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AdWords Keyword Match Types

AdWords offers several keyword matching types.  These keyword matching options allow you greater control over what search queries result in your ads appearing.  The article explains keyword match types and what you as an advertiser can do to get the most out of your keywords, control your costs and maintain your AdWords account quality.


The Types of Keyword Matching Options are:

  1. broad – allows other keywords to be included or relevant keywords (as deemed by Google) to be substituted.  Disneyland vacation = Disneyland park tickets
  2. +broad +match +modified feature lets you create keywords that have greater reach than phrase match, and more control than broad match. You create broad match modified by adding a + symbol directly in front of one or more words. Each word proceeded by a + must appear in the user's search exactly or as a close variant. Close variants will include misspellings, singular and plural forms of a word, abbreviations and acronyms, and stemmings like roof and roofing. Synonyms like "" and "fast") and related searches (like "flowers" and "tulips") are not considered close variants.
  3. phrase” – allows the keyword to be shown in the phrase order i.e. “red shoes” with terms before or after the phrase.  ”red shoes” can = “girls ‘red shoes’ size 3″
  4. 3.  [exact] – allows your ads to show only on the exact keyword specified.  [banana nut bread recipe] = [banana nut bread recipe]
  5. negative – will restrict your ads from appearing for the –negative keyword. shoes” with a negative –kids prevents the ads from appearing for “kids red shoes”.  Negative Keywords can be included in Broad, Phrase and Exact Match Types.

As explained above, Broad Match type keywords are extremely flexible.  ”Phrase Match” will tighten down the keywords further by keeping your phrase in-tact and [Exact Match] is the most restrictive keyword match type because it will only allow your ads to be served if the search query exactly matches the search query.  While exact match may sound ideal, many advertisers find it difficult to work specifically with exact match keywords because it is difficult to think of each and every search query that their potential customers will use.  The possibility of missing out of potential traffic makes phrase and broad match keywords valuable. While broad and phrase match both allow the potential to appear for search queries that are not relevant to your products or service there is a way to combat that with the use of Negative Keywords.


How do I know if my ads are appearing on irrelevant search queries?

Run and analyze the Search Query Report from your Reports Center. This report will provide you with the search queries that resulted in your ads being clicked.  You can use this report to identify keywords that are irrelevant as well as use it to find new keywords to add to your account.


Here is an example:

Example Keyword: “dance shoes”

Search Query Report identifies clicks for: ballroom dancing shoes


So, you have identified through your Search Query Report that you are appearing under the search query ‘ballroom dancing shoes’ but you do not sell ‘ballroom dancing’ shoes.  In this case adding a negative keyword -ballroom will prevent your ads from appearing when the word ‘ballroom’ is included


I’ve identified irrelevant search queries, now what do I do to prevent my ads from appearing next time?

Add negative keywords or change your match option to a more restrictive match type.  Changing your match type is not always an option because it can often lower your traffic too much.  This is where negative keyword are very helpful.  Negative keywords will prevent your ads from appearing for irrelevant searches.  You can add negative keywords in various match types and also to specific adgroups, campaigns or shared libraries which is something I suggest advertisers consider if they manage large numbers of negative keywords.



Contributed by:  +Kim Clinkunbroomer

about Kim Clinkunbroomer

Owner, Clink Digital Marketing, Google Partner, AdWords Top Contributor 2006 to present. Our goal is to provide our Clients with the highest level of service to help reach their goals and grow their businesses. Contact: 847-361-3057