Phrase match: Definition

Note: This definition applies to positive keyword targeting only. Negative phrase match keywords behave differently than phrase match keywords. Learn more about keyword matching options

A keyword match type that allows you to show your ads on searches that include the meaning of your keyword. The meaning of the keyword can be implied, and user searches can be a more specific form of the meaning. This allows you to reach more searches than with exact match and fewer searches than with broad match.

To understand how phrase match works, consider the following scenario:

Let’s assume that you’ve added the phrase match “moving services NYC to Boston” to your keywords. With phrase match, your ads may show when a user searches for either “affordable moving services NYC to Boston” or “NYC corporate moving services to Boston.” The word order (and the additional emphasis on affordable or corporate moving) won’t affect the display of your ad because it’s clear that the meaning of the keyword is contained in the search: the user is in need of a service to move to and from the same cities.

However, if a user searches for “moving services Boston to New York City,” phrase match recognizes that the meaning of the keyword is no longer maintained, so your ads won’t show. With phrase match, a user’s word order matters only when it changes the intended meaning of your keyword.

When you use phrase match, your ads get to the right users without the creation of an extensive list of keywords and phrases. If you’re searching for help thinking like a user or reaching the right groups of potential customers, review our tips for building your keyword list.

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