Google AdWords Keyword Match Types and Negatives


What are keywords in PPC?

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 are want to pay each time a customer clicks on your ad
  • Assigning a match type to each keyword

Keyword 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

Examples of Phrase Match Keywords

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

Examples of Exact Match Keywords

Negative Match
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
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