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Understanding Adwords Match Types Tutorial

Welcome to the sixth lesson ‘Understanding Match Types’ of PPC Advertising Tutorial which is a part of Advanced Pay Per Click (PPC) Certification Course offered by Simplilearn. In this lesson, we're going to look at keyword match types.

Let us look at the objectives of this lesson first.


After completing this lesson, you will learn to:

  • Describe exact match, phrase match, modified broad match, and broad match

  • Explain how AdWords match types play a major role in triggering ads to be displayed

  • Organize AdWords match types for effective budgeting

  • Evaluate whether a match type is appropriate for a specific situation

Before looking into AdWords match types, let us first understand what search query is.

Search Query

Now just as a reminder, an A search query is what a user types into a search engine. Your keyword is what you put into your paid search account.

The purpose of AdWords match types is to determine how closely related your keywords must be to the search query before your ad can be displayed.

The four types of the search query are:

  • Exact Match

  • Phrase Match

  • Broad Match

  • Modified Broad Match

In the next section, we will look in detail the four AdWords match types.

Let us first start with Exact Match.

Exact Match

The most restrictive match type is known as an exact match. This is often displayed in brackets, and in some engines, you may have a drop down box to pick the match type and your search query must match the keyword.

Now, it must match the word, but you can show for things like misspellings, singulars, plurals and different stemming. So, let's look at some examples.

Exact Match - Example

Let's say we have the exact match keyword in our account: brew coffee makers. We have a list of queries. The question is, did this query make your ad show?

So, if we have the query Brew Coffee Makers, yes it's going to show is the exact word. If we have Brewing Coffee Makers, It's just a stemming variation your ad can show. If we have brew coffee maker, the word coffee is misspelled.

You can also show cause you can show for misspellings in singular and plural words. If we have coffee makers brew It's a different word ordering. So, our keyword is not going to trigger the ad.

If we have black brew coffee makers, there's an additional word in the search query than our keyword. We're not going to show in that case.

So, an exact match is the most restricted match type, where the query has to match your keyword. But you can show for slight variations of stemming, plural, singular, so forth.

Let us now discuss Phrase Match.

Phrase Match

The second most restrictive match type is known as phrase match. This is often displayed in quotes. The search query must contain the keyword in that same order. But there can be additional words before or after the query.

Phrase Match is just like the exact match; your words can show if the query is just a misspelling or singular plural different stemming.

Phrase Match - Example

Let's take the same keyword, Brew Coffee Makers, but let's put it in phrase match, in quotes.

So if we ask did the query trigger this ad?  So the queries which trigger the ad can be:

  • Brew Coffee Makers - It's the exact word, your ad does the show.

  • Brewing Coffee Makers - It's just a stem you can also show.

  • Brew Cofee Maker-. A misspelling of Coffee, you can show.

Exact match, words, and phrase match, those can all show the same way. Where the phrase match is different, is there can be words before or after. But if we take a word like Coffee Makers that Brew, the word order is different, you're not going to show.

For a query like, Black Brew Coffee Makers, there's an additional word, Black, which is in the query but not in our keyword. But because the rest of the query contains our words in the same order, Brew, Coffee, Makers, then we can show for that particular query.

Now this formatting of brackets and quotation marks, they're just in your account. The user doesn't have to search with these particular operators in the actual formatting of their query.

Next, let us understand Broad Match.

Broad Match

So Broad Match is the most liberal of the matching queries. This is often displayed without any formatting and the search query must be somewhat related to your keyword. You can again, still show for misspelling, singular plurals, and related words.

Broad Match - Example

Let us consider the same example, Brew Coffee Makers.

We have a list of queries which we say trigger our ad are:

  • Brew Coffee Makers, it's the exact word, it can show.

  • Brewing Coffee Makers, it's a stemming, it can show.

  • Brew Cofee misspelled maker, yes it can show.

Now where Broad Match is tough sometimes is a word like the coffee pot. Coffee maker or coffee pot, they're similar, even though the word brew is not in that query, it's likely to show as it's related to the query.

Where like, Starbucks coffee, you might show, you might not; it's related. Starbucks sells brew coffee makers, it's coffee, Starbucks is highly relevant to the terms coffee, and this is where Broad Match is very difficult.

Because an engine can kind of turn the dial more liberal or more restrictive to see how they're doing from advertisers standpoint and monetary standpoint and so with Broad Match.

