Add keywords

Adding the right keywords helps you show your ads to the customers you want, when you want.

This article shows you how to add keywords to your ad groups for Search or Display/video campaigns. You may want to begin by learning more About keywords.

Choosing match types for Search campaign keywords

When you add a keyword to ad groups for search campaigns, you can choose the match type that you want by entering the keyword in one of the following formats. 

  • For broad match, enter keywords with no formatting (for example, women’s hats)
  • For broad match modifier, enter keywords with a + before the modified terms (for example,  +women's +hats)
  • For phrase match, enter keywords in quotations (for example, 'women's hats')
  • For exact match, enter keywords in brackets (for example, [women's hats])

We recommend using a mix of broader (broad match and broad match modifier) and more targeted match types (phrase match and exact match) to give you the right volume of traffic for valuable terms. By layering broader match types with Smart Bidding, you can increase the volume on relevant queries while achieving your goals. Learn more About Smart Bidding.

Using symbols in keywords

You can use two symbols (ampersands (&) and accent marks (á)) in your keywords. Keywords with these symbols are considered two different keywords, like pavement cafe and pavement café.

Here are some of the symbols that our system doesn't recognise:

  • Ignored symbols: You can add periods (.) to your keywords, but these symbols will be ignored. That means the keywords High St. and High St, for example, are considered identical keywords.
  • Invalid symbols: You'll see an error message if you add keywords that contain certain symbols. Some of the symbols that can't be used in your keywords are: , ! @ % ^ () = {} ; ~ ` <> ? \ |. Asterisks (*) can only be added to negative keywords.
  •  '+' symbol: +’s at the beginning of a keyword are ignored (except for enabling BMM).  If you add pluses (+) in other positions in your keywords, they'll usually be ignored (for example blue+car), however in some cases if a + is at the end of a word (for example C++), it won't be ignored. 
  • '-' symbol: While the minus (-) operator is ignored for matching, it does impact how terms in keywords are matched. Adding a ‘-’ to the front of a term in the keyword will cause this term to be ignored for keyword matching. For example, if you have a negative keyword 'dark -chocolate', it’ll be considered the same as just 'dark'. Spacing also matters. If the ‘-’ is between two words (for example, 'well-being') or if there's a space between the ‘-’ and term (for example, '- red') then the symbol will be ignored.
  • Site and search operators: The 'site:' operator will be removed from your keywords. That means that if you add the keyword [site:www.example.com dark chocolate], it’ll be considered the same as [dark chocolate]. Search operators will also be ignored. For example, if you add the search operator 'OR' to the keyword dark chocolate, like OR dark chocolate, the 'OR' command will be ignored and your keyword will be just dark chocolate.

Instructions for Search and Display campaigns

The steps for adding keywords to your ad group vary depending on your campaign type. If you’re not sure what your campaign type is, check the top of the campaign page. You’ll see the campaign type, along with the campaign status and daily budget.

Add keywords to Search campaigns

  1. Sign in to your Google Ads account.
  2. Click Keywords in the page menu on the left, then click Search keywords along the top.
  3. Click the plus button .
  4. Click Select an ad group. In the dialogue box that appears, select the campaign and associated ad group to which you’d like to add keywords.
  5. You can add keywords in one of the following ways:
    1. Enter or paste keywords, one per line. You can choose a match type for each keyword by adding it in one of the following formats.
    2. For broad match, enter keywords with no formatting (for example, women’s hats).
    3. For broad match modifier, enter keywords with a + before the modified terms (for example, +women's +hats).
    4. For phrase match, enter keywords in quotations (for example, 'women's hats').
    5. For exact match, enter keywords in brackets (for example, [women's hats]).
    6. Get keyword ideas. Once you select an ad group, you’ll see keyword ideas that might be relevant to your ad group on the right. If you’d like, enter a related website and your product or service. Click the plus sign next to keywords that you want to add to your ad group. You can modify match types after adding the keywords.
  6. Click Save.

Add keywords to Display/Video campaigns

  1. Sign in to your Google Ads account.
  2. Click Keywords in the page menu on the left, then click Display/video keywords along the top
  3. Click the plus button .
  4. Click Select an ad group, and select the campaign and ad group that you’d like to add keywords to.
  5. You can add keywords in one of the following ways:
    1. Enter or paste keywords, one per line.
    2. Get keyword ideas. Once you select an ad group, you’ll see keyword ideas that might be relevant to your ad group on the right. If you’d like, enter a related website and your product or service. Click the plus sign next to keywords that you want to add to your ad group.
  6. Select either 'Audience' or 'Content' for your keyword setting.
  7. Click Save.

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