Keywords are crucial to PPC advertising success as they drive the entire PPC machine. Without keywords, your ads will not be triggered and will not appear in front of your desired audience. The purpose of keywords is that they connect a searcher’s search term to a relevant ad that you created in your AdWords account. We need to understand the keyword and the intention behind it so that we can create ads as relevant to the searcher as possible. For example, imagine you want a cheeseburger. You head to a restaurant, look at the menu and notice the following items: “Food” and “meat in between bread”. Although this restaurant may serve the best burger in town, you may leave without ordering anything. They would lose your business merely because the keywords that they used in their PPC weren’t the same words that you were looking for.

In order to make your ads appear when someone searches for your product or service, you need to choose relevant and high-quality keywords using tools such as Google Keyword Planner. The best way to do that is to match the keywords that you choose to the words or phrases that people are actively searching for, or relate them to the content of your website.
Once you have selected the keywords, there are two points deemed necessary:

  • Choosing how much you want to pay each time a customer clicks on your ad
  • Assigning a match type to each keyword


Keyword Match Types 

As we mentioned before, keywords need to be relevant and high quality in order to reach the potential customers you want, when you want. In order to make the keywords relevant to the search intent, you need to assign a match type to each keyword. Keyword match types help control which searches trigger your ads. In other words, they determine how broad or narrow you want a searcher’s search query to match the keyword in your AdWords account.

There are 5 types of keyword match types:

  • Broad match
  • Broad match modifier
  • Phrase match
  • Exact match
  • Negative match

In general, the broader the keyword, the more traffic you are likely to receive. Conversely, the narrower the keyword, the more relevant that keyword will be to the user’s search query. Understanding the difference between each match type can improve your ROI. We suggest that you start with broad match so that you maximise your potential to show your ads on relevant searches.


Broad Match

The default match type for all keywords is broad match. Ads may show on searches with similar phrases and close variations of the keyword. Close variations include: misspelling, singular and plural forms, synonyms, abbreviations, acronyms and stemming, related searches and other relevant variations. E.g. if you use broad match on “black shoes”, your ad could appear for several search queries, such as “shoes that are black”, “black shoes on sale”, “buy black shoes” and further variations.

Although we suggest starting with broad match, you need to closely monitor your search query report to make sure that you are not paying for irrelevant traffic that doesn’t convert. You can then identify terms which should be changed to exact or phrase match.


Broad Match Modifier

Broad match modifier tends to add more specificity to your broad match keywords consequently increasing the relevancy of your keywords, but in turn, potentially decreasing your traffic. Ads may show on searches for close variants including misspelling, singular and plural forms, abbreviations and acronyms and stemming. Ads are not shown for Synonyms.

The correct syntax for writing board match keywords is by adding a plus symbol ( + ) in front of one or more words in your board match keywords. E.g.

  • Symbol: +keyword
  • Example keyword: +children’s +hats
  • Example search: hats for children
  • Incorrect: + suede + shoesNote: the following syntaxes are wrong:
  • Incorrect: +suede+shoes


Phrase Match 

Phrase match is more targeted than broad match. Phrase match ads may show on searches for the exact keywords, even if they include additional words before and after.  They will also show for close variants of your phrase match keywords, with additional words before and after. If there is an additional word in the middle of your phrase match keyword, your ad will not show. Therefore, word order is important. The correct syntax for writing phrase match keywords is by adding quotes (“ ”) around the phrase. E.g.

  • Symbol: “keyword”
  • Example keyword: “women’s hats”
  • Example search: buy women’s hats


Exact Match

Out of all the keyword match types, exact match gives you the greatest amount of control over who can see your ad. Ads will also show for close variants of your exact keyword phrase including misspellings, singular and plural forms, acronyms, stemmings, abbreviations and accents. Exact match ads will show on searches for your exact keyword phrase without any additional words, before after or in the middle. If you use exact match, you could see fewer impressions but a higher clickthrough rate (CTR). The correct syntax for writing exact match keywords is by adding square brackets ( [ ] ) around the phrase. E.g.


  • Symbol: [keyword]
  • Example keyword: [women’s hats]
  • Example search: women’s hats


Negative Keyword Match Types

Within the world of PPC and Search Advertising, negative keywords allow for users to better-refine their bidding strategies, allowing for bids to occur only on intended and relevant searches as to minimise spend, wastage, and maximise reach to potential customers.


Negative keywords prevent your ads from showing to people searching for those terms or visiting sites that contain those terms. If you use negative keywords, you can reach more targeted customers, reduce your costs and increase your ROI. The correct syntax for writing negative keywords is by adding a minus ( – ) before the phrase. E.g.


  • Symbol: -keyword
  • Example keyword:-women
  • Example search: baseball hats


Negative Broad-Match Keywords

A negative broad-matching keyword can be defined as a keyword that allows for the exclusion of your ads from searches in which every word, in any order, of your keyword is presented. If a keyword is negative broad, then your ad will not be shown to users any time that the entire term is used within a search query. For example, if ‘running shoes’ is your negative search term, your ad will not appear to users searching for phrases such as ‘running shoes sale’ and ‘shoes for running’. When used correctly, this match-type has the capability to filter out a wide range of variations, meaning ads will only be shown to those most likely to be interested in the products and services being offered by your business. However, ads will not be prevented from being shown for variations and synonyms of the word. This means that varying search terms of high similarity will need to be added in as separate keywords as to avoid showing ads to an audience interest in the purchase of something not catered to by your company.

It is also important to note that negative broad-match keywords do not work to restrict ads from showing if users carry out a search that contains words included in, but not all of, your negative keyword. If a search for the term ‘blue shoes’ is carried out, ads will still appear due to ‘shoe’ not being considered a negative keyword when presented alone.


Negative Phrase-Match Keywords

A negative phrase-match keyword allows for the exclusion of your ad under search queries that include the exact keyword phrasing. While searches are able to include additional words, ads will only be prevented from showing for as long as the keyword is included within its original ordering. Negative phrase-match types work similarly to traditional search terms in the sense that the exact phrase will be excluded. A negative keyword can be identified as a phrase-match type when quotation marks are used to surround the phrase. It is important to note that searches carried out for only some of the terms in your phrase will still show your ads to users. For instance, if your negative search term is “wedding caterer” and a search is carried out for a ‘vegetarian caterer’, your ad could still be shown. This also means that, if additional wording is added to the search query, such as ‘wedding party caterer’, your ad could still appear as the phrase specified within your negative keyword has been interrupted.


Negative Exact-Match Keywords

A negative exact-match keyword allows for ads to be excluded from searches for the exact keyword phrase without the addition of any other words to the query. Your ads will still have potential to be shown for searches that include your negative keyword accompanied by other words and phrases. It should be noted that this negative match-type will work to eliminate very little traffic as only searches for the exact terms in the order that they are used will be excluded. As to designate a negative search term as an exact match-type, brackets should be used to surround the keyword. If a user includes any other terms within their search, your ads will still be shown within the search results. For example, if your negative exact-match keyword is [yellow shirt] and a search is completed for ‘yellow shirt deals’, your ad is still likely to appear due to the keyword not matching to the search exactly.


To conclude, the addition of keywords and negative keywords into your search engine marketing campaigns can provide an excellent way to target your ads to a more specific and relevant audience, eliminating irrelevant traffic from your ads to effect. Get in touch with our PPC experts to discover what we can do to help you grow your business.