AdWords Keyword Match Types Explained


In addition to the settings, the selection of keywords and match types can greatly influence a campaign's bottom line. For more conversions at lower costs, I recommend an audit of your keywords and match types. Read on for an overview of Google's 5 different match types, including what they mean, how they work, and when you should use them.

Broad Match

Broad Match is the broadest of all match types and has no special symbol, so often (and usually unfortunately) this is the match type that advertisers use by default. With Broad Match, your ads may show for searches that are considered similar, including synonyms, related terms, and other relevant variations. Sounds vague, right? It is! Broad Match can be useful for collecting a wealth of data, and then refining the terms later, but often these keywords will bring in a lot of clicks, and few relevant leads.

Keyword: Alaska real estate
Ads may show for searches like: Alaska wilderness for sale, houses for rent in Alaska, free land Alaska

Symbol: None
Pros: casts the widest net for most impressions, collects data
Cons: high cost due to many clicks, low conversion rate
Recommended: rarely due to low ROI

+Broad +Match +Modifier

Broad Match Modifier is a great way to keep your impressions up while ensuring that your ads are showing for relevant searches that include your most important keywords. By adding a + to your terms, you're telling AdWords that that term must be included in the search, or close variations, in any order. This match type will jump start your campaign by bringing in leads and collecting data that can be later used for advanced optimization.

Keyword: +Alaska +real +estate
Ads many show for searches like: real estate in Alaska, buy Alaska real estate, real estate 123 First St Anchorage Alaska

Symbol: +
Pros: increases relevancy for more conversions, captures a variety of queries for many impressions, collects data
Cons: ads still could show for some unrelated searches
Recommended: yes, especially for new campaigns or communities with low search volume

"Phrase Match"

In my experience, Phrase Match is a safe bet when it comes to selecting a keyword match type. With this match type, someone has to search the phrase (the terms surrounded by quotation marks), but can have more words before or after, as long as the phrase stays intact. This match type is a more targeted match type than either of the broad match types, and by using it, your ads are less likely to show for searches using terms unrelated to your area of service and property types.

Keyword: Alaska real estate
Ads may show for searches like: Alaska real estate for sale, Alaska real estate listings, Alaska real estate lawyer

Symbol: " "
Pros: adds another level of control to when your ads will be triggered for relevant traffic, collects long-tail keywords
Cons: limits the impressions, unrelated terms can be added before or after the phrase
Recommended: yes, though you may have trouble getting the volume you want for less popular searches

[Exact Match]

Exact Match is the most limiting of all AdWords match types, but also the most specific; it can often be more expensive but it also can have the biggest payoff. With this match type, your ads are triggered only if someone searches your term exactly. Exact match is a great way to leverage conversion keyword data, and take advantage of the search terms you’ve noted convert best.

Keyword: [Alaska real estate]
Ads will show for searches like: Alaska real estate

Symbol: [ ]
Pros: offers the highest level of control, ads are only triggered if term is searched exactly, high conversion rates
Cons: can be very limiting, clicks themselves can be more expensive
Recommended: yes, best suited for mature campaigns that have collected keyword data

-Negative Match

Negative Match is an important match type that is often overlooked. Your ads will not show when a Negative Match term is included in a search query. For example, if lawyer was included as a Negative term, your ad would not show for an Alaska real estate lawyer query, even if Alaska real estate was one of your keywords.

Symbol: -
Pros: prevents your ads from showing up in unrelated searches that include your terms
Cons: certain terms could also block potential leads depending on the search
Recommended: yes

By building a campaign that utilizes the different match types, you'll be taking advantage of special tools from Google that will help you grow your campaign from "okay" to "awesome"! Remember—you don't have to have the keywords perfect right away, but with time and a little analysis, you'll be able to refine and optimize your campaign's keywords for best results.

Anne Fortin

Marketing & PPC Team Lead
Real Estate Webmasters


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