About similar keywords in a Google Ads account

Your ads are eligible to appear when one of your keywords matches a user’s search term on Google or on search partner sites.

But within one account, you might have multiple keywords that are similar or overlap in meaning, and could all match a given search term. For example, you might have the keywords "plumber course" and "plumber training course" in the same ad group, and both could match the search term "training course for plumbers". Only one of those keywords can trigger an ad for the search term.

This article explains what happens when your account has multiple keywords that could match the same search term from an individual ad group or from different ad groups in the same account.

Note: If multiple keywords from the same account are eligible to match the same search term, they don't compete with each other in the auction. The set of preferences detailed below determines which keyword is used to enter an ad into an auction. Once the ad enters the auction, it’s then compared with ads from other advertisers, and your cost-per-click is what's minimally required to clear the Ad Rank thresholds and beat the Ad Rank of the competitor immediately below you, if any.

How a keyword is selected

If your account contains several keywords that could match a search term, the preferences below are used to determine which keyword is used to enter an ad into an auction.

1. An exact match keyword that’s identical to the search term

If you have an exact match keyword that's identical to the search term, this keyword is preferred for triggering an ad. This is true even if there are other keywords in your account that are similar to the search term.

For example, let's say the search term is plumber course and your account includes the exact match keywords [plumber course] and [plumber training course], as well as the phrase match keyword “plumber course”. In this example, the exact match keyword [plumber course] is preferred because it’s an exact match and is identical to the search term plumber course.

2. An exact match keyword that’s identical to the spell-corrected search term

If an exact match keyword in your account is identical to the spell-corrected search term, this keyword will be preferred. Spell-corrected search terms can typically be identified if the Google Search Results page offers “Showing results for“ with the corrected term.

Note: Even if your account includes broad match and phrase match keywords that are identical to the misspelled search term, the exact match keyword is still preferred in this case.
For example, if the search term is plumbrs, and your account includes the exact match keyword [plumbers] and the broad match keyword plumbrs, then the exact match keyword is preferred, even though there's a broad match keyword that matches the query exactly.

3. A phrase or broad match keyword that’s identical to the search term

If you have a non-exact match keyword that’s identical to the search term, this keyword is preferred for triggering an ad. This is true even if there are other keywords in your account that are similar to the search term. If you have both a phrase and broad match version of the same keyword, we'll use the keyword with the highest Ad Rank.

For example, let's say the search term is plumber course and your account includes the exact match keyword [plumber training course] as well as the phrase match keyword “plumber course”, but it doesn’t include the exact match keyword [plumber course]. In this example, the phrase match keyword “plumber course” is preferred because it’s identical to the search term plumber course and there isn’t an exact match keyword that’s identical to either the search term or its spell correction.

4. A phrase or broad match keyword that’s identical to the spell-corrected search term

If you have a non-exact match keyword that’s identical to the search term, this keyword is preferred for triggering an ad. This is true even if there are other keywords in your account that are similar to the search term. If you have both a phrase and broad match version of the same keyword, we'll use the keyword with the highest Ad Rank.

For example, let's say the search term is plumbr course and your account includes the exact match keyword [plumber training course] as well as the broad match keyword plumber course, but it doesn’t include the exact match keywords [plumbr course] or [plumber course]. In this example, the broad match keyword plumber course is preferred because it’s identical to the spell-corrected version of the search term plumbr course. In this case, there isn’t an exact match keyword that’s identical to either the search term or its spell correction and there isn’t another keyword that’s identical to the search term.

5. A keyword with the best combination of relevance and Ad Rank

If you have multiple keywords eligible to match and none were identical, the most relevant keyword will trigger an ad. Previously, when you had multiple keywords that were eligible to match and none were identical to the search, your Ad Rank would determine which keyword served. Now, we consider relevance signals in addition to Ad Rank when determining which keyword is selected. Relevance is determined by looking at the meaning of the search term, the meaning of all the keywords in the ad group, and the landing pages within the ad group.

If broad match keywords are eligible to match, only relevant broad match keywords from the most relevant ad groups will be selected. We then use Ad Rank to decide which keyword will be selected among the remaining keywords with similar relevance. This includes phrase and exact match keywords that are eligible to match.

Exception to preferences

A campaign is limited by budget

Your campaign's daily budget can affect whether the preferences above are applied. If a keyword is in a budget-restricted campaign, which means that the campaign's budget isn't high enough to accrue all possible traffic, the keyword won't always be able to trigger an ad even if it otherwise could. This helps prevent the campaign from greatly exceeding its budget. Learn more about how you can avoid a depleted average daily budget

For example, let's say your campaigns are called "Clogged Sinks" and "Broken Water Heater." In your "Clogged Sinks" campaign, you have the exact match keyword plumber, and in your "Broken Water Heater" campaign, you have the broad match keyword plumber.

All else being equal, the exact match keyword in your "Clogged Sinks" campaign would trigger an ad when someone searched for the term plumber because it has a higher preference. However, if your "Clogged Sinks" campaign is budget-restricted, then the exact match keyword in this campaign would sometimes be unable to trigger an ad. This means the broad match keyword in your "Broken Water Heater" campaign could trigger an ad instead.

One of your keywords isn’t eligible to trigger an ad

There may be times when the preferences above don’t apply because a keyword isn’t eligible to trigger an ad. These reasons include:

  • A keyword has low search volume status. This is a status given to a keyword that has very little to no search history on Google. Keywords with this status are temporarily inactive and won’t trigger ads. So, if you have a low search volume keyword, you’ll notice a different keyword triggering an ad for a matching search term, even if according to the preferences above, your low-search volume keyword should have been the one to trigger the ad.
  • All creatives and/or landing pages for the ad group are disapproved.
  • Not all campaign or ad group targeting are satisfied. For example, if an ad group with an eligible keyword is targeting a specific location, and the user search term that matches that keyword isn't in that location, then that keyword wouldn't be able to serve.

Keywords and Dynamic Search Ads

Dynamic Search Ads are equivalent to keywords that don’t exactly match the search term or the spell-corrected search term for selection preference. This means if a keyword isn't preferred based on the above rules, Dynamic Search Ads are selected based on the highest Ad Rank in comparison to other keywords in the account. The same exceptions to preferences apply. Learn more About Dynamic Search Ads

Was this helpful?
How can we improve it?

Need more help?

Sign in for additional support options to quickly solve your issue

Search
Clear search
Close search
Google apps
Main menu
Search Help Center
true
73067
false