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Google Ads: Keyword Match Types and Negatives: What Are They?

By June 29, 2020May 27th, 2021No Comments
Google Ads Keyword Match Type

Setting up the correct keyword match types within your Google Ad campaign is one of the most important factors for the success of your campaign. Not many people understand keywords or even release the difference between the type of keywords you can choose from.

Deciding on what keyword match types will vastly dictate how aggressive or conservative your keywords will be. Every business will have a different marketing objective so selecting the right match types for your goals are critical.

What Are The Keyword Match Types?

When creating a text ad in your PPC campaign, you have the option to select from a broad match, modified broad match, phrase match or exact match for your keyword match type. Each keyword match type has its own advantages and disadvantages, which is why having a clear objective in mind before even starting your ads is very important.

Broad Match Type

This is the default match type which generates the most clicks and impressions. While this may sound good, it isn’t necessarily a good thing. We always use broad match keywords with extreme caution and care since they have the ability to generate a lot of irrelevant traffic. Below is an example provided by Google:

Broad Match - Google Ads

When using broad type keywords, your ad is eligible to appear whenever a user’s search query includes any word in your key phrase, in any order. Like the example above shows, regardless of whether the user searches for ‘hats’ or women’s, this will trigger your ad.

Because broad matched ads are set up to reach the widest possible audience, many searches are highly likely to be irreverent and inputting negative keywords is necessary. We cover more on this later.

The main benefit of broad keywords is collecting a lot of data and traffic quickly, then optimising your campaigns from there—businesses who have larger budgets and are willing to exchange money for data benefit more from these keywords.

Modified Broad Match

Modified Broad Match is a more controlled targeting option. This allows you to lock in certain keywords, but they don’t need to be in the same order. This keyword match type still provides flexibility in reaching a wider audience but tightens down the search term queries based on the keywords you have selected using the ‘+’ symbol. Refer to below:

Broad Match Modifier - Google Ads

As you can see from the example if the search term includes ‘women’s and ‘hats’ it will show your ad. Regardless of what way around the person searches. Using the + symbol is telling Google, the search query must include those keywords.

This keyword match type still allows you to discover new ideas and reach a wide audience while controlling irrelevant search queries. While this is one of the most popular keyword match types, you still would need to pay attention to bad clicks and irrelevant queries through negative keywords. Being active and consistently optimising your campaign is still required.

If your keywords’ order is important, then we suggest not using the Modified Broad Match type and using the Phrase match type option. We will be discussing this one next.

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Phrase Match

Phrase Match is a more restrictive and controlled targeting option in the Google keyword match types. Your ad will only appear when a user queries your key phrase using your keywords in the exact order you enter them. There might be other words either before or after that phrase.

Phrase Match - Google Ads

From Google’s example, words before or after the search query still set off your ad and even close variations of the phrase. While this targeting is a lot more specific, you still need to be aware of the traffic you could be missing out on. For example, if someone searches ‘Women’s summer hats’ this would not trigger your ad since now the search query does not match the phrase of keywords you have selected.

While the search query can contain text before or after your keywords, you may be missing out on traffic with important keywords in the middle of the phrase.

Exact Match

Exact match types are the most specific and restrictive of the keyword match types. Only the exact keywords or close variations of them generate your ads to appear.

Exact Keyword Match - Google Ads

These are great for business owners who have a tighter budget and know the keywords that are highly likely to convert. However, this does restrict your reach and limits important search term query data which you can analyse.

Google has also updated the Exact Match keyword type, and keyword terms may also be triggered from synonyms, plurals or other variations of your keywords with the same intent.

Negative Keywords

Negative keywords are one of your biggest assets when optimising your Google Ad campaigns for success. Selecting the right keywords from the four keyword match types above is crucial. What is just as important is telling Google what keywords you DON’T want your ads to appear on.

This tool helps minimise wasted ad spend and keep your quality scores high, only showing ads to the most relevant and high purchasing intent people as possible.

Using the “-” symbol indicates a negative keyword. You can also set negative keywords up the same way as normal keyword match types. For example, you can set negatives for exact keywords, phrases and broad matches.

You are not always going to know every negative keyword to use. This is why one of the most popular ways of managing a profitable campaign is by analysing the search term queries, seeing which are irrelevant and adding them as you go.

If you want to read a more in-depth article on negative keywords, we would recommend checking out this article here.


There are many different strategies for using Google’s keyword match types. It always pays off to research your keywords beforehand and have a clear objective before running any ads. The Google Ad algorithm is becoming more advance and time consuming by the day. You now need the latest software and experts who do this day in and day out even to turn your Google Ad campaigns into profit-making machines.

If you would like to learn more about how Ambitious Digital can help implement a successful Google Ad strategy specifically for your business, then please book in a free 30-minute strategy call with one of our marketing experts today!

These calls are limited, and we can only take on a small number of clients each month. If you desire to start running Google Ads or even need help with your existing campaigns, we want to meet you.

Book in a call now.

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