What Match Types Should You Start with in a New PPC Account?

What Match Types Should You Start with in a New PPC Account?
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Brad Geddes

Last updated November 21, 2016


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Many businesses are confused as to how they should start and grow their PPC accounts. It often starts with choosing the correct match types for your keywords as you build out an account.

As a reminder, there are 4 match types:

Restrictive match types:

  1. Exact: Only show when the query is the same as your keyword
  2. Phrase: Show when your keyword is contained in the query
  3. Note: exact and phrase match can show for misspellings, singular, plural, and various stemming options.

Broad match types:

  1. Modified broad: Show an ad when the query closely matches your keywords; but the word order doesn’t matter.
  2. Broad: An ad can be displayed when a query somewhat matches your keywords.

 When we consider how these match types affect our account, what we’re really thinking about is control versus impressions.

If you want a lot of control to begin with, then exact match is great. If you want a lot of impressions, then usually modified broad (which is a great combination of control and impressions) is a great starting point.

For most people, this is a budget consideration. If you have a small budget, want to be very specific and then grow your budget with data, then exact and phrase are great starting places.

If you have a large budget, or you want to try everything and remove the underperforming items, then starting with modified broad or broad is a great choice.

What’s your language?

Broad match is often ‘too broad’ for many people. We see totally irrelevant queries show for broad match. It’s a nice match type to use when you want to see all the query volume possible; however, it’s often an underperforming match type – in English.

But outside of Latin based languages, broad match is very useful. For instance, in this account, we see search queries across languages:

No match type outside of broad can match across languages. If you are advertising in countries where there are many multi-lingual queries, then it can be useful to use some broad match as its very broad in English, but not nearly so in other languages.

What’s your geographic size?

If you are advertising to a country or multiple countries, then there’s often sufficient search volume to get impressions using exact and phrase match. However, if you are advertising to a very small geography, such as a single city, then sometimes your keywords will be marked as ‘low search volume’ and won’t show until they receive at least 30 impressions a month.

In these cases, you need to use broader match types to have your ads consistently show.

The smaller your geography, the more the need you’ll have to use broader match types.

How large is the search volume in your industry?

If you are in a very niche industry that does not have a lot of search volume, you once again need to use some modified broad or broad match just to have your ads displayed.

If you are in an industry that has a tremendous amount of search volume, then you can start with more restrictive match types if you’d like to, but you’re not required to do so.

Overall Starting Match Types

When you’re first building an account, think about volume versus control.

If you want control, then you’ll want to start with a lot of exact match. Then consider the search volume and geography. If they are small, then you’ll have to move to at least modified broad match to make sure your ads are consistently displaying.  If the search volume and geographic size is large, then you can continue to build your account with exact and phrase match.

If you want a lot of impressions, then you can start with modified broad match as it offers a middle ground between impression and control. However, if your target market crosses languages or the account is not in English, then starting with broad match can be useful.

Before you build your account, consider:

  • Budget
  • Desire for control
  • Geographic size
  • Languages
  • Overall search volume of your keywords

By examining these factors, it should be easy to pick a match type that will offer you what you need in your initial account build. Then once you start to receive data, you can start optimizing your match types, keyword expansion, and negative keywords based upon the story the data tells you.

About the Author

Brad Geddes is the author of "Advanced Google AdWords", and founder of Certified Knowledge, an online source where the Paid Search community comes together for PPC training, tools, and advice. Brad makes it his mission to share his expertise in Paid Search with online marketers so they can build successful online campaigns that generate business. He frequently writes columns for Search Engine Land, co-moderates the AdWords forum on Webmaster World, has spoken at more than 35 conferences, and has led more than 60 AdWords seminars.


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