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Using AdWords Keyword Match Types to Your Advantage

There is a reason why Google certification tests are so hard to pass: AdWords is a complicated and nuanced program, with thousands of settings and options. But, when employed correctly, it is a system that will drive leads for nearly any business.

The key to success with AdWords is all in the keywords. Punny, yes, but also entirely true. Keyword selection will either be the downfall of, or the largest contributor to, the success of a PPC campaign. You’ll quickly hone your keyword intuition after running a few campaigns–or, a few thousand, in our case.

There are five types of keywords you can use — called match types — in an AdWords campaign. Each has its own function and, when combined, creates a team that is more kick-butt than The Avengers.

Digital Marketing Superhero Adster Blog


Broad Match

The most generic of all keyword options. It will include any misspellings, related searches, synonyms, and other variations that Google deems relevant.

ex: cars

This type of keyword can be a great way to see what people are actually typing in about a broad subject, but can lead to irrelevant clicks.So use broad matched keywords carefully, and always monitor the actual matched searches that are rolling in to keep the clicks relevant.

Modified Broad Match

This allows more control over relevancy of actual matched searches, while still remaining broad enough to bring in searches that you may not have thought of. all terms with the + modifier in front of it must be part of the search query in order to trigger these keywords. They do not have to appear in order, but must all appear nonetheless.

  • ex: +red +cars

Modified Broad Match is a great way to access similar, but still relevant, keywords without having to add hundreds of keywords to your ad group. Instead of typing in twenty variations of the term “meat shop”, you can use +meat +shop and Google will include synonyms, like “butcher shop” and “meat market”.

Phrase Match

These keywords must appear in the same order in order to trigger your ad, although close variations of a term will be applied as well.

  • ex: “red cars”

Phrase Match keywords will usually make up the majority of a keyword list because of their medium-specific nature. They still allow a moderate amount of flexibility, but will maintain the relevancy of the clicks for your campaign.

Exact Match

As the name implies, these words must appear exactly as entered in order to trigger your ads.

  • ex: [red cars]

Branded search terms are normally exact matches, as are any specific products or brands that you may deal with, as well as including your own brand name (and its variations).

Negative Match

These terms will not trigger your ad at all.

  • ex: -cars or
  • -”red cars” or
  • -[red cars]

Negative keywords are the Hulk in your keyword Avengers. Negative keywords will stop your ads from being shown, the same way that the Hulk single-handedly subdued Loki.


Building your keyword list isn’t the last stop on the train to Leads Town. It’s a long road, and it needs to include keyword optimization as well–which is another post, for another time.