Posted by James Lee on 7th September 2010

Which Match Type Should I Choose?

You’ll get a lot of conflicting advice on choosing a match type for your keywords. Broad match gets the most impressions and clicks — not all of them relevant. Phrase match and exact match receive significantly fewer impressions and clicks, but also spend less on irrelevant clicks. Which one should you use?

The answer depends on what your goals for your PPC campaign are, what your budget is like, what average costs per click are for your industry, and how much time you’re willing to invest into your keywords after you start running your campaign.

As a reminder:

  • Broad match keyword trigger search queries with plurals, synonyms and phrases that Google thinks might be related to your keyword. If your keyword is, say, ‘cat tree,’ your ad may show up for people looking for cat trees, cat scratching posts, pictures of cats in trees, instructions for getting cats down from trees, etc.
  • Phrase match keywords (“cat tree”) show up when a search query includes the exact phrase, e.g. ‘cat tree on sale’ or ‘buy cat tree online,’ but not for ‘trees for cats.’
  • Exact match keywords ([cat tree]) will trigger ads only for search queries that match your keyword exactly: ‘cat tree,’ but not ‘cat tree on sale.’ 
  • Negative keywords (-pics) prevent your ad from showing when a search query contains a specific keyword. So while a query for ‘cat tree’ will trigger your ad, ‘cat tree pics’ will not if you’ve added -pics as a negative.

We here at ClickSweeper have seen two types of campaigns achieve success: primarily broad match with a comprehensive set of negative keywords, and primarily phrase and exact match. Here’s the scoop on each:

Broad match with negatives

  • Fewer keywords (no need to include every variation or long tail keyword).
  • Many negatives required.
  • Many impressions and clicks.
  • Higher spending.
  • Regular updates to negative lists required: go through search queries, Google sktool, and wonder wheel to find new negatives.
  • Over time your campaign will net the vast majority of relevant & long tail queries with few irrelevant clicks.
  • Good for larger budgets, industries with lower CPC, branding purposes, higher visibility.

Phrase and exact match

  • Out of the box precision: few or no irrelevant clicks.
  • Longer keyword lists for plurals, word order, and other variations.
  • Fewer impressions and clicks; may miss some relevant queries.
  • Lower spending.
  • Higher clickthrough rates and quality score.
  • Lower maintenance time.
  • Good for industries with high cost per click, lower budgets, and highly specific products or services.

If you’re somewhere between the two, you can combine them, or even try running the same keyword with different match types within an adgroup. (And if you need help managing your PPC accounts once you’ve got them up and running, we’re here to help with all your PPC management software needs!)

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