PPC Principles: The Basics of Keyword Matching

There are numerous definitive guides out there that go into vast depths discussing keywords and their matching and mapping capabilities within a campaign – be this Adwords or organically based. For many beginners to the rabbit-hole topic that is PPC, incorrectly assigning your keyword matches can lead to very little return, and a lot of spent budget. Below we discuss the basics of keyword matching, where to edit your match types and what each match type means.

The User Interface

To find the keyword section of the Adwords interface, after logging in to your Google Adwords account go to the campaigns tab top left of your screen. Within this setting there are 6 tabs for a standard campaign, and rather obviously, the “keywords” tab is where you want to select your keywords and start your matching.

PPC Keyword Interface

The Default – Broad Match

When you add keywords to your campaign the default will be broad match. You can tell if a keyword is broad matched when it appears with no additional characters such as +, “” or [ ]. How this translates to searches is as follows; pretty much anything goes…

If someone has the keyphrase you’ve selected be it in the order you have it, a different order, your keywords plus additional words, some of your chosen keywords but not all, even seemingly irrelevant additional key words that change the meaning of the keyphrase entirely – for all of these combinations, your ads may show.

I rarely use broad match, the chance of paying for non-converting traffic is too great. One way to potentially get around this if you’re desperate to use broad match is to have an extensive negative keyword list (found at the bottom of the “keywords” tab). Click the blue + to upload your list; Google Analytics and the Keyword Planner can help you decipher which words should go on it.

Broad Match Modify

By setting your keyphrase to broad match and adding a + in front of every word you can refine the broad match setting a little. Adding this symbol means that the words within your keyphrase can be searched for in any order, but they all have to be present. This setting is recommended for longer phrases with 4 words or more, though it is a great option to use on many keyphrases – remember, if you start getting clicks with no conversions you can always make the search parameters of your keyphrase stricter.

Phrase Match

Selecting phrase match from the dropdown next to your highlighted keyphrase means that people searching need to have your keyphrase in their search, in the order that you have it. They can have other words in their search as well, but your phrase has to be in there the way you have it listed. This option is recommended if you want to restrict the types of clicks you get through, but still allow for slightly broader searches to show your ad.

Exact Match

If you have an extremely competitive term, by choosing to have your keyphrase exact matched you can often achieve higher page positions as your listing is shown for less variations. Additionally, if you really want to restrict clicks and go for a high click through rate, you can have more Adgroups with ads specifically targeted at just one or two keyphrases and exact match each of these keyphrases in the keywords tab.

Exact matching is defined by these symbols [ ] and available to select when you click on a keyword, for exact matches your ad will only be shown if people search for that exact term – no variations.

As mentioned above this is the tip of a monumental iceberg. For example, what to do with keyword matches once you gather data and clicks is another topic entirely. I don’t claim to be a definitive expert on Adwords keyphrases, quite the opposite – for more advice I suggest either checking out Advanced Google Adwords by Brad Geddes and/or looking into learning Adwords from a certified professional (this can be done online also).