Understanding Keyword Matching Options in Google AdWords

adwordsGoogle AdWords, one of the top pay-per-click programs, offers advertising opportunities by showing ads above and adjacent to search results. When Google sees over 2.5 billion searches per day¹, there needs to be powerful options to accommodate the wide range of possible searches. Google provides keyword matching options for advertisers to maintain control over the range their keywords can cover.

Broad Match
Example; website design

Google’s default keyword type is broad match, noted by the exclusion of any special characters surrounding the keyword. Broad match allows ads to display on searches of the keyword, similar phrases, and relevant variations. For example, searches for “website design”, “website designs”, “website design services”, and “local web design” will all trigger the broad match website design keyword. As the name and example indicates, broad match allows the widest range of keywords. Expect more clicks on broad match keywords, including a few from unanticipated searches.

Phrase Match
Example: “website design”

Phrase match is more targeted than broad match and will display ads when the search includes the phrase, but only in the correct order. Phrase match keywords are enclosed in quotations. Searches for “local website design” and “website design Jacksonville” will trigger the phrase match website design keyword. On the other hand, a search for “website graphics and design” will not trigger the keyword. Phrase match is useful when broad match keywords are being triggered by unexpected or unwanted searches. Phrase match has a tighter range than broad match, but is more flexible than exact match.

Exact Match
Example: [website design]

Google’s exact match offers simple instructions- only show ads if the search is the same as the keyword. Exact match keywords are enclosed in brackets. For example, a search for “website design services” or “ecommerce website design” will not trigger the keyword. Only a search for “website design” will trigger the exact match website design keyword. Due to strict instructions, exact match will yield fewer clicks but can be perfect for precise targets.

Negative Match
Example: -courses

Negative match is used to prevent ads from displaying based on a search. In other words, if a negative match keyword is included in a search that normally would show ads, the ads are instructed not to show. As an example, we do not offer website design courses, but we have website design as a broad match keyword. We wouldn’t want a search for “website design course” to show our ad, so we would include the negative match course keyword. Negative match keywords become significant as an AdWords account evolves and it becomes easier to identify keywords that should not display ads.

Due to the wide range of possible searches, Google gives advertisers sufficient control over when ads should appear. Keyword matching options are designed to allow a wide range, a focused range, and an exact range of searches, in addition to denying unwanted searches. Advertisers use Google’s Search Query Performance Report to identify what searches are triggering keywords and implement keyword matching to suit the situation.

¹ Global Search Market Draws More than 100 Billion Searches per Month