
  • also good for keyword discovery
  • additional levels of control 
 CONS
  • can still lead to wasted spend
  • irrelevant search queries
  • lots of negative keywords needed
When to use:
  • You’re wanting a level more control than broad match offers
  • You know the general gist of how customers search for your products/services, but don’t want to get too specific
Example
A modified broad match keyword of ‘+women’s +hats’ can result in ads being shown when someone searches for ‘do women’s hats cause hair loss’. It still contains your modified broad match keywords, but lots of other words in between and at either end.
 

Phrase Match

Phrase match is indicated by wrapping your keywords in quotation marks. 

Your ad will only be shown if search queries contain the keywords  (or close variations), in the exact order of your phrase match keyword. Additional words can be on either end. 

PROS

  • you are able to reduce the number of irrelevant search queries
  • tighter control than broad and modified broad match
  • target your customers using specific phrases
 CONS
  • can miss out on traffic if your customers don’t search using your phrase match keywords
When to use:
  • You are really clear on how customers search for your product or service
  • You want to minimize wasted spend on irrelevant search queries
  • You have a smaller budget and want to get the best return on investment
Example
A phrase match keyword of “women’s hats” can result in ads being shown when someone searches for “buy women’s hats online”, but not for “buy hat for women online”. 
 

Exact Match

Exact match is indicated by wrapping your keywords in “[” and “]”

Your ad will only be shown if search queries contain the keywords in the exact same order as your keyword (or close variations), with no additional search terms at the beginning or end.  ,

PROS

  • You greatly reduce the number of irrelevant search queries and wasted spend
  • You are able to focus on your exact target market using specific keywords
 CONS
  • Your ads will only show when someone uses your exact keyword 
  • You miss out on other, potentially high converting, customers
When to use:
  • You are really clear on how customers search for your product or service
  • You want to minimize wasted spend on irrelevant search queries
  • You have a smaller budget and want to get the best return on investment
Example
An exact match keyword of [women’s hats] will only show ads when someone types in ‘women’s hats’, or closely related variations (e.g. womens hat)
 

Negative Keywords

Negative keywords are used to ‘block’ and prevent your ads being shown for particular search queries. 

Negative keywords also use match types, so you can use broad, modified broad, phrase or exact when adding these. 

PROS

  • You can use negative keywords to block irrelevant search queries, and therefore minimise wasted spend
  • Use negative keywords allows you use your ad budget on more relevant customers
When to use:
  • Everyone should really be using negative keywords in their campaigns
  • Use negatives when you have identified irrelevant on unprofitable search terms
Example
If you have a negative keyword of “cheap” and a keyword of “women’s hats” your ad will not be shown to a user who types in the search query “buy cheap women’s hats online” 
 
What match type?
I recommend sticking to phrase and exact match negative keywords. 
 
 
Kaity Griffin