| Read time 13 min read

What are the Keyword Match Types in Google Ads?

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What are the Keyword Match Types in Google Ads?

Read time 13 min read
Google ads match types

We can set-up and optimize your Google Ads for you but let’s also test your website’s SEO potential! While Diib helps 1000s of businesses grow with Google Ads management, Diib is also one of the best SEO tools in the world and uses the power of big data to help you quickly and easily increase your free organic traffic and rankings. Diib will even let you know if you already deserve to rank higher for certain keywords.


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Google Adwords is a fantastic advertisement network full of updated features and tools. If you have used the platform for a while, you probably have noticed numerous setting options available. It even allows you to program how your ads get triggered by certain words. You might be asking what the keyword match type stands for. These are limiting factors that help you set up specific keywords for your ads. Additionally, they help you control how you want algorithms to interpret your selected keywords when placing your ads in user searches.

Note that Google is super smart and can quickly notice particular words similar to your keywords. Thus, it may display your promotional information in a whole range of related terms. When you add the main phrases, you might notice several clicks in your ads after a short period. However, most of them may result in irrelevant impressions, with no conversions, and you already spent a lot of money for the clicks. The problem is the default way in which your ads appear.

Therefore, you need to pick the right tools that will help choose a keyword that directly relates to your target group. With the keyword match types tool, you can control how aggressive or restrictive you wish your ads to appear in search results. The guide below outlines the four Google ads match types 2021, each containing a specific purpose to help you choose one that suits you best.

Broad Match

Broad match – Google ads is the most common type that allows Google to show your ads based on an extensive range of keywords. It covers synonyms, related searches, and other relevant variations. As a result, it gives your ads the capability to appear in any searches containing your word. For instance, while using the keyword ‘running shoes,’ your ad can emerge in searches dealing with ‘men’s running shoes’ or ‘best running shoes.’ For example:

Google ads match types

It’s a useful tool in identifying keywords, especially if you wish to create a brand impression. It would be wise to use it strictly whereby you bid lower and review the search terms regularly. It will help you generate numerous clicks and even reveal other relevant phrases. Additionally, it works well when you have a small list to begin with, which you wish to expand with time.

If you are looking for maximum exposure in your advertising efforts, then it is the ideal option. Besides, if you have a wide range of products or services, this option will highly benefit you. For example, if you deal with microwaves, blenders, and ovens, a user searching for kitchen appliances will easily spot your ads. It might generate sales even if that wasn’t the exact item the user was looking for initially.

Even better, if an ad fails to receive clicks for a more extended period, Google stops displaying the advertisements for that specific keyword. Thus, it helps reduce your clicks cost in underperforming phrases so that you concentrate on those keywords that work.

For a beginner in PCC campaigns, broad match – Google ads will help figure out what key phrases work best for your business. However, you may want to narrow down your targeting as your business grows. It’s worth noting that having too many keywords can be both a bad or good thing depending on different campaign goals.

With the broad match, you can display ads based on irrelevant phrases, which may affect your PPC budget. Therefore, you stand a risk of paying for ads shown on unrelated search topics, leading to a higher advertisement cost with a lower ROI. It’s thus unsuitable if you wish to maximize returns from your campaigns.

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Benefits Of Broad Match Types

  • This Adwords match type strategy guarantees an expansive reach.
  • It’s a great time-saver in researching relevant keywords.
  • It benefits those with limited time in creating in-depth keywords lists.


  • It isn’t easy to maintain a high-quality score with this match type.
  • It requires you to exclude a lot of keywords and control the results continually.
  • You might accrue wasted spend on clicks that will never convert.

Using Negative Keywords With Broad Match

You can use negative keyword match types to control and block unwanted search results. Merely, it restricts Google from displaying your ads in relation to the restricted phrase. You can even rule out any synonyms or plurals if you wish to exclude them from your targeting. To achieve this, place a negative sign in front of the keywords. Here is better explanation of negative keywords:

Google ads match types

(Image credit: metrictheory)

It helps refine your targeting and improve your returns on investments. Broad match negative keywords will limit your search while at the same time blocking a vast amount of irrelevant traffic.

Broad Match Modifier Keywords

The keyword match types tool provides the second-best extensive targeting of your Google ads. However, it helps create a narrower targeting than the broad match. Please use the plus sign to denote broad match modifier keywords. For instance, +dress, +women or +roofing +company. Remember to include spaces after a single word but not after the plus sign.

