Keywords match types (used in Google Ads) determine how closely a user's Google search query must match your chosen keywords to trigger your paid ad. There are four main types: Broad Match (most general, captures wide range of searches), Phrase Match (targets phrases and close variations), Exact Match (most specific, targets the exact term or close variations), and Negative Match (excludes your ad from searches containing certain words). Selecting the right match type helps you balance reach and relevance, ensuring that your ads appear for the most appropriate and effective search queries.
Keyword Match Types Explained
Broad Match, the default match type in Google Ads, displays your ad for searches that also includes misspellings, synonyms, related searches, and other relevant variations of your keyword. For example, if your keyword is "women's hats" Broad Match could trigger your ad for searches like "buy ladies' caps," "women's headwear on sale," or "hats for women." This wide-reaching approach maximises your ad's exposure, attracting a diverse audience. However, it requires careful monitoring to ensure the traffic is relevant, as it can also attract unrelated searches that might not convert into desired actions by users. Broad Match used to be used sparingly due to the amount of unrelated clicks received from running it, but now, if used correctly, marketers are starting to see better performance.
Phrase Match targets queries that include your exact keyword in the same order but may have additional words before or after. For instance, if your keyword is "organic coffee," your ad might appear for searches like "buy organic coffee," "organic coffee brands," or "best organic coffee online." It's more specific than Broad Match discussed above, ensuring a higher relevance while still capturing a variety of related queries. This balance helps attract users who are more likely to be interested in your product or service, improving the chances of engagement and conversion.
Exact Match will target searches that closely match your specific keyword or phrase, including close variations like misspellings, singular/plural forms, and abbreviations, but with little to no additional words. For example, if your keyword is "vegan shoes," Exact Match would still trigger your ad for searches like "vegan shoe" or "vegan shoes," but not for "buy vegan shoes" or "vegan shoes sale." This type offers the highest relevance and control, ensuring your ads appear for the most targeted and specific audience, which can lead to higher conversion rates but with potentially lower overall traffic.
Negative Match allows you to exclude specific terms from triggering your ads, helping to filter out irrelevant traffic. For instance, if you sell luxury watches, you could use "cheap" as a negative keyword. Then, if someone searches for "cheap watches," your ad won't show. This ensures your ads are not displayed to users unlikely to convert, improving the efficiency of your ad spend. By carefully choosing negative keywords, you can refine your target audience, enhance the relevance of your ad campaigns, and increase the likelihood of reaching potential customers more likely to be interested in your products or services.