Match types are options to which PPC advertisers can use to help control which keyword searches are able to trigger their ads. Match types, when used correctly, provide companies with an opportunity to not only better their PPC campaigns through relevancy and targeted traffic, but can lower the overall costs associated with the campaign by eliminating non-relevant clicks and exposure.
For example, a Google search for “brown boots” may trigger an advertiser’s ad for “brown boot laces” on Broad Match. Clearly, there is a difference between “brown boots” and “brown boot laces”. The advertiser selling just laces should consider using Exact Match or Negative Match as a way to limit which terms their ads are shown for.
There are four primary options available, not including Broad Match Modifier which is a newer hybrid feature of the Broad Match option. The four standard keyword matching options are Broad Match, Phrase Match, Exact Match, and Negative Match.
Broad Match is the default keyword matching option used by both Google and Bing. When using Broad Match, ads will reach all users searching singular and plural versions of the keyword, as well as synonyms and other variations. This match type is an excellent way to start a campaign as it provides advertisers with the most exposure possible.
With that said, one thing I’d like for advertiser’s to keep in mind is that lots of exposure isn’t the same as quality exposure, nor is it necessarily a good thing. Depending on your goals for running a PPC campaign, Broad Match may not be the best fit for your keywords. In my example above, showing up for brown boots when one only sells brown boot laces is not very helpful and, in fact, can negatively affect a campaign.
Broad Match keywords traditionally experience more clicks compared to other matching options. In addition, these keywords also maintain lower click-through rates and tend to accumulate higher overall costs.
Phrase Match is the first step to narrowing the amount of exposure a keyword receives. When using Phrase Match, ads will only be displayed when a user’s search includes the exact keyword verbatim. The search may include words before or after the keyword, as well as close variants of the keyword including common misspellings, singular and plural forms, acronyms, stemmings, and abbreviations.
Phrase Match is available to both Google and Bing users, and is implemented by adding quotations to the keyword (ex: “Keyword”). In my brown boots example above, advertiser’s bidding on the keyword “brown boot laces” will not show up for searches of brown boots. However, the advertiser will show up for searches of long brown boot laces and brown boot laces on sale.
Keywords using Phrase Match traditionally experience less exposure and clicks than those using broad match, but pose lower costs and higher click-through rates. In addition, Phrase Match keywords tend to offer a better ROI as well.
Exact Match is the most targeted matching option available. When using Exact Match, ads will only be displayed to those searching the exact phrase being bid on, or close variants including common misspellings, singular and plural forms, acronyms, stemmings, and abbreviations.
Exact Match is supported by both Google and Bing and is implemented through the use of brackets (ex: [Keyword]). Referring back to my previous example, if an advertiser buys brown boot laces using Exact Match, their ad would only be displayed for searches of brown boot laces.
Keywords using Exact Match will see less activity than those using Phrase and Broad matching, however their costs will be smaller, traffic more relevant, and ROI greater.
With that said, those using Exact Match should also be cautious of restricting their campaigns too much. It’s important to remember a campaign needs clicks to be successful, and being too restricted can be just as hurtful as being too broad.
Negative Match is a matching type used to filter out irrelevant searches and prevent unwanted clicks. When used, advertisers are able to restrict their ad from showing whenever a Negative Matched keyword is searched.
Negative Match is used by both Google and Bing. To use in Google, advertisers need only use a minus sign in front of the keyword (Example: -keyword). Bing, on the other hand, provides a specific location to enter keyword negatives.
The following is a chart to further highlight the key differences between theses standard matching options, and how each is accepted by Google and Bing.