What’s the Difference Between Broad, Phrase, & Exact Match?

Quick post today, just going over the basic differences between keyword match types: Broad Match, Phrase Match, and Exact Match.

Do you know the difference?

It seems when we are setting up a new client within Adwords, we often get this question. Either Google is not doing a good job of explaining it for people when they are first setting up their Adwords campaigns, or people just get confused about when to use which option.

Mastering the different keyword match types is critical to proper PPC advertising. It’s important you don’t mess this up, or you could be wasting a lot of your advertising budget on useless traffic.

So, let’s get down to the nitty gritty.

Broad Match, Phrase Match, and Exact Match

First, let’s go over “Broad Match”

When you select “Broad Match“, your ad will display whenever the search term includes any of your keywords. For example, if your target keyword is “blueberry muffin recipe” then any search with either “blueberry” or “muffin” or “recipe” in it will trigger your ad to be displayed. So the actual search term “blueberry muffin recipe” might only get 600 searches, while “blueberry” gets 1700 searches and “muffin recipe” gets over 3500 searches.

Within Google’s Keyword Tool, “Broad Match” is the default setting. So if you are using the keyword tool to find keywords and you click that handy button to “add keyword” to your campaign, it will be added as a broad match term.

When is the appropriate time to use “Broad Match”? Well that depends on what you are trying to accomplish with your ad. If you’re going for maximum reach and can be more liberal with your budget, you can learn a lot about which keywords in your market convert well.

Since roughly 20% of search terms each day have never been searched before, “broad” is perfect for doing research to fining more related keywords to target. Just be sure to “negative match” any keywords that come through that don’t fit or serve you well, or you’ll be burning through your ad budget pretty quick.

Put simply, the broader your keyword, the greater the reach, but mostly at the cost of relevancy.

Next up, “Phrase Match”

When you select “Phrase Match” it basically works like this: whenever somebody types the keyword “awesome red shoes” then your add will be triggered whenever the search term includes all of those keywords.

For example, when somebody searches for “how to look awesome when wearing red shoes” or “price of Judy Garland’s awesome red shoes” or “awesome price for red shoes” then your ad will be displayed. In general, phrase match is more specific than broad match.

Using this match type will help you target search terms that have never been entered into Google before, yet are very relevant in your target market.

And finally, “Exact Match”

This one’s easy. With “Exact Match“, your ad will only be displayed when people type in your keyword exactly, word for word. So any ad set with the keyword “best seo company in houston” will be displayed only for the search term “best seo company in houston.”

Got it?

As you move from broad to phrase and from phrase to exact, you increase in relevancy and control how targeted your budget becomes.

Some other behaviors by match type

Search Engine Journal featured a helpful article about this very topic not too long ago. In Lisa’s Raehsler’s article she pointed out these other behaviors associated with each match type with this helpful comparison table.

Remember to keep these differences in mind…

chart showing different behavior of keyword match

Final thoughts

When selecting the match type for your keyword, be sure you’re setting up your ad campaigns effectively and with a purpose other than merely driving traffic to your site. And don’t forget to “negative” list any irrelevant keywords along the way.

The better you master PPC management, the more conversions you’ll have and the better your ROI.

If you’d like some help managing your PPC campaigns, simply use the form below. We’re happy to help.

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