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30 AdWords Tips in 30 Days - Day #20 - Test all Match Types

One of the many benefits of AdWords is the different Keyword Match Type options that it gives advertisers.  Reach can be increased and often efficiencies achieved with testing all Match Types.


Tip #20 - Test Activating all Match Types


By default, Keywords are created as Broad Match but there are three other Match Types that advertisers can run on - Broad Match Modifier, Phrase, and Exact.  Each of the Match Types has their benefits and limits, but advertisers should at least test running on all four Match Types.


First, let's understand the different Match Types:


  • Broad Match - Serves Impressions when searchers search for your Keywords, close variations, misspellings, and synonyms.


  • Broad Match Modifier - Similar to Broad Match, but serves Impressions when searchers search for your Keywords, but in any order.


  • Phrase Match - Phrase Match will serve an Impression if searchers type in your Keywords in the order you designate - they can add words at the beginning and/or end of your Keywords, but your Keywords have to be searched on in the order you designate.


  • Exact Match - The most restrictive Match Type - only if searchers type in the Keyword exactly as you entered it will serve and Impression.


Typically Broad Match will serve the most Impressions and Exact Match the least, but Keyword relevance is most often highest on Exact Match.  


Why Test all Match Types?


AdWords Quality Scores will vary by Match Type and often advertisers will see better performance, although not as many Impressions, for the more restrictive Match Types.  Often Exact and Phrase Match will see lower actual CPCs and better performance from a Conversion perspective.


Performance will vary by advertiser, but testing all Match Types is a sound, foundational tactic to increase Reach and drive efficiencies.


Bonus Tip #1 - Segment Match Types by Ad Group


I like to organize my Account by segmenting Keywords by Match Types - having Ad Groups for Exact Match Keywords, separate Ad Groups for Phrase Match and so on.  Your Ad Groups should still be granular and thematic, but segmenting by Match Type will help your Account organization.  


Besides Account organization, you'll also see different performance by Match Type. Segmenting by Ad Group will allow you an easy way to compare performance by Match Types, and also bid differently by Match Type.  Performance varies, but often advertisers bid the highest for Exact Match Keywords, and the lowest for Broad Match Keywords.


Bonus Tip #2 - Use Negative Keywords


Anytime you're using Broad, Broad Match Modifier, and/or Phrase Match, you need to use Negative Keywords to restrict your Ads from serving from words that are not relevant to you and your business.  The Search Terms Report can help you find potential Keywords to add as Negatives.


Bonus Tip #3 - Add Mirror Negatives


If you do add multiple Match Types, and if you do segment Ad Groups by Match Type, one thing I recommend is adding Mirror Negative Keywords at the Ad Group level.  That is - for your Broad Match Ad Group, you'd add the Keywords as Negative Phrase and Negative Exact Match.  For the Phrase Match Ad Group, you'd add the Keywords as Negative Exact Match.


What this does is it automatically forces Google to serve your more restrictive Match Type whenever your Keywords are searched on exactly.  Google does try to show the more restrictive Match Type, but adding Mirror Negatives will always ensure that your multiple Match Type Keywords do not compete with each other, and that your most restrictive Keyword always shows when it is eligible.

about Brian Valentini

Chicago-based husband and father who likes sports, traveling, and laughing. Excited about the field of Digital Marketing, especially Paid Search. Work-life = Vice President/Director of Search Marketing at DigitasLBi, a global digital marketing and technology agency.

April 2014



"my keyword"

[my keyword]

my keyword


compete with each other? If yes, how to deal with such situation

April 2014


Great question - technically they can all be eligible to appear, but they shouldn't drive up your CPCs.  Google has a hierarchy of how they match (link below), but Google tries to match "...the keyword with the more restrictivekeyword match type."


Based on your great question I added a section to the post above.

Alexey C Rising Star
May 2014

Hey Brian, 


Thanks for your tips. I am reading them everyday becoming better and better in adwords management. You did a great job. 

I am not sure that I got your point about mirrow negatives. 
Let's say I have such negatives in my campaign:



[choose socks] 
So I don't want anyone to buy smth on mywebsite and I don't have socks. 

Should I add such mirrow negatives as keywords: - buy, - socks, -[choose socks]?  


May 2014

Hi Alexey,

Thank you for the feedback!


If you don't sell socks and don't want to ever match in for searches that contain the words socks, you set up your Negatives correctly.


Mirror Negatives are more for when you set up separate Ad Groups for Phrase, Broad, and Exact Match and you want to make sure to force the system to serve Impressions to the most restrictive Match Type.


For example, when a searcher searches for a Keyword that  you have on Exact Match, you want to make sure that the Ad that is served is from your Exact Match Ad Group.  That is when you'd use Mirror Negatives.


Hope that helps and feel free to reach out with more questions!

Alexey C Rising Star
May 2014

Ahhhh. Now I got it! Amazing tip. Thank you.

Matt - W
March 2015

Glad you did this, thank you

Andréanne L
May 2015

Hi Brian, thanks for your advice. I'm sort of new to adwords management and I would like to understand the mirror negatives better.  


Let's say I have 4 ad groups using the same keywords

ad group 1:  tennis shoes

ad group 2: +tennis +shoes

ad group 3: "tennis shoes"

ad group 4: [tennis shoes]


How would this negative mirroring technique work?  




May 2017

Great article



June 2017

We have 100 variations of our key-phrase. Should we create a saparate group for each phrase?

For example:

rent a car

rent an exotic car

rent an economy car