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Marketing 360® Blog

How Keyword Match Type Works for Search Engine Marketing

Post By Scott Yoder | Paid Search

One of the most common oversights business owners new to paid search marketing make is not setting match type for keywords.  This costly mistake drives irrelevant traffic and wastes clicks.

What is Keyword Match Type?

Keyword match type determines when the system displays your ads based on the searcher’s keyword query.  There are three types, all used similarly on Google Adwords, Bing Paid Advertising, Facbook for Business, and Amazon.

Broad Match

With broad match, the system triggers your ad with misspellings, synonyms, related searches, or other variations the algorithm deems relevant.

For example, a search for mens boots might trigger your broad match keyword phrase buy men’s hiking boots.

Broad match is the default setting on paid systems, and many novices setting-up campaigns fail to change it.  Usually, this is a costly mistake because the traffic is not targeted enough to bring the most convertible traffic.

Often people think broad match will work best because it gives them the most exposure.  But with small business online advertising, mass exposure is rarely the goal.  Usually, you want to target the searcher’s intention more specifically.

If you want to maximize exposure, we recommend using broad match modifier.  In this case, the ad will show for modified phrases that include your keywords, but not for synonyms.

For example, +men +hiking boots would trigger best deal on hiking boots for men.  At least in this case, the actual words you specify must be used.

You almost never want to start a campaign with broad match keywords.  They are best used when you have clear traffic goals and high-value keywords you’ve already established from other campaigns.

Phrase Match

Phrase match is more exact.  In this case, you create a short keyword phrase, and that phrase must appear in the search query.

For example, keyword “men’s hiking boots” would trigger your ad for the search where to buy cheap men’s hiking boots.  However, it wouldn’t trigger cheap hiking boots for men.

Phrase match works well when you have a clear target phrase that’s also often an anchor idea within a longer search query.  You’ll get fairly broad exposure, but it’s more likely to match the intent you’re targeting than broad match.

Exact Match

With exact match, your ad will only be triggered when the exact keyword phrase is used.  So, only [men’s hiking boots] will work (note that slight variations, like mens hiking boots or men’s hiking boot will also trigger your ad).

Exact match gives the most control over who sees your ads.  It is likely to have higher click-through-rates and conversions, but also limits exposure from potential customers using a different, related term.

Negative Keywords

You can create a list of negative keywords that, when used in a search query, automatically exclude your ad.

For example, if you’re running campaigns to sell men’s hiking boots, you might want to ad the word “trail” as a negative keyword since using that word does not suggest buying intent.

If you have a solid negative keyword list, you can more safely run some broad match campaigns.

Budgets and Match Types

Again, the single most common mistake on paid search is keeping match type at default broad.  Beginners sometimes put in a very general term, like hiking boots, then let it run on broad.  Because a great deal of traffic for this term won’t be from shoppers, you end up burning through your budget.

On the other hand, if all you do is run a few exact match terms, you might not generate enough traffic to create significant results.  You’ll control your traffic and budget, but not account for the variety of ways people might search for the idea you’re targeting.

The best strategy is to start with a mix of phrase and exact match keywords that are more targeted and will generate higher quality scores.  After you test which keywords are driving the best results, you can use them with broad match modifier.

For sales and lead generation, it’s unlikely you’ll use much broad match unless you identify an idea that really connects to your offering.  However, you can use it for awareness campaigns or informational marketing where the keyword phrase is low-competition, low-bid.

You have to match your daily budget to your keyword bids to make sure you have enough exposure through the day.  For example, if the first-page bid for your keyword is $5, a daily budget of only $10 will only get you two clicks.  But if your keyword bids are $.25, you’d have enough for 40 clicks per day.

It’s also important that you monitor your traffic activity throughout the day, especially if you’re using broad or phrase match.  The system may limit your exposure if your bidding is too low or your budget gets quickly used.

If you don’t have the time or knowledge to run effective campaigns, try  our paid search advertising management plan, Top Placement Ads®.