Skip to content

After Exact Match, Which Match Type Should I Use?


Exact match is what we all think of as the best it can get.

When a searcher clicks on your ad when they’ve searched exactly what you wanted, of course you have an upper hand!

They are looking for exactly what you wanted them to.

You know exactly what they want and you’re there to provide it.

So what’s the problem?

Not everyone is so lucky.

Most advertisers in AdWords won’t have a huge number of exact match opportunities. They’re much more likely to be relying on broader match types to show ads in their niche or for similar queries.

So first off, what are the choices?

Phrase Match

In AdWords you’ll see phrase match keywords written in quotation marks.

For example, “machinery suppliers”

Phrase match will trigger an ad which includes all words in the same order but can include different keywords before or after it.

For example, an ad could be triggered for the following phrases:

  • Best machinery suppliers
  • Machinery suppliers Aberdeen
  • Machinery suppliers to avoid

Broad Match

In AdWords, broad match phrases are written with no punctuation surrounding them.

For example, machinery suppliers

Broad match would trigger an ad which includes any word or synonym in any order.

For example, an ad could be triggered for:

  • Machine company
  • Machine learning
  • Make up company

Broad Match Modifier

A broad match modifier includes a “+” symbol in front of any word you want to be included in the phrase which triggers your ad.

An ad will trigger if the phrase includes the word with a “+” and a synonym of the other word.

For example, +machinery suppliers could trigger an ad for the following phrases:

  • Machinery company
  • Companies that make machinery
  • How to supply machinery

So which match type is the best?

Now, if exact match is too specific and drives little volume – which of the above do you choose?

Search Engine Land conducted some research which found that there is little difference in the conversion rate for the remaining match types.

Which is best will likely depend on what you’re bidding on.

If the phrase you’re bidding has a common alternative meaning when the words are in a slightly different order, then phrase match could prove useful to you.

To find out what’s best for you, there’s a few things you need to be thinking about:

  • Check your bids for exact match
    Are you really doing as much as you can to get to those highly sought after exact match phrases? You might be bidding too low to appear – remember the conversion rate for this is likely to be particularly high.
  • Be specific
    Whichever match type you choose, try to keep it nice and tight. As you broaden your reach, you risk getting (and paying for) irrelevant traffic.
  • Check your Search Terms Report
    Keep up to date with the phrases you’re paying for. This will indicate to you whether you have a problem – and give you ideas of negative keywords too.
  • Keep adding negative keywords
    As soon as you move away from exact match, you need to be using negative keywords to keep your account clean. Not sure what to add? Try our negative keyword lists.


More blogs from the PPC Geeks

How does your PPC stack up?

Get your free, human review of your Ads performance today.