June 25, 2022 5:49 am

Understanding Google AdWords PPC Keyword Match Types

As you are only paying for clicks into your website from people actively seeking a service/product that you offer you can be confident that you are spending your advertising budget wisely. That is assuming you are closely managing your PPC AdWords activity to ensure that you are not getting irrelevant web traffic.

I have put together a few tips on how those new or relatively new to Google AdWords can easily improve what you are doing to get the most out of your advertising budget and avoid the problem of unwanted PPC traffic.

Firstly; I want to highlight the importance of starting your campaigns with highly targeted keywords and then expand out (not the other way around).  1matching  Google AdWords has 3 main keyword match types – Broad match, Phrase match and Exact match (definitions below). Google will always encourage you to use broad match keywords to start with so that you match to a large number of impressions and can learn exactly what kind of searches people are running around your keywords, this will then allow you to refine your targeting more closely. This is true BUT is exactly the opposite of what a commercial business with a tight budget should actually do – the aim from day 1 should be to minimise irrelevant web traffic. You can see from the following definitions and examples what the different Google AdWords PPC keyword matching type options are.

Broad Match: The search term that the user entered only needs to vaguely match 1 word of any of the terms contained within your bidded keyword to display your ad.

Targeting & Control: Keyword matching is very loose with a low level of control.

Bidding Strategy: Keep your bids very low on these keywords.

Examples of how broad match keywords are matched to actual web searches:

Broad match keyword: Tennis Shoes

Ads may show for searches on:

tennis shoes
tennis tournament
mens shoes
ladies shoes
ladies trainers
buy tennis shoes
tennis shoe photos
running shoes
As you can see this means that you need to be very careful with your use of broad match keywords and supplement your ad groups that contain broad match keywords with a lot of negative keywords (will get to these).

Modified Broad Match – Since earlier in 2010 Google released the new ‘Modified Broad Match’ which means that you can assign special ‘anchor’ words that must match one or more of the words in the search keyword. The anchor word/s are determined by simply inserting a + sign in front of them e.g. tennis +shoes – this will mean that the search term used must contain the word ‘shoes’ within it.

Targeting & Control: Limited keyword targeting with minimum level of control.

Bidding Strategy: Initial bids should be kept relatively low but it gives good opportunity for new keyword discovery as you will still match for broadly matched terms.

e.g. for the keyword ‘tennis +shoes’ you will match on:

running shoes
tennis shoes
mens shoes
ladies shoes
buy tennis shoes
tennis shoe photos
squash shoes
Nike shoes
Dual Anchor Modified Broad Match – You can then tighten this type of keyword matching by inserting the + sign on more words in your keyword as this will mean that they also need to be in the searched term. This is referred to below as ‘Dual Anchor Modified Broad Match’.

Matching search query needs to match at least 2 designated “anchor” words contained in your bidded keyword. e.g. +tennis +shoes

Targeting & Control: Selective keyword targeting with a moderate level of control.

Bidding Strategy: Initial bids should be moderate.

You will then match for keywords such as:

tennis shoe photos
squash and tennis shoes
Nike tennis shoes
review of tennis shoes
tennis shoes
mens tennis shoes
ladies tennis shoes
shoes for tennis
buy tennis shoes
Fully Modified Broad Match – For keywords with more than 2 words you can add a + sign in front of all keywords – ‘Fully Modified Broad Match’ which will ensure that all words in your keyword must also be apparent in the users search term.

Targeting & Control: Very good keyword targeting with higher level of control. This is a great match type to start with as you have the necessary control to limit irrelevant searches but you will also discover lots of new search terms that you haven’t thought of through running search query reports.

Bidding Strategy: Initial bids can be set at a competitive level.

This is the same as for the above example as it is just a 2 word keyword but if it is a 3 word keyword then it will look like this: +white +tennis +shoes and will match on terms such as:

White tennis shoes
tennis shoes white
black and white tennis shoes
tennis shoes for wearing with white
Photo of Jimmy White wearing tennis shoes (pretty unlikely)
Phrase Match: Matching search query needs to contain within it the entire bidded keyword in the exact order that the words appear. Phrase match looks like this “white tennis shoes” and will match terms such


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