What are the keyword match types in Google Ads?

Google Ads Match Types Contextual advertising

Using keyword match types in Google AdWords, you can determine how closely a potential buyer’s query should match their ad impressions.

With this tool (if used correctly), you can not only improve your ad quality scores, but also significantly reduce your campaign costs. Thus, you can adjust whether the system should show ads if a synonym for the query was entered in the search bar or words are in reverse order, etc.

Keyword match types in Google AdWords

There are four match types in Google AdWords. By default, wide is enabled in the system; there is no need to apply special modifiers to use it. Also, a PPC specialist can include exact match, phrase match, and broad match with a modifier.

Each of them can be used depending on the purpose of the RC. For example, if we need to drive the maximum amount of traffic to the site, we use broad match, but if we get to the user intent as much as possible and get the most relevant transitions, then exact match.

Important! A PPC specialist must understand the purpose of each of the match types – they allow you to stop the display of ads for non-targeted keyword combinations, and the success of the AC directly depends on them.

This keyword match type is configured by default. Impressions are carried out by the maximum number of queries, including word forms, synonyms, opposite word order, etc. It is used quite rarely, since the system itself is not able to determine adequate synonyms, and we risk getting many non-targeted transitions to the page.

Broad keyword match

Options to use:

  • When you need to extend the semantics with new queries;
  • When you need to get more traffic, but the entire core for the target keys has already been collected;
  • For advertising campaigns in the English-speaking market, the Google Ads system selects synonyms in English more carefully.
Attention! When working with a broad match type, you need to constantly expand the list of negative keywords and regularly monitor reports in the advertising account.

Advantages of broad match:

  1. Spans many woofers associated with a key;
  2. Performs well in narrow-profile topics where semantics is limited;
  3. There is no need to waste time and resources on collecting a semantic core;
  4. The cost of going to the site is much lower;
  5. Customers who care about coverage rather than sample accuracy benefit the most.
Important! Most of all, broad match is interesting for advertisers who occupy a narrow niche and are trying to understand what queries in search engines for visitors in general will be interested in the product.


  1. Ad rank drops, resulting in a lower average position;
  2. Overall ad CTR suffers due to poor relevance;
  3. High risk of receiving non-targeted clicks;
  4. The possibility of losing money from impressions for queries that do not bring sufficient conversion.

Wide match modifier

The most commonly used type of keyword match, making ads more predictable. It excludes synonyms from coverage, leaving abbreviations, declensions, words with the same root, errors. The ad will definitely contain word forms or phrases, next to which put a “+” sign during setup.

AdWords Broad Match Modifier

The main task of the modifier is to bring the keywords to more accurate word forms, which leads to a decrease in coverage, but increases the relevance of impressions. Applying this type of match potentially multiplies the number of conversions while maintaining tighter control over the campaign.


  • You can find additional relevant words, and then use them in advertising;
  • Increased click-through rate versus broad match;
  • The transition cost is often less than the exact type.


  • There is a risk of receiving non-targeted clicks (in practice, this can be about one in five);
  • Including auxiliary words and rearranging them in a phrase can radically change the semantic message of the query.

Phrase keyword match type

Renders impressions only when all constituent words of the keyword have been used in the query, and in the same order. This Google Ads match type is stricter than the previous ones.

Phrase match example

To display an ad, you need to enter exactly the specified phrase in the search engine without dilutions and declensions. It is possible to add additional words before or after the key.

Benefits of Phrase Matching:

  • You can reduce the probability of non-targeted clicks to a minimum level;
  • Allows you to control the order of the words that make up the query;
  • The click-through rate is much higher compared to other types.


  • Sharply limiting the coverage of publications, especially when the key endings are not sufficiently developed;
  • The cost per click is above average.

Exact Keyword Match Type

If you use the exact keyword match type in AdWords, your sponsored posts will show up when you enter a phrase that exactly matches the keyword. It is considered the most strict of all.

Exact keyword match

Allows you to fix the number of words in the query, their order. However, ads will be shown when requested in the plural or if the phrase contains conjunctions or prepositions.

Exact match should be used with a small advertising budget, if there is no desire to select negative keywords or if you need to break a more general phrase into its component parts.

Pros of Exact Matching:

  • Publications are shown only for the given phrase, and there is no need for negative keywords;
  • There is no risk of receiving inappropriate clicks;
  • CTR is the highest possible.


  • Narrow reach of users;
  • Large time spent on collecting the semantic core (since you need to include all kinds of ways to write a keyword in the campaign).

Match types for negative keywords

Using negative keywords can prevent the AdWords system from showing ads for non-targeted queries. Thus, the advertiser can limit the spending of the campaign budget and increase the profitability of the project as a whole, and only a truly interested audience will see the ad.

The following match types are allowed for negative keywords in Google Ads Manager:


In this case, the display of ads will not occur only if the visitor entered the same words in the search bar that were minus, and in the exact same order.

Exact match for negative keywords


Excludes ad impressions when a negative keyword occurs in the user’s query, the words within which are located in a certain sequence. It does not matter whether other words were used before or after the blocking phrase. However, the user can rearrange the words from the query in places, then the ad will be displayed.

Negative keyword in phrase match


Prevents ads from being shown for requests containing the negative keyword used in the text.

Attention! Remember that if the request includes spelling errors or typos, ads will not be blocked. When compiling lists of negative keywords, be sure to include separately all possible spelling variations and typos.

Broad match is also not good for very long search terms. For example, at the beginning of the query, ten or more words were used, after which a minus phrase was used in a broad match. Then the display of ads will be carried out in the usual mode.

Wide match for negative keywords

Changes in Google AdWords match types in 2020

Since 2020, keyword match types in Google Ads such as broad and phrase match have started to work for similar queries. The updated rules make them almost indistinguishable, and key word forms become less significant.

Google has provided information that would make the benefits for advertisers very significant:

  • The number of conversions and clicks will increase by approximately 3-4%. At the same time, 85% of fresh transitions will be created using updated keywords and phrases;
  • Increasing relevant traffic – advertising posts will be displayed in accordance with words that are close in meaning to the keywords. This will significantly expand the audience, and in the early days of innovation, the number of clicks on ads will increase dramatically;
  • Keywords and phrases are no longer critical for ad ranking. The system independently evaluates and selects the necessary information corresponding to the search intent;
  • Saving time – the system will independently select synonyms and queries depending on the thematic interests of users.

In addition to the positive aspects of the changes, there are also some disadvantages:

  • No control over ad impressions. It will no longer be possible to track requests for which a post is shown. This innovation will make it more difficult to advance in narrow niches. Campaign management is now only possible with negative keywords and smart bidding;
  • In the early days of the new rules, advertising spending will rise significantly;
  • Unable to implement SKAG strategy. Optimizing headings and text for keywords becomes pointless.

Artificial intelligence is becoming more and more sophisticated and now takes on many tasks that were previously done manually. In the future, advertisers should carefully monitor keyword reports and quickly respond to irrelevant queries by adding them to negative keywords to maintain their promotion.

Сергей Шевченко
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Sergey Shevchenko Google Logist GoogleLogist
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