By locking the key phrase with the + parameter, you are merely telling Google that your ad should only appear for search queries that contain that specific term. This type also allows your ad to appear in searches related to your keywords, including singular, plural forms, additions, and abbreviations of the key phrase. For example:

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Google ads match types

(Image credit: Search Engine Land)

The main difference with a broad match is that your ads only appear in searches related to a close variant of your keywords. As a result, it narrows the eligibility and the number of searches that can trigger your ads. For example, if you use the keyword +kids +jeans, your ads will appear for search terms like ‘jeans kids,’ ‘jeans for kids, ‘kid’s jeans’ or ‘kid’s designer jeans. Therefore it still allows you to reach out to a vast pool of prospects, with better control of who sees your ads. For example:

It’s a useful option, especially if you wish to pinpoint a specific item or service. You can target terms without putting more emphasis on the keyword order. For instance, if you sell red cowboy hats, you can still phrase it as cowboy red hats.

Further, it’s a safer option that can help generate a higher click-through rate. You can easily segment your target customers while still maintaining high impression volumes. Thus, it’s a valuable option when you want to build exposure for your brand and your company’s capabilities.

It suits you best if you are looking forward to generating more targeted traffic at a controlled budget. Though you might record a lower impression, you will attract better and more quality traffic than in the broad match.

Benefits Of Modified Broad Match Type

  • It increases traffic relevancy with better click-through rates and the highest conversion potentials.
  • It guarantees a considerable broad reach.
  • It allows your ads to trigger close variations, which saves you on negative keyword management.
  • It gives you the freedom to choose the exact terms you wish to include in your search queries.


  • By excluding synonyms and related searches, it may reduce your impression share.
  • You might experience some formatting issues when moving these Google ads match types into an excel document. As a result, it might impact your keyword’s accuracy.
  • It requires you to research searched terms to improve your list continually.

Phrase Match Keywords

Using the phrase match keyword in your Adwords match type strategy gives you a higher level of control. Google only triggers your ads when a search query contains the exact phrase you choose in the specified order or a close variant. It covers searches with additional terms before or after your preferred sentence. However, it doesn’t include searches with other words in the middle of the key phrase. For instance, if your keyword is’ pet supplies,’ your ad appears for searches like the best pet supplies, discounted pest supplies, or pet supplies wholesale. Here is a chart with some examples:

Google ads match types

(Image credit: Search Engine Land)

It thus allows you to be more specific about the search queries you wish to serve your ads. Still, it has the potential to appear in a considerable variety of searches. However, you will record a less impression share compared to the modified broad type. It makes up for this with better visitor quality since the quoted phrase appears boldly in the ad copy. The more prominent and attractive the ad appears, the more clicks it is likely to generate. Moreover, it will help boost your conversion rates since by the time a customer clicks on the ads, he already has an interest in your brand.

This keyword match type tool works best for a campaign that requires a better matching structure that is less restrictive. While running highly targeted promotions focused on a smaller audience, then the phrase match keyword is ideal. It allows you to create ad copy and multiple offers tailored to a particular group, resulting in a more significant pay per click campaign.

Additionally, the phrase match appears less susceptible to irrelevant searches. You will still benefit from a broad audience base that your phrase may attract, creating an opportunity for irrelevant traffic. However, if your main goal is brand awareness, or if you have an extensive list of keywords, you may want to try out another option since this type has a limited reach. Although phrase match may not help drive as much traffic as broad match, it generates more quality traffic, with higher converting chances. It makes your ads more targeted to your niche so that you make more reasonable use of your ad budget.

Benefits Of Phrase Match

  • It narrows down the focus of your campaign, which attracts more qualified users and eliminates irrelevant traffic.
  • It boosts your click-through rates, which translates to higher conversion rates.


  • Since these terms offer a better return on investment, it’s a more expensive option.
  • It’s challenging to optimize your landing pages and ad copy for maximum results while dealing with smaller several groups of users.

Negative Phrase Match Keywords

You can use phrase negative keyword match types to get better control over when search results should trigger your ads. It helps to rule out any phrases with additional terms that appear irrelevant to your business.

While using the phrase match type in Google ads, remember to use quotation marks to denote your keyword phrase. For instance, if you deal with ‘roof repair,’ you may restrict searches like ‘floor and roof repair near me.’

