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When you’re paying to run ads online, you want to get the most for your money. That’s why it’s important to understand how to use your keywords effectively. And that means knowing the difference between keyword matching options and in which instances you should be using each of them.

When you set up a campaign in Google AdWords, you have the choice between using broad match, phrase match or exact match for your keywords. In most cases, the broader the match, the more traffic potential. At the same time, using exact match may result in more relevant searches. So, what are the differences between match types? And which one should you be using?

Broad Match

Broad match is the default option in Adwords. Using broad match means that your ads will show up whenever someone types something into Google that includes your keywords and even when they type in words similar to your keywords. For example, if you’ve chosen “sporting equipment” as your keywords and you’ve set your campaign to broad match, your ads could show up when people search for: “buy sporting equipment”, “fitness equipment” or “exercise equipment”. Broad match will also return matches of keywords in singular and plural word forms, misspellings, acronyms, abbreviations and stem words such as “sport” for “sporting”.

Phrase Match

Phrase match means that your ad will show up when someone searches for a phrase with your exact keywords in it. If your keywords are “sports equipment” and someone were to search for “sports equipment on sale”, then your ad would show up. And, just like in broad match, any close varieties of the words including singular/plural versions, abbreviations or misspellings that are typed into the search could also trigger your ad to be shown.

Exact Match

An exact match means that your ad will only show up when someone searches your exact keywords. Sticking with the sports theme, if someone were to search “sports equipment”, your ad would show up, but if someone were to search “used sports equipment”, “sports equipment for lacrosse” or “sports equipment sales” your ad wouldn’t show up. Choosing exact match targets your ad in a very specific way to a specific set of search criteria.

Choosing Type of Keyword Match

Choosing your keyword match option really depends on your situation and your specific goals. In general, it’s a good idea to start out using the broad match option. Then you can start to see the amount of traffic that you are getting and which keywords are responsible for those clicks. By keeping an eye on your search term reports through AdWords and using the AdWords Keyword Tool, you will be able to continue to perfect your keywords and eliminate any words that aren’t relevant. Once you start seeing the trends for your ad impressions, you may want to start an exact match ad campaign for a specific product or brand and see how it compares to your broad search results.


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