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Same (key)words with different match types

I have been asked many times by clients, students and colleagues:

  • what kind of match type one should use for a keyword
  • what are the benefits and disadvantages of different keyword match types
  • if it is possible, and benifical, to use multiple match types for the same keyword

This article aims at shedding some light on those questions.

Anyone who hasn´t very much experience of AdWords, or have thoughts about the different ways of structuring an account, especially on keyword-level, will hopefully find it insightful.

 If you have very little time to read, jump to the advantage/disadvantages at the end.


Words, Keywords, Match Types
The use of match types is a question with many dimensions: reach, targeting, managing and control; and what match type one uses for a keyword could have as great impact on your profitability as what keyword you actually use.

Actually, the same word(s) or even sequence of words is not even to be considered the exact same keyword if they use different match types. Technically and analytically "red shoes" and [red shoes] are 2 different keywords. Their reach and targeting may also vary a lot.


The pro´s and con´s of different match types is a complex question that I won´t delve deeply into here, but instead just focus on one aspect of the use of keywords and match types. namely the use of multiple match types for the same keyword.


Building Campaigns

When I build new campaigns or even new accounts with many campaigns and ad groups, and perhaps thousands of keywords, I almost always use the same keywords with multiple match types. That is to say, if I had a client who sold red shoes, I´d put all of those keywords in the account:

+red +shoes

"red shoes"

[red shoes]

(presuming the reach were appropriate of course)

As you can see, I rarely use broad match keywords (only modified) and the only reason I wouldn´t put +red +shoes in it would be if I thought it would be too broad. But I always (well, almost always-..) use the same word(s) with a more narrow kind of match type if possible (which it always is unless I only use exact match, which is seldom).


Of course there are exceptions to this rule. If I have enough data of conversions, clicks, costs, and impressions already, I might draw the conlusion that a broader match type (like phrase or modified broad) simply is too broad for a specific keyword and not use it. But if I think that it is not, or at least that I don´t know if it is (because data is too thin), I´ll use them all. 



Benefits and Reasons

Why do it like this? Why not let it suffice with one match type, the broadest, for those keywords if they only differ in broadness and reach? Why use "red shoes" if +red +shoes catches all search queries that "red shoes" catches anyway.

There are 2 main reasons. With more keywords I get:

  • more possibilities in terms of bidding 
  • more data "at the surface", i.e. I don´t have to to run so many search term reports to find out what queries actually triggered my ads.


Those are BIG advantages for me. They give way for the art of bidding at a more detailed level. Instead of being able to change the bid for only +red +shoes (and all the varieties of search queries that applies to), I can choose to put a different to for "red shoes" and [red shoes]. I and I might very well do that (usually increasing bids with keyword narrowness).


You might wonder: does it not take a lot of time to add so many keywords? Is that really the best use for your resources. Answer: No, with tools like AdWords Editor and Found Concetanation Tool it actually takes almost no more time. And it saves me a lot when it comes to analysing and adding, removing and setting bids for keywords.



So, aren´t there any dis-advantages with using the keyword with multiple match types?
Yes, depending on how you like to build your campaigns and what tools you use to analyze your results, there could be disadvantages as well. 
For example, you might draw the conclusion that all searches for red shoes have been catched by the exact match [red shoes] just because that is a better match. But that isn´t necessarily true. If +red +shoes has a higher AdRank, it could be that keyword that is choosen for the auction from your account, and the figure for impressions for [red shoes] is not what you think it is (you might think: exactly that many searches for that).


Ad Groups by Match Type

I haven't yet touched upon the question of putting different keywords matchtypes in different ad groups, or even campaigns. So for example, you could have one ad group for [red shoes], one for "red shoes" and one for +red +shoes. Or, if you aren't  so specific for each ad group. you might at least put all your exact matched keywords ([red shoes], [yellow shoes], etc) in one ad group, all your phrase matched in one, and so on.

I do that to some extent, but my first choice is to organise my campaigns and ad groups by theme (shoes, shirts, red shoes, sneakers...) rather than match type. However, it does happen that I single out keywords with certain match types (usually exact matches) and put them in their own ad group, in order to to be able to analyze it more easy.


 Happy matching! : )

about David Stockelberg

Self-taught webmarketer with a PhD in Intellectual history (focus on german philosophy and social sciences 1800-1900) Using AdWords since 7 years. Today working as an SEM-consultant. AdWords and Analytics Qualified.

Hemant Kumar
May 2013

It was really a great help for me. Thanks.

ShroffS Top Contributor
May 2013

Hey David!


Great article! I've had to answer this question too many times too!

Youve done a great job at covering points. 

The next time someone asks me this I'm gonna get them to read this article!


Thanks a ton! Smiley Happy

May 2013

Happy to help : )

Ujjawal M
May 2013

Learned a new thing today. Thanks!

LogicPro T
June 2013

hello, my name is Rishabh, I need help from both of yours. Our company use Ads on google, but we didnot receive enquiry. I would like to know is that any worng with our website? Like website structure or keywords. Our website is wwwdotlogicprotechnosysdotcom. I am really really thank you very much if you can give me some suggestion about out website.

Elja G
June 2013

Interesting to read your article David_Precisera


The article raises a question to me


You use thes keywords :

+red +shoes

"red shoes"

[red shoes]


Does this have infuence on the average CTR between these keywords?


Let's assume that the most relevant searchers matches are triggerd by the exact keywords. So let's assume that [red shoes] get the best CTR. This CTR part will be pulled away from the other keywords (phrase and modifier).

So the phrase and and modifier keywords become less CTR compaired that they are used single. And the same effect from the phrase keyword towards the modifier?


Are you in this way not organizing that you populate the adgroup with more but average less valuable keywords?

June 2013



I guess you are worried about the CTR because it´s a major factor in Quality Score?


Quality score is attributed at the search query level, which is also where your CTR is measured (what you see in the interface is just a rough estimation). This means it doesn´t really matter which keyword (interface level) gets the CTR. 

Jeewan G
June 2013

Sir it interesting article, tell me how many keywords should be there in one ad group.



Jeewan G
June 2013

Also pl tell me what is the benefit of adding + before red & +shoes

Design G
June 2013

Which agency will be best to use google adwords as we have little time to focus on this.