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Understanding AdWords Match Types

Posted on 5.04.2008

Gone are the days when you could develop a list of keywords, place a modest bid and receive quality visitors. Now you've got geo-targeting, quality scores and a slew of other considerations to make when in pursuit of maximizing your paid advertising budget. One of the most challenging aspects of paid advertising for new Adwords users are the variety of match types available. Understanding the AdWords match types is crucial to your success, so let's take a look at the available matching options.

Exact Matching: The most targeted advertising option, Exact Match keywords are presented in brackets, e.g. [website magazine]. Advertisers will receive traffic on an exact match keyword when a user searches specifically for that term. Fewer impressions will be received but it is clearly the most targeted ad option at Adwords.

Broad Matching: The default ad option, broad match is for those that want Google to do a little work in their campaign. Using broad matching enables your ad listing to appear when users enter additional search terms. For example, if our keyword was 'website magazine', using broad match, our listing might also appear for 'free website magazine' or 'good website magazine' in addition to plurals such as 'website magazines'. Think of broad matching as a way to easily add keyword variations without investing all the time.

Phrase Matching: More targeted than broad match, by entering your keyword or key phrases in quotation marks, e.g. "website magazine", advertisers have access to users searching for 'website magazine' and also to those searches with terms before or after the phrase, e.g.    Phrase match is more targeted than broad match, but has the flexibility for slight variation that exact match does not.

Negative Keyword Matching: Negative keywords enable advertisers to ensure that they do not, under any circumstances, appear for certain keyword or key phrase combinations. For example, if our broad match keyword 'website magazine' was receiving loads of traffic from the search query 'funny website magazine' we might want to include a negative keyword in our account such as 'website magazine -funny' we will not be paying for that traffic.

It's important to understand that each of the matching options provide a different way for users to interact with search queries. With some types, you will receive many ad impressions and with other you'll get fewer (but often more targeted visitors). By matching your advertising strategy to your ROI goals you should come out a winner.


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