Understanding Keyword Match Types

28th Sep 2020

So, you’re starting a search campaign, you’ve done the research, planned the ad groups, crafted some spellbinding ads and now it’s time to add your keywords. How do you know what keyword is going to pull the right traffic to your website and how do you control when and where to show?

Google has developed match types over the years to make everything more confusing, so we are here to help you get a better understanding. 

There are 3 main match types; broad, phrase and exact, although broad can be modified to work in a more controlled manner. All 3 match types can be used in unison, this is important for driving higher levels of relevant traffic.

Below is a breakdown of each match type:

Exact Match

In years gone by, Exact match keywords showed terms that exactly matched your keywords, however due to changes this is now not the case. To create an exact match keyword, square brackets must surround the keyword. 

Exact match keywords have advanced to a stage where word order and exact keywords are not always adhered to. 


Keyword – [Nike Trainers]

Search Terms – Nike Trainers, Trainers Nike, Nike Sneakers

Phrase Match

Phrase match keywords help drive relevant traffic to your website, including search terms which involve phrases around the keyword you are targeting. To create a phrase match keyword, quotation marks are needed to surround the keyword.

Phrase match enables you to serve ads for multiple variations of your keyword, this is especially useful as all users search in different ways. 


Keyword – “Nike Trainers”

Search Terms: Buy Nike Trainers, Nike Trainers Online, Blue Nike Trainers Amazon

Broad Match

Broad match keywords are the least controlled form of keyword match types, they allow ads to be served for loosely related search terms. To create a broad match keyword, no punctuation is needed to surround the keyword.

This match type enables you to drive large amounts of traffic, however the keywords are not always as relevant.


Keyword – Nike Trainers

Search Terms: Sports Trainers, Adidas Trainers, Sport Shoes, Nike Stockists

All of which are loosely related to the keyword that we have added to the account, but not all these search terms may be relevant to the products you sell. In addition to this, the relevancy to the ads will be a lot lower or you could be directing users to the wrong page.

All is not lost for broad match keywords; modifications can be applied to the keywords in order to make them more relevant. These modifications are defined with a ‘+’ before each keyword you want included in the search term.

Broad Match Modified (BMM)

Used as a way of controlling the relevancy of the search terms that come through to the site, whilst still having the flexibility of broad. Think of this modification as a more advanced version of phrase match.


Keyword - +Nike +Trainers

Search Terms – Buy Nike Trainers, Nike Trainers Online, Nike Blue Trainers, Where can I find Trainers made by Nike etc.

No matter the match type you choose to use, an important part of the PPC management is search term optimisation. This highlights new keywords to target and irrelevant terms which should be added in as negative keywords.

Still struggling with the minefield of keyword match types? Get in touch with Calm today for a free specialist PPC audit or consultation.