Exact Match Keywords

It’s the final keyword match type tool that focuses entirely on a specific keyword to trigger your ads. Therefore, Google will only show your ad on searches related to the particular term or a close variant with the same intent. Further, it covers words containing plural, abbreviations, stemming, or synonyms of the key phrase. It works best, especially if you have a highly profitable key phrase that you want to focus on without wasting a lot of money with other irrelevant terms. This is an example of exact match keywords:

Google ads match types

(Image credit: Search Engine Land)

It’s the most restrictive form of Google ads match types 2021, which gives you great control to determine when your ads show. Hence, any user who clicks on your ads is most likely interested in your products or services. Consequently, it will help reduce unnecessary traffic and unwanted costs resulting in better returns. For instance, if your key phrase is a blue umbrella, your ads will appear for blue umbrellas instead of searches like buying an umbrella.

This option suits you best if you have a limited budget or if you focus on targeted clicks. Google matches your ads with searchers looking for the exact product you offer, which boosts the likelihood of clicks and conversions. The more relevant your audience is, the more likely this option will pay in sales, subscription, or calls. Diib keyword research tool allows you to see user demographics and your specific keyword analytics, for example:

related keywords

However, it significantly reduces the traffic level in your ads, resulting in a smaller impression share. Additionally, you may miss out on some valuable keyword related traffic. It’s thus unsuitable for most large scale dealers unless you are in a well-known industry.

We hope that you found this article useful.

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  • It helps minimize wasted spend.
  • It gives you full control over the search terms you wish your ads to serve.
  • It generates highly qualified traffic, and each click you get may result in a new lead.
  • You will have a higher quality score than in other types.


  • It restricts you to precise targeting.
  • It’s difficult to include multiple relevant keyword phrases, resulting in a limited reach.

Negative Exact Match Keywords

You can use the negative keyword to eliminate any underperforming phrases. For this, you will need to add brackets around your negative keywords. For instance, if you deal with (men’s hoodies), you can eliminate words like (men’s coats).

Choosing The Right Keyword Match Type

It’s worth noting that each advertiser has different campaigns which dictate the keyword match type you can choose. To pick the right option, first, outline your precise goals and advertising strategy. You can then compare them with the outlined pros and cons in each Google ads match types to pick one that best suits you.

By looking at the previous keywords’ performance insights, you can get a rough idea of what option to consider. You can also choose to check through your competitors’ performance from certain match types to get ideas. The cost per click can also affect your choice based on your budgetary plans. Here is a good breakdown of the costs associated with this:

Google ads match types

Generally, use broad match keywords sparingly only if you have a huge budget, and your brand’s goal is to create awareness. Remember that your audience in this option has minimal conversion chances. On the other hand, if you have highly valuable main phrases, consider using the exact type to avoid spending on irrelevant search terms and reduce budget spillage.

Additionally, if your main aim is to narrow down irrelevance as you maintain a higher impression count, you can opt for a broad match modifier. It will also help you manage your long-tail keywords so that you don’t miss out on relevant search queries.

Further, if you want to restrict your ads to your business applicable terms without venturing into other territories, you can opt for the phrase match. You will, therefore, utilize your budget for highly qualified and relevant traffic. Even better, Google allows you to use various match types for the same campaign to refine your ads effectively.


Google ads can quickly use up your money if you fail to efficiently allocate your budget to high-converting audiences. Please remember that matching your keywords with the right search queries is vital. It helps drive the right traffic to your landing pages.

The above piece aims at answering your question on what does mean in keyword match type to give you a better understanding of the tools. Therefore, you should be in a position to pick the right option that balances better impression share with high conversions at a considerable budget.

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Match types are a set of rules that control which searches your ads can appear in. There are 4 different keyword match types in AdWords:

  • Broad Match
  • Broad Match Modifier
  • Phrase Match
  • Exact Match.

When you utilize the exact match phrase option, your ad will only show up to those people who search that exact phrase, nothing else. These impressions will be highly targeted, which will be more valuable than a broad match phrase.

Campaign types are centered around Google’s advertising networks: the Google Search Network, the Google Display Network, and the YouTube Network.

It is most definitely better to have a keyword in an exact phrase and broad match. It is cheaper to target exact match keywords compared to phrase match ones.

This number will depend largely on your budget, scope of campaign and target outcome. Targeting about 5 keywords, with a search volume of 100+, is recommended by industry leaders.


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Daniel Urmann

Author Bio:

Daniel Urmann is the co-founder of Diib.com. Over the past 17 years Daniel has helped thousands of business grow online through SEO, social media, and paid advertising. Today, Diib helps over 150,000 business globally grow online with their SaaS offerings. Daniel’s interest include SMB analytics, big data, predictive analytics, enterprise and SMB search engine optimization (SEO), CRO optimization, social media advertising, A/B testing, programatic and geo-targeting, PPC, and e-commerce. He holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) focused in Finance and E-commerce from Cornell University – S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management.


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