When you are setting up your paid search campaigns you have to decide how you want the keywords to be matched to the search query.  We have talked a lot about “Searcher Intent” and trying to match your ads and landing pages to match the interest of the searcher.  One of the steps in this process it to ease or tighten the lens of your keywords using match types.

There are currently 4 key match types that are essentially the same across the search engines that allow you to “match” keyword variations to the query used by the searcher.

Exact match keywords have the narrowest reach and are triggered when the searcher’s terms exactly match the search phrase being bid upon.  In the good ole days of search no other words can appear in the user’s search query and it has to match the order exactly.   This gives you the greatest precision and often the lowest cost per click. Ex: [peach vodka] or [12 year old scotch].  However, since September 2014 true “exact match” has gone away and Google lumps in “Close Variants.”  Google’s “close variants” allows misspellings and very close variations of the keywords to be shown.  While a great feature if you want those variations, for those that want precision you have no option except to use negative keywords.   

Phrase match keywords will be triggered when a user’s search query contains the exact phrase that is being bid upon in the exact word order.  Other words and phrases can appear before or after the keyword phrase but NOT within the phrase. Ex: “Absolut Peach Vodka” or “Chivas 12 year old whisky

Broad Modified Match (BMM) keywords will be triggered when a user’s search query contains the words used in the keyword phrase in ANY order but MUST contain all of the designated phrase elements. Other words and phrases can appear before, after, OR within the phrase.   Ex: “Absolut +peach +vodka” or “Absolut +Peach Flavored + Vodkawill all trigger the ads, whereAbsolut Vodka will not trigger the ads.

Broad match keywords have the broadest reach.  They will be triggered when the system detects that the keyword is contained in the phrase or is SIMILAR to the users search query.  The search query doesn’t need to contain any of the words or phrases that were used in the keyword.   Ex: “vodka” or event “alcoholwill trigger the ads.

Negative match keywords are used to exclude your ad from serving when a particular word or phrase is included in the user’s search query.  If a search query contains one of your negative keywords, your ad will not serve.  Ex: “-cheap vodkaas Absolut would not want their ad shown for “cheap.

Note:  It is not uncommon to have twice as many negative words as normal keywords. The more non-relevant keywords you can exclude from your campaign the more money you will save on non-relevant clicks. Your agency may tell you that it is still an exposure to your message but if the user clicks away immediately, that has a negative impact on your quality score and will increase your costs.