Choose the right Google Ads keywords for effective targeting

Manage match types for growth and control

Understanding keyword match type strategy and keywords' overall role in your account is essential to crafting your Google Ads strategy.

Use broad match to capture long tail queries, reserve exact match for your primary volume and value drivers

Your keywords target users’ queries, and your match types are intended to control the targeting logic of those keywords. 


Broad match vs. Exact match

Broad match and exact match keywords both use semantic matching. Semantic matching focuses on the meaning of a user’s search. Broad match exists to uncover and capture a wide range of queries that are related to user intent, while exact match exists to capture queries with the same intent as your keyword. 

Type of matching Keyword Matched queries
Exact [flower arrangement] flower arrangement
floral arrangement
arranging flowers
(+ others)
Broad flower arrangement floral arrangement class
floral delivery
rose bouquet
(+ others)

Don’t create granular variations of phrase/exact match keywords

Refine Match Types for High-Value Queries

You can have more control over bids and creatives if you target queries with more restrictive match types, but targeting via phrase and exact shouldn’t be the core strategy across your entire account. Don’t overcomplicate your account and its management while missing out on valuable traffic from broad match terms.

Focus exact and phrase match type keywords on high-value and high-volume queries where you will experience the benefits of more control over bids and creatives.

Match type Use case
Exact You want to target searches with the same underlying meaning as the keyword.
Phrase You want to target a set of words repeated across a number of different queries, and you want to manage all of the traffic that’s appearing in those queries. The order of the set of words matters. For example, you see performance differences between “flower bouquet” and “bouquet of flowers.”
Modified broad You want to target a set of words repeated across a number of different queries, and you want to manage all of the traffic that’s appearing in those queries. The order of the set of words does not matter. For example, there are no performance differences between “flower bouquet” and “bouquet of flowers.”

Look for the broad match keywords in your account where there’s enough query volume to justify creating a separate match type keyword. To do this, sort your search terms report based on click or conversion volume. Remember, getting specific with creatives will require you to put these keywords into a new ad group so you can tailor messaging.

Don’t spend a lot of time building out subtle variations of your exact and phrase match keywords. Both exact and phrase match keywords cover close variants such as: misspellings, singulars/plurals, acronyms, abbreviations, accents and stemmings. Exact match keywords also cover terms with the same intent.

Negative keyword match types do not include close variants. For example, if you want to exclude “arrangement” and “arrangements” you will have to add both as negative keywords.  


Establish a baseline of how the different match types perform in your account. This will help you set bids on new keywords if you’re using manual bidding. Then, after initial setup, manage them based on their performance.


Expand Match Types for High Value Keywords

Going from broad to exact allows you to better manage traffic for valuable terms. Conversely, going from phrase/exact match to broad match can increase your volume.

Sort your phrase/exact keywords based on click, conversion or assist conversion volume. For high-performing terms that are only running on phrase or exact, consider adding a broad match or broad match modified version (these cases will also be surfaced on the Recommendations page for you).

As you expand your reach, you’ll want to maintain an acceptable level of performance. To do this, consider adding negative keywords or enabling bid automation for your broad match terms.


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