The keywords in your paid search accounts are what drive the entire PPC machine. Without the keywords, your ads have no trigger to populate. If it were as easy as adding all the keywords in the world and walking away, said world would be so simple and perfect! Of course we all know keyword selection is crucial, and in PPC, the match type of those keywords adds another layer of critical detail if you want to have a successful PPC campaign. For this post, we’ll not only review the basics of keyword match types by engine; we’ll also review some tips to remember when managing these match types…because they can get tricky!

First and foremost, you have to understand the different match type options and how they function. I made this little chart to show the similarities and differences between the options available in AdWords and Bing Ads (under each engine, you can see what searches will trigger your keyword under the given match type):

keyword match type chart

…so that’s it? Again, it’s not as simple as a chart, but those are the basic rules to keep in mind when determining the match types for each of your keywords that you want to bid on. I was going to put one of those “keyword example” columns in, but then I thought to myself, “Nope, too restricting.” So here’s what I’m thinking! You submit a comment below, with the keyword (with correct match type punctuation, nothing for broad match) and the query you’re curious about, then I’ll tell you if that query would populate your ad if you’re bidding on the given keyword match type. Sound good?!

In the meantime, here are a few tips to keep in mind when you’re handling your keyword management (uploads, downloads, bids, and so on) that I’ve picked up along the last couple of years:

  • If you’ve downloaded a keyword report that contains modified broad match keywords, make sure you highlight the keyword column in the spreadsheet, format cells as text, and delete the apostrophe from in front of all the modified broad plus signs (it’ll look like this:  ‘+keyword ). If you re-upload the keywords with changes after that, it will be a bad thing. Just don’t do it.
  • A couple quick ways to remember potential search volume by match type:
    • Broad = Greatest impressions/lowest CTR
    • Phrase = Lower impressions/higher CTR
    • Exact = Lowest impressions/highest CTR
  • Bid accordingly based on the notes in the last bullet! Odds are that broad match keywords are less likely to convert (generally more research based queries, etc.), so you can’t bid them so high that they blow up your CPL without converting.
  • When it comes to phrase match keywords, the matching query can include words before and after your keyword phrase, as long as your keyword phrase appears in order in the query.
  • Be wary of the “close variations” note in the chart above, because sometimes…it can be a close-ish variation. For example, the broad match keyword green flag could match to a search query for emerald flag.
  • Have a solid negative keyword strategy in place to backup your keyword structure to help prevent those broad match terms you do want from wasting budget on those “close variation” searches (search query report time!).
  • Your exact match keywords will ONLY be triggered if the search query contains your keyword term in order and ONLY your keyword term in order. If the query contains any other terms, it will not trigger your exact match keyword.
  • Consider how your assigned ad copy will read if a DKI broad match keyword is triggered with a “close variation.” You certainly want to avoid any situations where the engine makes a decision to match your keyword to a query and you end up with an ad copy that makes you look silly (misspellings are the real trickster on this one!).

Let’s get some more discussion going – what are some of the tips you’ve picked up related to keyword management when it comes to match types? Share them with the PPC Hero team and readers in the comments section below!