Ep 2: Keyword Match Types Explained

keyword match podcast Jun 10, 2020


Today on Marketing in 10, we’re talking about one of the most basic yet most misunderstood aspects of running a successful PPC campaign. We’re going to talk all about match types and how to use them.

Hey, everybody. This is Jim. Hope you’re doing well. Today we’ve got a very important topic but one that a lot of people just completely get wrong, especially when you’re first starting your advertising campaigns. So today we’re talking about keyword match types. First of all, let’s talk about what is a match type. When you’re in a PPC campaign platform, such as Google Ads or Microsoft Advertising, when you choose a keyword, the match type is how people are matched to that keyword when they’re doing keyword searches. I’ve always found the best way to talk about match types is to use an example, and the example that I like to use for this is selling shoes.

Say you’re a brand new shoe retail brand, and you’re looking for people to buy your running shoes, so you’re focused on running shoes. So let’s start with the most basic match type, which is called broad match. In something like Google Ads, broad match is essentially like bidding on topics. It’s not necessarily like bidding on exact keywords, because Google can interpret the keywords that you enter very broadly. Going back to the running shoes example from earlier, if you were to put broad match keyword “running shoes” in Google Ads, you might get matched for a wide variety of search terms, so things like men’s running shoes, women’s running shoes, kids’ running shoes, kids’ athletic shoes, men’s blue leather running shoes, men’s running sneakers, all different variations. As long as it’s remotely relevant to the shoes topic, there’s a good chance that you could match for that.

So you have very little control over what you’re actually matching to, so that’s why I generally recommend that for most businesses, you don’t really want to use broad match in your ad campaigns. It leaves a little bit too much to chance. There are some instances where maybe you’re in an industry that has very, very small volume, very niche e-commerce products that maybe there’s not a market for yet, so people don’t necessarily know to search for it, so market-making type of opportunities. Those kind of situations you might want to consider running broad match a little bit more, but for the vast majority of advertisers, you want to avoid that as much as possible.

The next match type, and this is the one that I think is the sweet spot for most advertisers, so getting a little bit tighter in focus from broad match, the next one is called modified broad match. Okay, so modified broad match, the way you use it is in your keywords, you’re going to put the plus sign in front of your keywords. So if your keyword is “running shoes,” you’ll want to put “+running +shoes” as your keyword. And what that does is it tells Google that, “Okay, I want to make sure that the search queries that I get matched to include both running and include shoes.” So in men’s running shoes, women’s running shoes, blue running shoes, those are all valid, but someone searching for men’s shoes will not match women’s shoes, will not match men’s running, women running. It has to have “running” and “shoes” for that search query to match to your account. That gives you much more control than what you get over broad match, but it’s fairly broad enough that you can cover all of your bases.

So for the vast majority of advertisers, you’re not going to know every single way that people are going to search for your product or service, so you want to leave a little bit of room there for interpretation. The order of keywords don’t really matter. So if someone searches for “running shoes” or someone searches for “shoes for running,” both of those will match in a modified broad match. So that’s an important distinction between the next match type, which is called phrase match.

So in phrase match, the order matters. So if your keyword was “running shoes,” men’s running shoes would match, but men’s shoes running would not match, so it’s a little bit narrower focus than the modified broad match that we just talked about. So phrase match is denoted by quotation marks in Google Ads. You would put in quotation marks “running shoes,” and you would have a phrase match keyword. Phrase match works well in a lot of circumstances, so it’s a little bit more specific than modified broad match and doesn’t give you quite the flexibility. So if you have a slightly better feel for what kinds of search terms your customers are using, then feel free to move over to phrase match and test out that.

So the last match type is the most specific one, and that’s called exact match, which is when you put your keyword in brackets. So exact match is just what it sounds like. You’re only going to match to people searching for exactly the search terms that you have in your keyword. So if your keyword is “running shoes,” then only people searching for exactly running shoes will match. So men’s running shoes will not match, women’s running shoes will not match. Only running shoes. So that one is very specific, and if you have keywords that are very high volume that convert well for you, you definitely want to consider putting those as exact match keywords in your account. That way, you can see that traffic separately and always have a good feel on that.

With any match type, the way they describe it in Google is close variants. So any match type, there’s a good chance that the close variants can get matched to your account. So if you have an exact match keyword of “running shoes,” then there’s a chance that your account would also show when someone searches for “running sneakers.” That’s a example of a close variant. It’s not 100% exact match that you can control the searches that you match to, but it’s pretty close. And that goes for any other match type as well. An important distinction and evolution from the early days, things like pluralization doesn’t really matter anymore. So there’s no reason to have different keywords for “shoes” versus “shoe.” Google realizes that as a close variant and handles that all for you in the background, so you don’t have to worry about accounting for plurals anymore. Used to be that accounts would be littered with thousands of keywords that were literally copies of each other except with an S on the end, so we don’t have to worry about that anymore.

That’s all for today’s episode. I’ll be back soon with another episode of Marketing in 10, when we’ll deep dive into another marketing topic. Until then, take care.

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