Home Blog How to Know Which PPC Match Type is Right for You


How to Know Which PPC Match Type is Right for You

Posted by drew on March 17, 2015, 6 p.m.

Plenty has been written about the different keyword match types in Google Adwords. In fact, we’ve even written an article about it here at Fusionbox. But something we didn’t cover previously was how to know which match types to use. In reality, there isn’t a single best practice that will work across all PPC clients in every situation.

First, let’s cover the basics of keyword match types, especially since some things have changed since our last post. The first, and most generalized, keyword match type is broad match keyword. Google says of broad match keywords, “When you use broad match, your ads automatically run on relevant variations of your keywords, even if these terms aren't in your keyword lists. This helps you attract more visitors to your website, spend less time building keyword lists, and focus your spending on keywords that work,” all of which is true in some ways.

Broad match keywords will bring you the largest volume of traffic, but because you never quite know what Google will think is a “relevant variation” of you keyword, you may end up getting a lot of irrelevant impressions or traffic. In some instances, word order in your keywords also matters, so broad match would be a poor choice.

If you want something more specific and targeted, the next step is the modified broad match keyword. By placing a plus sign (“+”) before one of more of the words in your keyword, you signal to Google that, while the other words in the phrase are flexible, the marked words need to be highly relevant. Here, “highly relevant” is supposed to misspellings, abbreviations, singulars and plurals, and stemmings. Synonyms and other related searches, however, are now close enough.

To make things even more targeted, you can use phrase match keywords, which are signified by placing your keywords in quotation marks. Phrase match adds word order as important targeting consideration. Other words can appear in the search query before or after your keyword, but your ads won’t show up if a user inserts a word in the middle of your keyword phrase.

Lastly, the most targeted keyword match type is the exact match keyword, which is notated with brackets surrounding the keyword phrase. Word order is important here, just like phrase match, but an exact match keywords won’t trigger is the user’s search query has any words before or after the keyword phrase.

Recently, Google decided to add close variants to the phrase and exact match types. Previously, whatever you placed in between quotation marks or brackets would have to be replicated exactly in a user’s search query. Now, your phrase and exact match keywords will show up for stemmings, misspellings, etc. Sometimes, this will be useful, but it may also cause you to show up for irrelevant searches. I have seen anecdotal accounts where “close variants” aren’t that close at all actually.

Keyword Match Types.png

Now that we’ve covered what the match types are, how do you go about putting a strategy together to decide which match types are best for your account. Some account owners will just put every keyword in every possible match type in the account, but this is really only a good solution if you plan on adjusting your bids between the different match types.

If this sounds like something you’d like to do, I recommend you set up four different ad groups based on match type. Each ad group should have all the same keywords, but a different match type. This will allow you to quickly adjust the default bids for different match types.

For some companies, their potential audience is very specific. They may be a B2B company targeting other companies of a particular size, with a particular need, and/or in a particular vertical. This would be a situation when broad match keywords likely wouldn’t serve well, because any kind of synonym, misspelling, or stemming could reduce the relevance of the search query to your ads.

In this instance, it would probably be best to focus on exact and phrase match keywords. if you want to further limit your targeting, you can add negative keywords, location targeting, or even an ad schedule (but that’s a topic for another blog post).

If your company offers a variety of related services, you may find that it is easier and faster to use broad match keywords. For example, if you are a local wood craftsman who installs floors, builds wood furniture, etc., it may be cumbersome to build ad groups for each particular service or product you could build. If you can get the same quality and quantity of leads from your Adwords account, and you don’t have to spend as much time defining products and services in keyword phrases, then you should by all means do this.

If the goal of your campaign is just to increase awareness for your brand, then broad match may be a good option for you, so you can increase your impressions and get your brand name in front of as many users as possible.

That being said, there is still a drawback to broad match keywords when it comes to quality score. Quality score is the metric that determines how relevant your keywords are, and it can actually affect how much you pay in the ad auctions, so it is important to make your keywords as relevant as possible.

Broad match keywords are sometimes seen as too vague or generic, so they end up having lower quality scores when compared to phrase or exact match keywords.

Ultimately, there are different reasons to use each other keyword match types, and it is up to your PPC Manager to determine what the best strategy is. For a PPC consultation, contact Fusionbox.