Match Types in Google AdWords – Use ‘Em if You’ve Got ‘Em

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Today I came across a Search Engine Roundtable post from last week that speculates whether or not Google AdWords recommends using multiple match types for a single keyword phrase. Born out of a thread at WebmasterWorld, the post struck me as odd. Personally, I frequently use the entire spectrum of match types – employing broad, phrase and exact matches of my keywords to great effect. So I was a little more than disturbed by this thought.

The comment string on this post seems to back up my stance – whoever was crying foul that using all match types is bad was misinformed. I could understand from an account management perspective why it could make sense to recommend that utilizing all three match types at once is a bad idea. If you don’t pay attention to your reporting, or take special care to separate the data received from each match type, then maybe you should only bid on either the broad, phrase or exact match.

However, my perspective is that the AdWords system isn’t perfect. You can set a keyword to phrase match, but it doesn’t pick up every possible phrase match opportunity. The same can be said for broad match. Broad matched keywords will pick up a lot of search queries, but they don’t get everything. I feel more confident pairing the two together – and carefully reviewing my performance and search query reports. Exact match comes in as the super-targeted compliment to the other match types. As you well know, exact match will drive your highest CTR, and is the true summation of your keyword research and on-going search query reporting.

I see the 3 match types complementing each other and feel strongly that limiting yourself to one – no matter what – is the wrong answer. Now, on the flip-side, I’m not advocating that you simply dump all 3 match types automatically into your accounts for EVERY keyword. Take a finesse approach, and let your keywords’ performance guide your decisions. Based on performance, you will see that one or two of the three just don’t perform as well, and you’ll need to pause those match types.

What’s your take on this discussion? Leave me a comment!

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11 thoughts on “Match Types in Google AdWords – Use ‘Em if You’ve Got ‘Em

  1. Andy (Blue Snapper)

    Hi John. Spot on. I use all three match types but only on terms that receive higher impressions. I then keep track of CTR and conversion rate and take the appropriate action.

    I like broad match as it highlights some interesting keyword combinations in search queries that keyword tools don’t uncover. Providing broad match is used with the search query report (and negative keywords) there’s no problem. If I start getting some nice broad matches against search queries – I’ll try them with different match types.

    I’ve seen a lot of blog posts spawned form the WebmasterWorld thread that warn against running all three match types, particularly broad match as it’ll damage CTR/Quality Score (QS). It won’t! Only exact matching of search queries with broad match bid keywords impacts QS and therefore CPC/Ad Rank. A common misunderstanding I think.



  2. JohnJohn Post author


    Thanks for lending your insights. You hit the nail on the head! Anyone who complains that broad match will damage your Quality Score is sadly misinformed. You are correct that only the EXACT MATCH of your keywords impacts QS. The testing and research possibilities from using broad match are too good to pass up.

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  4. Rob

    I agree John, matching types are definitely important to test with! Especially if your higher traffic driving keywords are very broad and could match in different verticals (i.e. – alot of car models).

  5. Craig Danuloff

    There is an absolute reason to use all three match types, in some cases, for the same keyword. In fact, without doing so there is no way to control the way your keywords match queries and to pay the amount you want for the very different values different queries provide. I’ve described my preferred method as the ‘match type keyword trap’ and written it up with neat-o diagrams here:

  6. Matt L

    bah, your over-intelligent blog readers beat me to all my responses. I’ll just “second” in agreement.

    Also, if anyone goes after moderately obscure niches like our clients tend to, they had better be shooting for broad match and manage bids separately otherwise they will face the opposite of the “paying too much for the wrong traffic”. They will be getting a trickle of leads and come too far under budget which can get you canned just as quick.

  7. JohnJohn Post author

    @ Rob,

    Thanks for commenting. Using broad match to intelligently test for new keywords is a very handy trick, indeed.

    @ Craig,

    You certainly have a great way of explaining processes – good stuff!!! Oh, and the neat-o diagrams are nice, too. : ) The way you explain it as “…values different queries provide” is perfect. Each match type performs differently, and if you don’t you are missing out on opportunities.

    @ Matt,

    I, too, have run into niche B2B clients where tightening down on match types has actually limited traffic and leads. There’s already a limited amount of search volume, and it is impossible to know every potential search query – so employing broad match (and carefully reviewing performance) will ensure you’re firing on all cylinders.

  8. Patrick Schrodt

    We actually re-designed our entire campaign into match types. Our adgroups used to have all match types in them, now they are broken down by match type (now we have 3 times more AdGroups) The quality score on the exact match adgroups are through the roof! 9 out of 10 and 10/10! We have found that it is also easier to track in our analytics tools also.

    By doinf this, we have eneded up saving thousands per month, as we found that the braod terms did not seem to convert as well.

    Test it out!

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  10. Mark

    Although a little late to this post, I thought I would share my ideas and techniques with you all.

    With the advent of Broad Match Modifier (BMM) I now list as many keywords as possible split into groups using the “+” for each word within the keyword – make sense? I’ll then run the “See Search Term” report about every 7 days and find keywords which are receiving a few clicks, I’ll then take these top performing keywords and create Exact matches.

    In summary, BMM is used to cast the net wide and find keywords which are getting clicks for my target cost per click. These keywords are then added as an exact match to further enhance its position to hopefully increase clicks.

    One point you may have noticed is that Phrase Match is not mentioned. With the coming of BMM i’ll be honest to say I cannot see the reason to use it any more.

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