About keyword matching options

Keywords are words or phrases that are used to match ads with the terms that people are searching for. The keyword match types dictate how closely the keyword needs to match with the user’s search query so that the ad can be considered for the auction. So, you could use broad match to serve your ad on a wider variety of user searches or you could use exact match to hone in on specific user searches.

Tip

Did you know that broader match types capture all the queries of narrower match types, plus more? This means that a phrase match keyword will match all the searches as the same keyword in exact match, plus more. Similarly, a broad match keyword will match all the searches of equivalent phrase and exact match keywords, plus more. Therefore, you get no additional benefit from repeating the same keyword in multiple match types.

Keyword match types

For the keyword ‘lawn mowing service’, we can match the following queries– 1. Broad match (loose matching) – Ads may show on searches that relate to your keyword, such as

Broad match

Ads may show on searches that are related to your keyword, which can include searches that don’t contain the keyword terms. This helps you attract more visitors to your website, spend less time building keyword lists, and focus your spending on keywords that work. Broad match is the default match type that all your keywords are assigned, so that you don't have to specify another match type (exact match, phrase match or a negative match type).

The syntax for broad match is to simply input the keyword. Below is an example of how broad match will work:

For a broad match keyword such as

To deliver relevant matches, this match type may also take into account the following:

  • The user’s recent search activities
  • The content of the landing page
  • Other keywords in an ad group to better understand keyword intent

Broad match works best with Smart Bidding. The Smart Bidding system sets a bid for each individual auction of each query and bids up or down depending on how well the query is likely to perform. Smart Bidding benefits from matching to a wide set of searches so it can find the searches that work best for you. Learn more about how to grow your Smart Bidding campaigns with broad match

Note: Negative keyword match types behave differently from positive match types. Learn more about negative keyword match types

Tip

Adding very similar keywords, such as 'red car' and 'car red' isn’t recommended, as only one keyword would match both searches. However, doing so won’t affect your costs or performance in any way.

For example, the broad match keywords 'red car' and 'car red' will be recognised as duplicates and the one with the higher Ad Rank will be used. Even though all your similar keywords may be eligible to serve on the same search, you'll have only one bid in the ad auction. Learn more about similar keywords in a Google Ads account

Phrase match

Ads may show 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. With phrase match, you can reach more searches than with exact match and fewer searches than with broad match, only showing your ads on the searches that include your product or service.

The syntax for phrase match is to put quotes around your keyword, such as 'tennis shoes'. Below is an example of how phrase match will work:

For the phrase match keyword, such as

Note: Negative keyword match types behave differently from positive match types. Learn more about negative keyword match types
Exact match

Ads may show on searches that have the same meaning or same intent as the keyword. Of the three keyword matching options, exact match gives you the most control over who sees your ad, but reaches fewer searches than both phrase and broad match.

The syntax for exact match is to use square brackets, such as [red shoe]. Below is an example of how exact match will work:

For the exact match keyword, such as [shoes for men], your ads may show on searches for

Note: Negative keyword match types behave differently from positive match types. Learn more about negative keyword match types

Tip

Use Smart Bidding with all match types to automatically optimise for your performance objectives. Smart Bidding works best with broad match because the wide set of searches allows it to learn what works best for you. Learn more about Smart Bidding

Negative keyword

You can use negative keywords to exclude your ads from showing on searches with that term. So if you’re a hat company that doesn’t sell baseball caps, you could add a negative keyword for baseball caps. Note however, that negative keyword match types behave differently from positive match types. Learn more about negative keywords

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