You can never say this query will show for this keyword when you get into somewhat related words such as Coffee pot or Starbucks coffee.

Therefore examining search queries is so important to the broad match is often what advertisers believe are related and search engines believe are related, are not always the same thing.

Let us now look into the fourth type of match, Modified Broad Match.

Modified Broad Match

Now, to have the advantage of Broad Match, though, is that the word orderings don't matter. That's one of the real advantages. But Broad Match can be pretty liberal. So, we have what's also known as modified Broad Match.

Now, this is still known in accounts as BrMatch itself. If you see a drop-down list of AdWords match types, you'll still be picking Broad Match as that match type.

Within that match type, you can add a plus symbol before one or more of the keywords in a keyword phrase that you want to be highly related to the query and then, words without that plus symbol will be considered Broad Match.

We'll walk through some examples because this is a bit confusing at first. But from our example standpoint, if we say the keyword is plus brew plus coffee plus makers, what we're saying is that the query has to have something highly related to each of those words in the query. But there can still be more words in the query that we have.

So, if we take a word like brew coffee makers, it's exact word, it's going to show. If we say black coffee makers, the word brew is not in that query. We're probably not going to show.  Again, you can't use absolutes always with search engines. But most likely would not show for that.

If it were true Broad Match, we probably would show for black coffee maker query with the Broad Match word brew coffee makers. With modified Broad Match would probably not show. We would show all the words which are in that query.

The different order doesn't matter with Broad Match types. But a word like a coffee pot, we're not going to show for modified Broad Match. Starbucks coffee we're not going to show. So, Broad Match types have this advantage that the word orderings don't matter.

Broad Match can be liberal in it's showing, modified based upon where you put those plus symbols. That phrase determines how closely relevant, or how far away, that query has to be to that modified broad keyword.

Modified broad shows when the query's highly related to your word, assuming you used plus symbols in most of the query or most of your keyword. But again, the word doesn't matter; it's a great match type to start with.

It's a good middle ground between control and impressions. But in both cases, broad or modified broad, the word ordering of the query no longer matters. So, just as a reminder, the search query is what the user typed into an engine that made your ad show.

So then, what you want to look for queries to words you want to remove or queries are shown for that aren't in your account that you want to add, to then control these over time.

If you want amazing control, an exact match is wonderful, but it's not going to show for any expansion of words. Modified broad is a great one to start with because work orders don't matter, but you might not want to use it on all your words.

So, you might even have scenarios where you've got words that are two-word combinations, high search volume; you only use exact match on them. When there are other words that have lower search volumes but are more related to your business, use a modified broad match.

So every word in your account doesn't even have to have the same match set, you can have some high volume words exact match. Modified broad is great for long tail words.

As you do your keyword research and you structure your ad groups, keep in mind, the match types you want to use, whether it's one or multiple for those keywords.

Based upon your budgets, the user intents, where the user is in the buying funnel so that you can control your budget and make sure that you're only spending your budget on words that are going to help you reach your overall marketing goals.

While making sure you're not missing big parts of the keyword, you never stop there because you were too restrictive in your match types. So, if you want to control the exact match, lots and lots of impressions broad match.

Modify broad for most companies is a great starting place but controlling match types helps you control budgets, while still getting lots of good conversions in your account. So, you've got a nice profitable paid search account to work within your marketing efforts.

Modified Broad Example: Cake

Let's look at some examples. So take an account that has the word, wedding cake in it Broad Matched. Unfortunately, the top search query triggering their ad is how to make a Dora Cupcake.

These aren't highly related terms, but from the search engine standpoint, but close enough that they were showing for this term. They were also showing things like Wholesale Wedding Supplies. So, that's not good matches.

In Broad Match you can show a lot. It's great to do research and find a universe of words out there you might not have. But if you want to control costs and focus on conversions, Broad Match can be pretty difficult.

Let's look at how we could do Modified Broad Match in some example queries we could show for. So, if we put in our account the keyword +Wedding and then the word Cake. What we're saying now is the word Wedding matters, right, the event type, but the pastry type, cake, don't.

So we might show things like Wedding Cupcakes, Wedding Cake, the actual query.

How to make Wedding Cupcakes, red velvet wedding cake. But the word Wedding is in our query or something very closely related like we could be in our query.

