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Digital Marketing Blog

Fishing for Relevance with Match Types

by | Jan 13, 2020

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Keyword match types help control which searches on Google and Microsoft can trigger your ad. They help determine the size of the net you are going to use when fishing for new customers.

Broad Match

Broad match is the default match type that all your keywords are assigned. Ads may show on searches that include misspellings, synonyms, related searches, and other relevant variations. This is the widest net you can use in your quest for new customers.

For example, if the broad match keyword you are using is low-carb diet plan, then your ads may show on searches for: carb-free foods, low carb diets, low calorie recipes, Mediterranean diet books, and low carbohydrate dietary programs.

Broad match can be beneficial for those who don’t have the time to spend on building extensive, specific keyword lists. But be careful, as broad match casts a very wide net and it will pull in all sorts of traffic from all sorts of keywords that you may not have intended to catch. Each click will cost you money, so be cautious in your use of broad match.

Note: Broad match works particularly well with Smart Bidding, a subset of automated bid strategies that use machine learning to optimize for conversions or conversion value in every auction. This is known as “auction-time bidding.” If you’re using Smart Bidding on your search campaigns, Google will automatically prioritize your keywords that are performing better in order to achieve your campaigns’ goals.

Modified Broad Match

To narrow the circumference of your net, consider using modified broad match, which ensures that specific terms are being used by the audience you are trying to target. Modified broad match is implemented by putting a + symbol in front of keywords. Ads may show on searches that contain all the terms designated with a + sign (or close variations of those terms) in any order. Close variations include terms with the same meaning. Additional words may appear before, after, or between the terms.

For example, if the modified broad match keywords is +women’s +hats, then your ads may show on women’s scarves and hats, winter hats for women, and hats for stylish ladies. All of the searches have a variation of women or hats in them, so they can trigger an ad.

Phrase Match

Ads may show on searches that match a phrase, or close variations of that phrase, which may include additional words before or after. Ads won’t show, however, if a word is added to the middle of the phrase that changes the meaning of the phrase. Phrase match is designated by placing quotation marks around the keyword.

For example, if the phrase match keyword used is “women’s hats,” then your ads may show on blue women’s hats, buy hats for women, and ladies hats on sale. Note that since ladies is a close match for women, the phrase match keyword of “women’s hats” will still allow a close variant search such as ladies hats on sale, to trigger your ad.

Exact Match

The exact match type casts the narrowest net, matching only the exact term or close variations of that exact term with the same meaning. Exact match is designated by placing brackets around the keyword.

For example, if the exact match keyword used is [women’s hats] then your ads may show for women’s hats, ladies hats, hats for women, and hats women. Again, we see ladies keywords coming into play as close matches for women.

Negative Keywords

Negative keywords are your friends. You will ALWAYS need to use negative keywords to fine-tune your efforts, no matter which match type(s) you decide to use in your marketing (fishing for customers) efforts.

If you are a fisherman who can profit from any sort of fish you catch in the sea, then broad match fish could be a great choice for you. But you still may capture bottle nose dolphins or other sea mammals in your nets. If you know you cannot profit from capturing bottle nose dolphins, then you can add -[bottle nose dolphins] as a negative exact match and that will repel any bottle nose dolphins from your net. If you cannot profit from any form of dolphin you might catch in your net, then you can add -dolphin and -dolphins as negative broad matches in order to have your net repel any sort of dolphin.

If you can only profit from purple fish, then you may want to use +purple +fish as a modified broad match to capture all the purple fish you can. Keep an eye out for any close variants that get caught in your net but don’t fit your s(c)ales model, so negatives can still come into play. You may realize you are capturing purple angel fish. If there is no profit for you in purple angel fish, you can add -angel and -angelfish as negative broad matches to repel any angel fish or angelfish from getting caught in your net.

If you can only profit from purple tuna fish, then you can use “purple tuna fish” in a phrase match variant to capture all the purple tuna fish you can, including big purple tuna fish, tasty purple tuna fish, and small purple tuna fish. Keep an eye out for any close variants that get caught in your net but don’t fit your sales model. Negatives can still come into play even though you’ve narrowed your scope.

If you are a fisherman who can only profit from large, green-scaled tuna, then you can use [large green scaled tuna] exact match so your net only goes after large, green-scaled tuna and is not attracted to any other form of fish. You will have to watch out for any close variants that don’t fit your sales model, so still check your search query report even if you are using all exact match keywords. The search engines may consider large pink scaled tuna as a close variant, for example, even though you can only sell large, green-scaled tuna, so you may need to put in -pink as a negative broad match to repel any pink tuna from getting caught in your net.

For more sleuthing ideas, read “5 Ways to Find Negative Keywords.”

In the long run, the more precise you are in casting your net, and the more aware you are of what is actually being caught in your net, the more profitable your fishing efforts will be.