Keyword Match Types Explained: Successful Keyword Matching that Converts

In digital marketing, a keyword is a word or a group of words used to perform a search in a search engine. This is important in search engine optimisation (SEO), and all other forms of digital marketing like YouTube advertising, incorporated in the core of various types of web content:

  1. Copy
  2. Images
  3. Titles
  4. Other elements

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More About Keyword Match Types

Going a little bit deeper, conducting a Google keyword search involves identifying and analysing search terms being entered by users into search engines. The goal is to enhance SEO strategies and guide other essential marketing activities. This is among the first few steps that any business should undertake before publishing any content online—both on mobile and web platforms.

By conducting proper keyword research, you can accomplish the following:

  1. Discover related questions and issues that your product can target and resolve.
  2. Measure how popular these related queries are.
  3. Assess how difficult it would be to rank your content using such keywords.
  4. Many more!

You will encounter the term, “Google Ads keyword match types” as you try to identify which keywords are most suitable for your ad campaign. These are key to any marketer’s search ads strategy, providing guidance on what kinds of keywords should be used. Accuracy is critical when it comes to identifying keywords. It pays to match what your target audience is actually typing in Google’s search bar.

Not having search terms that match users’ search queries prevents you from bidding effectively. This simply means you’ll get outbid and outranked by your competitors—and no one wants that.

picture of Google ads

Google Ads Campaign Boost: Keyword Match Type Strategy

A great Google Ad campaign is characterised primarily by a great set of well-researched keywords. Remember, it’s essentially about relevance. You want your ads and business to show up when people type in search terms that are related to what you’re offering. That can only happen by gaining a deeper understanding of how keywords work.

Crucial Part of Segmentation

Reaching your target audience involves defining the groups of online users that will see your ads. You’re only as relevant as you describe yourself to be, and it’s not only limited to how you view yourself. More importantly, how do you will your potential customers find you?

Other than the age, location, and language, advertisers rely on specific keywords to properly segment their audiences. Casting a wide net in digital advertising only works if you know which part of the water to throw it in. So make sure your keywords are in sync with the users’ search intent.

Creation of Specific Offers

Another reason to place higher importance on keyword research is the opportunity to come up with new offers. It’s easier to craft specific promotions if you know what users are looking for. Wouldn’t it be a waste if your special and competitive offers won’t be seen by your customers? That’s what will likely happen in the absence of a robust keyword strategy and research.

Keyword match types

About the 3 Main Google Ads Keyword Match Types

To make better sense of keyword search and utilisation, it’s necessary to know the 3 main match types and some keyword match types examples:

Broad Match

This is the default keyword match type setting. It involves a user typing in a keyword, variants of that same keyword, or other topics related to the search. From the term itself, it’s a broad reach for each and every possible related idea.

For example, you’re a cake designer or bakeshop and you choose a broad match keyword like “cakes”. You’re essentially telling Google to show your ads if a user types in that search term or any other related terms, such as: “pastries”, “bread”, “cupcakes”, “birthday cakes”, etc. Through a broad match, you’re able to reach more people—more eyes on your ads and more chances of boosting traffic, conversions, and sales.

If you don’t specify your preferred matching option on Google Ads, this would be the default setting. Although it will possibly blast your ads to more people, it shouldn’t be the main focus of your campaign. You’d want to spend more time and resources on keywords and bidding strategies that will yield qualified traffic and leads.

Exact Match

On the other side of the coin, you have exact keyword match type, which uses long tail keywords. This category includes keywords that have the same intent or meaning as the user’s search intent. Using this type allows you to gain greater control over your ad campaign because irrelevant searches won’t make your ads appear. This means only the specific people you’re targeting will see your ads, increasing the chances of actual conversions and sales.

One clear drawback of this particular keyword match type category is having limited reach because of fewer searches. Compared to broad match and phrase match (to be discussed further later on), you’ll end up with fewer searches if you choose the exact match route. Of the 3 keyword matching options, exact match gives you the most control over who sees your ad, but reaches fewer searches than both phrase and broad match.

As an example, if you set the exact match keyword “baby boy birthday cake”, users will most likely see your ads if they use the following keywords—on top of what you’ve set:

Phrase Match

The main purpose of keyword match types is to get as close as possible to your target audience’s actual search intent. Using broad match won’t propel you to that goal in most cases. However, if you become a bit more specific in the keywords that will trigger your ad’s appearance in Google’s network, you will increase your chances of success.

Be too specific, though, and you run the risk of reducing your ads’ chances of appearing in front of several potential customers. At the end of the day, it still depends on the strategy you want to work with. This is where a phrase match can come in handy.

A phrase match is a balance between broad and exact match, where your ads can be shown when someone searches for something that’s defined closely to what you’re offering. You can take advantage of the fact that a keyword’s meaning can be implied, but what does this mean?

If, for example, you set the phrase keyword match “wedding cakes”, the following search terms can also trigger your ads to pop up:

  • Wedding cakes ideas
  • Wedding cakes prices
  • Wedding cakes designs
  • Where to buy wedding cakes

It’s advisable to utilise this type with the help of a seasoned Google ads specialist to make better sense of the data you’ll be getting. Several entrepreneurs also perceive phrase match differently. Although you’re getting a more targeted pool of keywords, you’re also reducing the searches and views your ads will get. only showing your ads on the searches that include your product or service.close look at keyword match types picture

What is the best keyword match type?

Best” would depend on your goals and strategies as a business. There’s really no one-size-fits-all keyword match type strategy because different audiences behave differently online. However, if you want a more black-and-white set of pros and cons for each keyword match type, check this out:

Broad Match

Maximum Reach

Minimum Relevance


Exact Match

Minimum Reach

Maximum Relevance

Phrase Match

Average Reach

Average Relevance

You also have another tool up your sleeve: negative keyword match types. These basically allow you to exclude search terms from ad campaigns. Using negative keywords informs Google that you only want to focus on particular keywords that are relevant to your customers. This boosts the likelihood that your ads would appear in front of those interested to get your product or service.

Regardless of which keyword match type you choose for your ad campaigns, it’s still best to consult experienced marketers. What you’re aiming for is to spend wisely on what would convert quality leads—fast.


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