In the fast-changing world of digital advertising, where every click counts, Google Ads can make a big difference in the amount of conversions made on your website. Did you know that 64.6% of consumers click on Google Ads when they are looking to buy an item online? Understanding and strategically using Google Ads keyword match types is key to maximizing ROIs for your ad spend.

In this article, we will go over the 3 primary keyword match types—broad, phrase, and exact—as well as provide actionable recommendations on how to effectively use them in your Google Ads campaigns.

What Are Google Ads?

google ads match types

Google Ads, formerly known as Google AdWords, is Google’s advertising platform that allows businesses to run ads on Google’s search engine results pages. Advertisers bid on keywords, and when users search for these terms, their ads are displayed, creating a targeted advertising space when used with the right keywords and demographic targeting.

SEE ALSO: How To Disable Auto Apply Recommendations In Google Ads

What are the 3 Keyword Match Types?

keyword match type pyramid

When it comes to Google Ads, keyword match types control how broad or narrow your ads are shown in response to search queries. The three primary match types are broad match, phrase match, and exact match.

Broad Match Keywords in Google Ads

Broad match keywords are the default keyword match type in Google Ads. This match type displays ads for queries related to the meaning of your targeted keyword. Broad match keywords are best suited for large-budget advertisers seeking to capture diverse audience segments or for the early stages of your Google Ads campaign where you are still collecting data about your target audience.


If your keyword is “Google Ads Agency,” your ad could appear for searches like “Hamilton Ad Agency” or “Hamilton Google Ads Services.”

Phrase Match Keywords in Google Ads

Phrase match keywords can be identified by quotation marks around the keyword. They can be seen as a middle ground between reach and relevance. Ads are displayed for searches containing the target keyword, ensuring a more targeted audience.


For the phrase match keyword “Hamilton SEO” your ad might appear for searches like “Hamilton SEO Agency” or “best Hamilton SEO Company.”

Exact Match Keywords in Google Ads

Exact match keywords are enclosed in square brackets. They provide the highest level of precision by displaying Google ads for specific search terms. When using exact match keywords, ads will only appear on searches that exactly match the target keyword with no variations.


With the exact match keyword [Hamilton Web Design], your ad would only show for searches that say exactly “Hamilton Web Design” and not for any variations like “best Hamilton Web Design company” or “Hamilton Web designers.”

How To Use Each Keyword Match Type In Your Google Ads Campaign

keyword match type examples google ads

Mastering the use of different keyword match types can make or break the effectiveness of your Google Ads campaign. Here’s a breakdown of how to effectively utilize each match type:

Broad Match:

  • Ideal for advertisers with large budgets or early in the campaign.
  • Utilize a robust negative keyword strategy to filter irrelevant traffic.
  • Well-suited for gathering more data about your audience and bidding strategies.

Phrase Match:

  • Strikes a balance between reach and relevance.
  • Use quotes around the keyword to target related searches.
  • An excellent choice for most advertisers due to its refined audience targeting.

Exact Match:

  • Enclose the keyword in brackets for precise targeting.
  • Best for advertisers prioritizing relevancy over reach.
  • Effective in reducing unwanted costs and maintaining high conversion rates.

When Would You Use Each Keyword Match Type?

Choosing the right keyword match type depends on your campaign objectives and budget considerations:

Broad Match: Optimal for reaching a wide audience. Use when experimenting with extensive keyword variations.

Phrase Match: Strikes a balance between reach and precision. Suitable for advertisers prioritizing relevance without sacrificing a significant audience.

Exact Match: Ideal for precise targeting. Choose when aiming for the most relevant and specific searches.

Using Several Keyword Match Types In Your Campaign

Using several keyword match types often yields the best results for most Google ad campaigns. Combining broad, phrase, and exact match keywords in a campaign allows for comprehensive coverage while ensuring a focused approach where needed. It also allows your campaign to gather more data and find opportunities you may not have thought of during the launch of your ads.

Flaws of Using Only Broad Keyword Match

While broad match keywords can capture a wide spectrum of searches, it also comes with one major downside that shouldn’t be overlooked. It can often lead to irrelevant traffic and requires a vigilant negative keyword strategy to maintain relevance across a growing number of search terms and keywords. An over-reliance on broad match keywords without consistent monitoring with a negative keyword strategy can lead to inefficiencies and suboptimal campaign performance.

Conclusion: Choosing The Right Keyword Match Type For Your Ads Campaign

Choosing the right keyword match type can make a noticeable difference in conversions and other metrics of your Google Ads. Broad match casts a wide net, phrase match strikes a balance, and exact match hones in on exact keywords. By understanding the nuances of each match type and strategically incorporating them into your Google Ads campaigns, you unlock the potential to reach the right audience and achieve advertising success.

To learn more about Google ads and keyword match types check out our blog.

Originally published . Last updated .


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