Now if instead, we said, we don't care about the event type. Wedding, Broad Matched +Cake.

The word Cake is Modified Broad Match.

Now we're saying the even doesn't matter but the pastry type does. So we want it to show for a Wedding cake, Anniversary cake, How to bake a wedding cake and again, that word cake could be cakes, like a plural, you could have a misspelling in there.

But now we're matching to a pastry and not the events. We could use it for all the words, to say +Wedding +Cake. Now we're going to show for a Wedding cake, red wedding cake, how to bake wedding cakes, plural.

Compound words are difficult. Wedding cheesecake you usually show for compounds, but not all always.

Match Type Organization

You can have an ad group with every match type in it. What you want to do in those cases is make sure your exact match which is the highest user intent. What the user searched for, should be your highest CPC.

Your phrase match, a little lower, you're modified broad, a little lower and your broad match the lowest. So that when the user query is specific to your keyword, the most specific keyword shows in your account.

This keeps your stats cleaner so that your modified broad is not capturing exact match queries, and it makes your bidding better. So you can mix and match them in an ad group.

Another common organization is to do it by campaign types. Say here's our exact match works, they're in one campaign. Our phrase match, a different one and you've got to use negatives.

But it's a pretty easy organization and this way the exact match is going to be your best-converting word. Therefore, it's your highest budget outside of potentially brand items. Phrase match, you know the second most about what a user searched for.

Your second highest budget, and then modified broad would often remain manipulate your budget to hit any run rates or targets.

Which Adwords Match Types to Use?

So we think about which match type should be used. See, these are right and wrong answers. They're different ways of reaching users, and they have different attributes to them.

So for instance, when you think about your keywords, broad match is going to have more impressions inexact, but it's going to give you less control.

So the least amount of impressions but the most control is exact. So if you want every possible impression, you're going to use some broad match.

If you want a lot of control over when your ad is displayed, you're going to use a lot of exact matches.

Now, this also gets into spend and feedback by match type. So if you have a high budget, often you're going to get into phrase modified and broad match. If you want lots of query expansion, broad match is good.

Again, do you want to control or do you want impressions? Do you have a low budget or a high budget? This will help you determine, by thinking through these questions, which AdWords match types you want to use.

So if you're on a low budget you're probably going to start with exact maybe some phrase match gets some ideas of what's working and then expand to modify broad. Now if you have a low budget, but you're only advertising in a small city, then you might start with modified broad.

If you have a medium budget, you want to learn about what users are searching for, take a look at your keyword queries and then create ad groups as necessary or add more match types and control.

You'll often start with exact modified broad, and then you'll be adding phrase match as you get this data if you have a high budget but you want to control.

You might start with three of these exact phrase and modified broad match. Because that way you've got this combination of control. Wth modified broad, you can reach some pretty high budget limits.

If you have a high budget and you want to learn about users, first, see your stats everywhere, get a fast jump on your account and then take control once you get data. Then you'll often start with Modified Broad, maybe some Broad Match and then add Exact and Phrase over time.

So there's not right or wrong by match sites. It's all about control vs. impressions vs. budget items.

The most control is an exact match, the least amount of control is broadly matched. Modified broad is a great match type to start with as well in any circumstance because it gives you the ability to show for highly related queries but the word orderings don't matter for those queries.

The modifiers before and after the queries don't matter. So you can get a lot of data quickly and then decide what works well, you make an exact match.

We'll talk about negatives in a different video. But that stops your ad from showing if certain queries don't convert for you.


  • When you think about AdWords match types, first you've got restrictive match types. So, exact match shows, when the query is the same as your keyword. There can't be words before or after your keyword in the query. If there are, your ad won't show.

  • Phrase match shows when the query contains your words in the same order, but there can be something before or after, or both, your keyword. Now, both of these can show for singulars, plurals, misspellings, alternate stemming and so forth.

  • True broad match shows when the query is somewhat related to your keyword.

  • If you have a research budget, that's not our ROI budget; you're trying to learn about users, it's great. If you're controlling spend, you don't want to use a lot of broad matches.

  • Modified broad shows when the query's highly related to your word, assuming you used plus symbols in most of the query or most of your keyword.


This brings us to the end of this lesson. In the next lesson of this PPC Advertising Tutorial, we will discuss Managing Search Queries & Negative Keywords

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