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About keyword matching options

Keyword match types help control which searches can trigger your ad. For example, you could use broad match to show your ad to a wide audience or you could use exact match to hone in on specific groups of customers.

This article explains the different match types that are available. Find out more about adding keywords.

How they work

In general, the broader the keyword matching option, the more traffic potential that keyword has. Conversely, the narrower the keyword matching option, the more relevant that keyword will be to someone's search.

Understanding these differences can help you to choose the right options and improve your return on investment.

When choosing the appropriate match type for a keyword, we typically recommend starting with broad match to maximise your potential to show your ads on relevant searches. And you can use the search terms report to monitor which keyword variations triggered your ads.

Different match types

Each match type will trigger your ad to show for a customer's search in different ways. Next, learn a little bit more about each type.

Bear in mind

Keywords aren't case-sensitive, which means that they're matched without regard to upper-case or lower-case letters. For example, you don't need to enter "women's hats" and "Women's Hats" as keywords – just "women's hats" will cover both.

As you'll learn in next sections, symbols have special meanings in AdWords, so you should generally avoid using them. Also, keywords can't contain any non-standard characters like: ! @ % , *

You can use keyword match types with campaigns that show ads on the Search Network. On the Display Network, keywords are treated as broad match.

Broad match (example)

Broad match is the default match type that all your keywords are assigned. Ads may show on searches that include misspellings, synonyms, related searches and other relevant variations.

  • Example keyword: women's hats
  • Example search: buy ladies hats

Find out more about broad match.

Broad match modifier (example)

Ads may show on searches that contain the modified term (or close variations, but not synonyms), in any order.

  • Symbol: +keyword
  • Example keyword: +women's +hats
  • Example search: hats for women

Find out more about broad match modifier.

Phrase match (example)

Ads may show on searches that are a phrase, and close variations of that phrase.

  • Symbol: "keyword"
  • Example keyword: "women's hats"
  • Example search: buy women's hats

Find out more about phrase match.

Exact match (example)

Ads may show on searches that are an exact term and close variations of that exact term.

  • Symbol: [keyword]
  • Example keyword: [women's hats]
  • Example search: women's hats

Find out more about exact match.

Negative match (example)

Ads may show on searches without the term.

  • Symbol: -keyword
  • Example keyword: -women
  • Example search: baseball hats

Find out more about negative match.

Close keyword variations

So that you don't miss out on potential customers, we'll show your ads for close variations of your phrase and exact match keywords to maximise the potential for your ads to show on relevant searches. Close variations include misspellings, singular forms, plural forms, acronyms, stemmings (such as floor and flooring), abbreviations and accents. So there's no need to separately add close variations as keywords.

For example, if your phrase match keyword is "kid's scooter", you'd still want to show your ad when someone searches for "kids scooter" or "kid scooters".

Bear in mind that even though we show close variations of your phrase and exact match keywords, these match types still give you more control than broad match. That's because broad match keywords also show for synonyms and related searches, which aren't considered close variations.

For app install campaigns, we may extend the scope of some of your keyword match types in ways that are specific to apps. Here's how this can work:

  • For exact and phrase keywords, we may make small changes to search terms (like adding or removing the word "app") to better match with your targeted keywords.
  • For broad match keywords, we may use app category information to improve both your targeting precision and reach.

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