Google Ad Keyword Matches

It is necessary to understand keyword match types, to rum successful AdWords campaign. Match types give you the power to control that how relevant a search term needs to be, to match your keyword and trigger your ad.


What Are Google AdWords Match Types?

When creating a text ad in your AdWords PPC campaign, you can choose broad match, modified broad match, phrase match, or exact match for your keyword match type. Each match type in google AdWords account has its own advantages and disadvantages. 


How they Work

Every keyword you add to your account can be assigned from one of four possible match types: broad, broad match modifier, phrase, or exact. You can assign a match type by adding symbols, like quotations or brackets to your keywords.


Let’s see at the symbols associated with each match type and how it affects the reach and relevance of your keywords.  

Google Adwords keyword matches

Broad Match

Broad match keywords will give us the widest reach, but the least relevance.


No other additional symbols are required to set your keyword as broad; you just type it in as it is. Broad match keywords will match to the search terms that are misspellings, synonyms, related searches, and whatever AdWords considers to be relevant variations of your keyword. This means that your keywords do not have to be in the search term anywhere and your ad can still show by google.


Bike shop as a broad match keyword would match to any search terms that mentioned bikes, shop, or any synonyms or related terms, determined by Google.

Example bike shop matches: motorcycle store, cycle stores, and mountain bike shops

Broad Match Modifier (BMM)

You set a BMM keyword by putting a plus “+” sign in front of any or all the words in your keyword. Any word with a plus (+) before it must be in the search term, or a close variant of that word. Note that you do not have to put a +sign in front of every word in your keyword, only the words that have to be in the search term. I like to refer this as partial or complete modified keywords.


If you add the BMM keyword +bike +shop to your account it will only match to search terms that contain both the words bike and the shop, or close variants of bike and shop. Order of the words doesn’t matter. If you only partially modify the keyword as +bike shop, the search term just has to have the word bike, or (close variant), to match your keyword. 

Example +bike +shop matches: bike repair shop, shop for a bike repair.

Example +bike shop matches: bike store, bike

Phrase Match

You set a Phrase match keyword by putting it in quotation marks. For a search term to match a phrase match keyword, it must contain all the words or close variants in the keyword in the same order without any words in between. The search term can have other words before and after the phrase.

The phrase match keyword the “bike shop” would only have the match to the keywords that have the words bike shop right next to each other, without any terms in between. The search terms can have additional words before and after the phrase bike shop.

Example “bike shop” matches: nearby bike shop, bike shops in Washington

Exact Match

Exact match keywords gives the lowest reach but highest relevance. Putting the keyword in square brackets sets exact match keywords. Only the search terms that exactly match the keywords will trigger your ad. This means all the words are present, in the same order, without any words before, after, or in between the keyword.


The exact match keyword [bike shop] will only match to search term bike shop and with no additional words, or close variants.


Example [bike shop] matches: bike shop, bike shops