Google Ads: All Keyword match types explained


They are the bread and butter of Google Ads (and SEO).

They are original sources of your Ad revenue.

A high-quality keyword-rich Ad will convert more.


And result in a higher ROI.

But in Google Ads, only keywords will not help you achieve your goals.

Along with keywords, you will also need their match types.

And this combination is what delivers the maximum conversion.

In this post, I’ll go through,

All the keyword match types with their updates.

When you should use and avoid them.

To begin,

In brief,

How does Google Ads work?

Users search on Google Search.

If the keyword searched matches your Ad eligibility,

Your Ad shows up on the Search Result page.

Users click on the Ad.

And hopefully, convert.

So where do these keyword match types fit in?

These match types are basically the rules that you set while creating your Ads.

To control when your Ad should show up.

And when they should not.

In other words, they determine how the platform decides which ads will show for which searches.

Here are all the match types.

All keyword match

Let’s  start with

Google Ads Keywords Broad match

broad match

This is the default setting of keywords (in Google and Bing).

As in, if you do not set any rules or specify the match type, this will be implemented.

Broad match means your Ad will be eligible to show for the widest range of the keyword variation of the keyword you have chosen.

What does this mean?


You have added “Football shoes” as your keyword.

Your Ad will be eligible to show up if the user searches for not only those terms but also other related terms like

-football dress

-football stadium

-football players

-sports shoes

-running shoes

-football sneakers

-football bag

-jogging shoes

-formal shoes

-football tickets

These are only a few examples with only 2 words.

Your Ad could show up for all the singular and plural forms, misspellings and other synonyms of the chosen keyword like

-Tennis shoes

-Football shoe

-Footbal shoes

-Footbowl shoe

There is no limit here.

You see the impact of broad match?

In the recent years, Google has updated the range even higher.

So your Ad is eligible to appear for even more related keywords.

Broad match: Pros & Cons

So what is the advantage of using Broad match?

Traffic increase

That is quite obvious isn’t it?

If there are no rules set, no caps set, your Ad will show up the maximum number of times.

Hence your traffic increases.

But will the traffic be relevant?

Not exactly. But you will increase your…

Brand awareness

Broad match is the best match type to increase your brand reach.

Again obvious.

Since your Ad could show up for pretty much everything related to the chosen keyword.

New keyword discovery

Broad match is also the best (but expensive) way to discover new keywords.

Those that you may have missed or were not aware of.

Once your Ad is live, you need to monitor it closely.

As a lot of keywords will start pouring in.

Those that are relevant and those that are not.

You can go through the list.

And add the new relevant keywords to your Ads.

And remove the irrelevant ones.

How to do that?

I’ll explain in the last part – Negative keywords section.

What are the disadvantages of Broad match?

Irrelevant traffic

As I mentioned before, you will get traffic but even your bounce rate would also be high.

As a considerable chunk of traffic would not convert.

Higher investment

More clicks mean more amount spent.

Hence your budget shoots up with this match type.


When should you use a Broad match?

If you have a lot of budget, more generic keywords and your objective is branding.

When should you not use Broad match?

On a limited budget, with targeted keywords with a specific objective.


People usually warn you against using this match type.

However, inherently there isn’t anything wrong with using Broad match.

They can help you expand your campaign reach.

Only you will be reaching out to ALL of them, not just the relevant ones.

It is just conceptually assumed that you do not want to spend more on your Ads and are aiming for a positive ROI.

Google Ads Keywords Broad Match modifier

broad match modifier

I mentioned before that Broad match has no rules, no caps.

The modifier is the cap.

A small rule that helps you control your Broad match Ads.

Broad Match modifier symbol is



Your keyword is “Football shoes” as before.

You have an idea of what kinds of keywords your Ads will show up under the Broad match.

(You can use Keyword planner and/or Google trends to get a good list)

But when you add a modifier in the match type,

Your Ad-keyword relevancy goes up a notch.


Now your Ad will show up for more relevant keywords.

How to opt for Broad match modifier match type?

Quite simple.

Add “+” to your keywords to convert the match type to modifier.


+Football +shoes

Once you do that, your Ad will show up for queries like,

-Football shoes for men

-Football shoes for women

-Best football shoes

-Shoes for football

-Kids shoes for football

-Shoes to wear for a football match

Do you see the difference in keywords here?

As compared to the Broad match type?

They are more relevant now.

