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What are PPC keyword match types and why do they matter?

Bidding on the right keywords

Keywords are the foundation of all your PPC campaigns. The results that appear when you do a search – whether organic or paid – are there because of their relevancy and keywords. If you want your ad to show up on SERP, then you have to bid on the right keywords.

To really succeed when it comes to PPC, you’ll need a data-driven keyword strategy in place. But the first and most important step is knowing which keywords are suited to a campaign, and what they mean.

Why is Keyword Match Type important?

As an experienced PPC marketer, you’ll leverage the different uses of various match types by aligning them to a campaign. Choosing the right keyword match type is a key step when forming your keyword selection.

Not only can it help you to match valuable customer searches, it can also eliminate those irrelevant matches that could otherwise waste your budget. Essentially, a solid keyword strategy will help you to focus your ad spend and have a better ROI.

Different Match Types

Generic keywords

Generic terms relate to products or services that are offered but are not searching for something specific. These are popular, broader search terms that have a high volume of search traffic. They are usually one or two words and can be competitive as it’s likely many brands are bidding on the same term.

Branded keywords 

Keywords which include a company name. These searches are users who are already showing high-intent, as they know which site they want to visit and probably have a specific goal.

Transactional keywords 

Keywords that have a purchase intent – in other words, keywords or phrases which users search for to find the services or product they want to use or buy. For example, “buy Adidas training shoes” or “Cheap plumbing services.” The user is clearly looking for something specific.

Long-tail keywords 

These are keywords that include more than 3 or 4 words (e.g., “Dress for wedding guest”). They are usually more transactional than other keyword types, meaning they tend to have a higher conversion rate. Because they are often very specific they tend to be lower volume, but are often highly valuable.

Informational keywords

These are keywords where people are searching for specific information about a particular topic. This could be anything from directions to a ‘how-to’ question.

This is an interesting space to play for brands, it’s higher up the funnel but can provide an opportunity to gain visibility at a very early stage of someone’s path to purchase.

Location keywords 

These are often used for home or mobile services – but are useful for any company who have a physical store or offer services to customer homes in a particular location.

The user can search a location or use their current location to find nearby services, for example, “Digital marketing agency in London” or “Marketing agency near me”.

Keyword Match Types

Keywords also have different match types – which will affect how it performs or behaves. There are four match types. The difference between them comes down to how restrictive you want Google to be when matching your ads to user searches.

In other words, you have the option of informing Google how specific a search must be to your keyword. We’ve outlined the four choices below, in order of least to most reach: 

Broad match 

Broad match is the default match type – Google will match your ad against the highest number of related queries. So, if you bid on the word “shoes”, your ads might be displayed when people search for phrases such as “Cheap shoes” or “Wedding shoes”. Your ads could also show for similar searches – for example, “footwear for weddings” or even “what to wear to a wedding.” 

The benefits

  • Can appear for relevant searches with spelling mistakes or keyword variations
  • Broad match keywords can often receive more impressions than other match types
  • User searches can bring long-tail keywords that are high-converting to your attention
  • You can discover keywords you may not have considered

The cons

  • More searches and clicks lead to higher costs.
  • You might be losing money as a result of irrelevant searches.
  • There’s a lack of control.

Phrase Match

With phrase match, Google will only display your ad when a user searches for your full phrase, and in the correct given order. Your ad can still appear if there are other words in the query before or after your keyword phrase. For example, “PPC” and “PPC in London”, would both be valid searches. Google recently announced that phrase match will be taking over BMM – you can read more on this here.

The benefits:

  • A higher level of control.
  • An effective way to display your PPC ad from a specific sentence – meaning a user is likely to be interested in your product or service when they find it. 
  • You’ll avoid more expansions and potential irrelevant searches. 
  • You reduce the chance of spending money on irrelevant clicks. 

The cons:

  • Your search volume will be reduced. 
  • More restrictive and could miss out on potential clicks and conversions. 
  • Less likely to discover new keywords

Exact Match 

Exact match doesn’t mean your a search needs to match word for word. Your ad could be displayed for a search using the same phrase or a close variant. Exact match is the most restrictive match type. To add a keyword, you use open and closed brackets, for example, [PPC agency London]. 

The benefits:

  • High level of control
  • Simplified keyword performance analysis
  • Ideal for monitoring high-converting keywords

The cons:

  • Lower search volume than other match types
  • Less opportunity to discover new keyword variations or long-tail keywords
  • Could miss ‘one time searches’

You can find out more information about our PPC services, or if you have any other questions, just get in touch.