Keyword Match Types

Last updated on October 22, 2019

Are your Google Ads campaigns not performing as expected?

There are many reasons why a Google Ads campaign might not be performing. One optimisation to do with keywords that is often overlooked or forgotten about is – Match Type.

Simply, ‘Match Type’ is the way Google matches the keywords in your ad with the way in which a user searches. A ‘Match’ can either be Broad, Phrase or Exact.


A ‘Broad Match’ is the default, and while this setting has the benefit of allowing your ads to be displayed in front of the widest possible audience, the downside is that you may miss opportunities to convert and therefore waste budget unnecessarily with your targeting. ‘Broad Match’ as a tactic is very much a scatter-gun approach which can be ‘set and forget’, but it is a good place to start when you set up a campaign.

Here is an example of a Broad Match type:

When the campaign has been running for a few weeks you can review the data (Search Terms) and make changes based on actual searches users are conducting. You can find this data in the Keywords Menu in Google Account Manager. When the Google Account Manager Keywords Dashboard is open, you will see a tab in the top middle of the screen with a drop down menu called Search Terms.

Click on this dropdown and select ‘Search Terms’. A table is opened which has a number of data points one of which is Match Type. Next to your keyword is the match that is the result of the users search, this is the Match Type you can use – how easy is that!

Broad Match Modifiers (BMM) can be used to add additional control to the Broad Match type. Broad match modifiers ensure that your ads will only show when a users search includes words you’ve marked with a plus sign, such as +quick +hardwood +flooring installation, or close variations of these terms.

Close variants for broad match modifier include misspellings, singular and plural forms, abbreviations and acronyms like “floor” and “flooring”. Synonyms like “quick” and “fast” and related searches like “tile” and “laminate” aren’t considered close variants for broad match modifier. Modifiers add more specificity to your broad match keywords, and therefore narrow their reach. So, while using a broad match modifier can increase the relevance of your keywords, it in turn can decrease your expected traffic.


A ‘Phrase Match’ is an ideal Match Type if you want to target a set of words repeated across a number of different search queries, and you want to manage all of the traffic that’s appearing in those queries. A key consideration in using Phrase Match is that the order of the words matters. In other words, your ad won’t appear if someone enters an additional word in the middle of your keyword such as “shoes for running” when the Phrase Match is ‘running shoes’.

Phrase match is more flexible than Exact Match and more targeted than the default Broad Match option. With Phrase Match, you can reach more potential customers, while still showing your ads to those who are most likely searching for your product or service. Phrase Match is great if you want to increase your Clickthrough Rate (CTR) and it increases the likelihood of a click because your ad shows only when it matches the searcher’s phrase. It also helps decrease unwanted impressions for search terms that don’t match your phrase.

Here is an example of a Phrase Match type:

If your budget is limited at the start of the campaign consider using Phrase Match rather than Broad Match as a starting point. This will ensure you don’t use up all of your budget early on. 


As its name implies, an ‘Exact Match’ shows your ad to users who are searching for your exact keyword, or close variants of your exact keyword. Close variants include searches for keywords with the same meaning as the exact keywords, regardless of spelling or grammar similarities between the query and the keyword.

If we use the ‘running shoes’ or ‘shoes for running’ example, whatever the user is searching for remains the same – they’re looking for running shoes. Close variants of exact match keywords help you connect with people who are looking for your business but takes into account the slight variations in the way people search. This reduces the need to build out extensive keyword lists to reach these customers.

Here is an example of an Exact Match type:
Note: the square brackets represent the syntax for an Exact Match

Of the four keyword matching options, Exact Match gives you the most control over who sees your ad, and can result in a higher Clickthrough Rate (CTR).

If you need help to get clarity and direction with your digital marketing then book in a free 20 minute call.

We can talk about what you want to achieve, then give you some advice about the best approach to take. If we can help further – great – if not – we can point you in the right direction.

About the Author

Chris is a Client Success Manager at Konnector working with a portfolio of clients to help them achieve their digital marketing and business goals. His specialities include: Search Engine Optimisation, Online Advertising, Inbound Marketing, Growth Strategy Advice and Advertising Performance Improvement Techniques. Chris is certified in Google Ads and holds a Certificate in Digital Marketing from the Marketing Association of New Zealand.

Chris Ogles