You can experiment with the modifier in your keywords.

Say, your keywords are

-Football shoes for men

You can add modifiers to all or any of the keywords like

1.+Football +shoes +for +men

2.+football +shoes for +men

3.+football shoes +for +men

4.Football +shoes for +men

What’s the difference in all these?

When you add “+” before a word, it basically means that that word should be present in the keyword search.

Irrespective of relevancy or the number of keywords in the query.

Now if you add that to all your keywords, it means that all the keywords should be present in the search query.

But in any order.

In the above example 1,

Your Ad will appear for the queries like

-Superb football shoes for men

-Football shoes for men that are durable

How to design football shoes for men?

Example 2

Your Ad will appear for

-Famous Football shoes by men

Example 3

Your Ads are eligible for

-Football socks for men

-Best football place for men

Example 4

-Tennis shoes by men

Hope you get the impact of modifier.

It is basically used to narrow down your Ad appearance and increase relevancy slightly.

Google Ads Keywords Phrase Match

phrase match

As the term indicates, the match or the lock here is for a phrase.

Phrase match symbol is

“ ”

So when you add keywords to your Ad, your insert the above symbol around the keyword.

Like “football shoes”, “Dog food”, etc.

What’s the impact of this?

Your Ad will now appear ONLY if the above keywords in the phrase are present in the query IN THE SAME ORDER TOGETHER.

If your keyword is “dog food”,

Your Ad will appear for

-Famous dog food

-Best dog food

-Dog food for Labradors

-Which is the cheapest dog food?

If your keyword is “cheapest burger in New York”,

Your Ad will appear for

-Cheapest burger in New York

-Which is the cheapest burger in New York

-Where is the cheapest burger in New York

-Are you sure that the cheapest burger in New York is in Queens?

Your Ad will not appear for the below:

-Best burger in New York

-Is New York the best place for cheapest burger?

Important Google Update

Recently Google made an update to Phrase match also.

They will now display your add for closely related queries for Phrase match

Google calls this as VARIANTS.

I have run Google Ads.

I’ve set all my keywords to Phrase Match.

I believe I’ve got good results.

Check out the performance of some of my campaigns.

phrase match campaigns

Google Ads Keywords Phrase Match Modifier

phrase match modifier

Phrase Match Modifier or PMM is a recent  update from Google.

What is this?

This means you can now combine Broad match and Phrase Match for a better set of related query targeting.

Phrase Match Modifier symbol is

. (dot)

How do you assign it?

Say your keyword is “cat food”.

Your PMM will be

You can add a Broad match with this.



-Awesome cat food

-Superb cat food

You can also add Broad Match Modifier with this

-Best American cat food

Google Ads Keywords Exact Match Type

exact match

Again as the name indicates, the match here is only for exact.

Exact Match Type symbol is

[ ] (square brackets)

Say your keyword is [sports shoes].

Your Ad will show up only if the search query is – sports shoes – in that order with no other queries typed in.

As you would have guessed, the volume for such match type is quite less.

Least among all the match types, usually.

But it would have a high conversion.

As the user with those queries that will already be looking for some kind of lead action.

Google now also displays your Ad for Exact match variants as well.

Below ones for the campaigns I ran for Digidomain:

exact match variant

So when should you choose this match type?

Limited budget focussing on conversion and not volume.

Google Ads Keywords Negative Match

negative match


Say you have a website for Java training.

(Java would be the popular programming language).

You set up an Ad and run it.

Your Ad appears while users are searching.

But you see that your conversion is not as expected.

So you check the keywords for which your Ad was displayed.

You find the term  “Javascript” is present many times.

Why is this happening?

Because you have bid for “Java”.

And “Javascript ” has “Java” in it.

So you see, the same term but with a different meaning.

So you should make sure that your Ad does not pop up for “Javascript”.

“Javascript”, thus becomes a negative keyword for you.

Another example.

Say your Ad is on “dog food”.

You want to bid on the below,

“best dog food”

“affordable dog food”

But you do not want your Ad to appear for

“free dog food”.

So, “free” becomes a negative keyword.

There is a section in the Ads tool to add negative keywords.

negative keywords

You should add these there.

So, to sum up,

All keyword match types


You cannot just set up your Ads and ignore them.

Constant monitoring is required.

To identify opportunities for improvement.

Which would result in

– lower cost-per-click

– higher Ad quality

– higher Ad position


-higher ROI

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