Using keyword matching options via Google AdWords
You can add matching options to your keywords to help control which searches will trigger your ad to appear. Ranging from broad to narrow, there are four options available: broad match (and broad match modifier), phrase match, exact match, and negative match. Keep in mind that keyword matching options are available for Search Network only and Search and Display Network campaign types.
In general, the broader the keyword matching option, the more traffic potential that keyword has; while the narrower the keyword matching option, the more relevant that keyword will be to someone’s search. Understanding these differences can steer you in choosing the right keyword matching options and can help you improve your return on investment (ROI).
To use a particular keyword match type, you can use special punctuation. Each keyword match type triggers ads to show in different ways. The chart below serves as an introduction to the different matching options, and we’ll give more information on each option in the sections below.
|Use this match type…||With this punctuation…||To trigger your ad on…||Example|
|broad match||none||synonyms, related searches, and other relevant variations||adopt kittens chicago|
|broad match modifier||+keyword||close variations but not synonyms or related searches||+adopt +kittens +chicago|
|phrase match||“keyword”||a phrase and close variants of that phrase||“adopt kittens” chicago|
|exact match||[keyword]||an exact term and close variants of that exact term||[adopt kittens chicago]|
|negative match||-keyword||searches without the term||-puppies|
Here’s an overview of each match type, in order from broad to narrow:
See match type
Broad match: The default matching option, broad match means that your ad may show if a search term contains your keyword terms in any order, and possibly along with other terms. Your ads can also show for singular or plural forms, synonyms, stemmings (such as floor and flooring), related searches, and other relevant variations. Sticking with the broad match default is a great choice if you don’t want to spend a lot of time building your keyword lists and want to capture the highest possible volume of ad traffic.
|Broad match keyword||Ads may show on searches for|
|tennis shoes||buy tennis shoes
best shoes for tennis
tennis shoe laces
Broad match modifier: You can add a modifier, a plus sign (+), to your broad match keywords if you’d like your ads to show when someone searches for close variants of your keywords in any order. Close variants include misspellings, singular/plural forms, abbreviations and acronyms, and stemmings. Unlike broad match, using a modifier excludes synonyms or related searches. For this reason, it adds an additional level of control. Using broad match modifier is a good choice if you want to increase relevancy even if it means you might get less ad traffic than broad match.
|Broad match modifier||Ads may show on searches for||Ads won’t show on searches for|
|+tennis +shoes||tennis shoes
buy tennis shoes
best shoes for tennis
Phrase match: With phrase match, your ad can show when someone searches for your exact keyword, or your exact keyword with additional words before or after it. We’ll also show your ad when someone searches for close variants of that exact keyword, or with additional words before or after it. Close variants include misspellings, singular and plural forms, acronyms, stemmings (such as floor and flooring), abbreviations, and accents. Using phrase match can help you reach more customers, while still giving you more precise targeting. In other words, your keywords are less likely to show ads to customers searching for terms that aren’t related to your product or service.
To use a phrase match keyword, simply surround the words you want matched with quotation marks. Since we’ll automatically show your ads for close variants in your new and existing campaigns, there’s no need to separately add variants of your keyword.
|Phrase match keyword||Ads may show on searches for||Ads won’t show on searches for|
|“tennis shoes”||red tennis shoes
red tenis shoes
|shoes for tennis
Exact match: With exact match, your ads can appear when someone searches for your exact keyword, without any other terms in the search. We’ll also show your ad when someone searches for close variants of that specific keyword. Close variants include misspellings, singular and plural forms, acronyms, stemmings (such as floor and flooring), abbreviations, and accents. The difference between exact match and phrase match is that if someone enters additional words before or after the keyword, your ad won’t show. Using exact match means that your keywords are targeted more precisely than broad match or phrase match.
To use an exact match keyword, simply surround the words you want matched with brackets. Since we’ll automatically show your ads for close variants in your new and existing campaigns, there’s no need to separately add other variants of your keyword.
|Exact match keyword||Ads may show on searches for||Ads won’t show on searches for|
|[tennis shoes]||tennis shoes
|red tennis shoes
buy tennis shoes
Negative match: You can use negative match to filter out irrelevant searches and thus prevent unwanted clicks. Your ad won’t show if a search query contains the keyword term you define with a minus sign (-) prefix. As shown in the screenshot below, negative match keywords have their own section (which is minimized by default) below your keyword table. When you create a negative match keyword (or make one from an existing keyword by adding negative punctuation), it will show up there. Negative keywords are an especially useful way to filter your search traffic if your account contains lots of broad match keywords.
See negative keywords
If your keyword is bears and you add the negative keyword -polar your ad won’t appear for any searches that contain the word polar.
|Negative match keyword||Ads may show on searches for||Ads won’t show on searches for|
|bears -polar||teddy bears
Choosing the right keyword matching options
When choosing the appropriate match type for a keyword, we typically recommend following a broad-to-narrow strategy. This will make it easier to compare and filter for relevance based on observed performance. Begin by using the Keyword Tool to brainstorm for keyword ideas and explore the likely keyword variations that will trigger your ad.
As your broad matches quickly gather impressions and clicks, you’ll be able to monitor which keyword variations triggered your ads by reviewing the search terms report (see the “Next steps” below). The “Match type” column in your search term report tells you how search terms that triggered your ads on Google are related to actual keywords in your account. You can use this information to improve your keyword list. Identify new search terms with high potential that you want to add as keywords, and weed out any terms that aren’t as relevant to your business. If you find that most of the variations shown in the search term report are irrelevant, consider making your keyword match types more specific.