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Keyword Match Types (Types of Keywords In Google Ads)

In this article, you’ll learn about keyword match types.

When bidding on keywords for your Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaigns, there are several Google Ads keyword match types you must understand in order to control how aggressive Google AdWords should match your advertisements to user search queries.

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Below, you’ll discover the four types of keywords in Google Ads, how these match modifiers work to target your PPC ad campaigns more successfully, and find out which ad type is the best to use for Google Ads.

Keyword match types

What Are Keyword Match Types?

A keyword match type is a keyword setting that dictates how closely the keyword needs to match with the user’s search query so the ad can be considered for an auction in Google AdWords. Keyword match types for Google Ads include Broad Match, Phrase Match, Exact Match, and Negative Match.

Google Ads Keyword Match Types

Google Ads Keyword Match Types

Broad Match Type

Broad Match is the most commonly used keyword match types for Google Ads. With Broad Match keywords, your ads will show on searches that relate to your keywords but do not necessarily have those terms or phrases in the search query. No special syntax is needed in Google AdWords to indicate Broad Match keywords.

The Broad Match type is the default type for Google Ads and works best with Smart Bidding, which is a feature that uses machine learning to optimize your ads for conversions in every auction so you don’t have to build complex keyword lists using Phrase Match or Exact Match types.

If your keyword is “running shoes”, then your ad could show up for queries like buying running shoes, running shoes for men, running shoes for women, jogging shoes, running gear, running apparel, etc.

A Broad keyword match helps you reach a wider audience for your products and services, but your visitors are not as targeted because your Google Ads can appear for an assortment of keywords that may or may not directly relate to the items you’re selling. However, to make sure traffic is somewhat related, Google does also take into account each user’s search activities, the content on your landing page, and other keywords in your ad group to make the best assessement for which search queries the Broad Match keyword should appear for in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

Phrase Match Type

Phrase Match is another one of Google Ads keyword match types and it gives you a bit more control than Broad keyword matches. With Phrase Match, your ads will show on searches that include the meaning of your keyword in your Google AdWords campaign as well as queries that contain synonyms and plurals.

The syntax for using Phrase Match in Google Ads is to put quotes around your keyword, such as “iPhone case”. Phrase Match type helps your Google Ads appear for fewer keyword searches than Broad Match, but more searches than Exact Match (explained next). For example, if your keyword was “iPhone case”, then then your ad could show up for search queries like best iPhone cases, red iPhone case, iPhone case with strap, iPhone protection case, silicone iPhone 11 case, etc.

Exact Match Type

Exact Match is the most restrictive types of keywords in Google Ads. With Exact Match, your ads will only show on searches that have the same meaning or intent as the keyword specified in the campaign. This includes search queries that contain synonyms, plurals, or other variations of your keyword.

The syntax for using Exact Match in Google Ads is to put brackets around your keywords, such as [men’s hats]. Exact keyword matches give you the most control over which users can view your ads; however, your ads also show up for fewer search queries compared to Phrase Match and Broad Match.

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If your keyword is “men’s hats”, then your ad could show up for queries like guy’s hats, hats for men, boys hats, men’s head coverings, etc.

Negative Keyword Match Type

Negative Match is a special kind of match types for Google Ads that allows you to exclude your ads from showing up for search queries that contain specific terms. With Negative Match keywords, you can finetune your ad placements so you don’t waste money in your campaign budget by having your ads appear for searches that don’t offer the greatest return on investment.

As Google explains here, “When selecting negative keywords for search campaigns, look for search terms that are similar to your keywords, but might cater to customers searching for a different product. For example, if you’re an optometrist who sells eyeglasses, you may want to add negative keywords for search terms like ‘wine glasses’ and ‘drinking glasses’.”

When choosing Negative keyword matches for Google AdWords search campaigns, you can use Broad Match, Phrase Match, or Exact Match for Negative keywords. The default type is Negative Broad Match. To use a Negative Phrase Match, add quotes around your “keyword” and to use the Negative Exact Match type, add brackets around your [keyword].

  • Negative Broad Match: Ads will not show if the search contains all of the negative keyword terms, even if the terms are in a different order. No special syntax is needed.
  • Negative Phrase Match: Ads will not show if the search contains the exact keyword terms in the same order. Syntax includes quotes around your keyword like “iPhone”.
  • Negative Exact Match: Ads will not show if the search contains the exact keyword terms, in the same order, without extra words. Syntax includes brackets around your keyword like [iPhone].

Types of Keywords In Google Ads Comparison Chart

Type of KeywordMatchingGoogle Ads Searches
Broad MatchLoose MatchingGoogle Ads show on searches that relate to the keyword.
Phrase MatchModerate MatchingGoogle Ads show on searches that include the meaning of the keyword.
Exact MatchTight MatchingGoogle Ads show on searches that are the same meaning as the keyword.
Negative Keyword MatchExclude MatchingGoogle Ads do not show on searches that contain the keyword.

How Many Types of Keyword Matches Are There?

There are 4 different keyword match types (Broad Match, Phrase Match, Exact Match, and Negative Match) that dictate how closely a keyword needs to match with the user’s search query so that the Google Ad can be considered for the auction.

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In addition to those 4 main types of keyword matches, you can also expand the Negative Match modifier to include 2 more match types (Phrase Match and Exact Match) in your Google Ads campaigns. This allows you to narrow down your ad targeting to a smaller audience so that the ads only appear in the paid search results for certain keywords and not others. See this related guide to learn more about keywords in advertising.

Which Match Type Is Best for Google Ads?

The best match type for Google Ads is Broad Match. The Broad Match type is Google AdWords default setting and allows your Google Ads to show in the search results for queries related to the meaning of your keywords but do not necessarily contain the exact terms.

Google recommends Broad Match because it helps you attract more visitors to your website while spending less time building out complex keyword lists that require you to specify other match types, including exact match, phrase match, or a negative match.

The Broad Match type also works best with Smart Bidding on Google AdWords. Smart Bidding is an automatic system that sets a bid for each auction of each query and bids up or down depending on how well the query is likely to perform to attract clicks for your website. Using Broad Match with Smart Bidding allows Google to quickly figure out which search queries work best for your ads so you can get the highest return on investment for your campaigns.

Types of Keywords In Google Ads Comparison Summary

Keyword Match Types Summary

I hope you enjoyed this guide on keyword match types.

As you discovered, there are four Google Ads keyword match types you can use for your Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaigns to control how aggressive Google AdWords should match your advertisements to user search queries. And when you use these match modifiers correctly, you can limit the types of keywords in Google Ads that will trigger your online advertisements so that you can reach the best target audience for your business while avoiding unnecessary spending on irrelevant impressions and clicks.