One of the easiest steps one must take in setting up Google AdWords, and Microsoft Ads, is adding the keywords your ads will target. After all, you simply type in the words, click save and they're added.

The only problems is that in a few days, maybe even a few hours, you'll have a lot of clicks on your ads. And often little, if anything, to show for it. No phone calls. No forms filled out. Just a lot of money spent.

The problem is that the default way in which your words are added is as broad match. Google allows you to use different match types which will influence how your ads appear. Yet, the one they favor is the one least likely to succeed.

Use the wrong match type and you could be wasting a lot of money. Or, just as bad, miss out on a lot of opportunities.

Which Keyword Match Type to Use

Google AdWords, and Microsoft Ads, allow you four methods in which to target phrases and all have strengths and weaknesses. It’s also important to know that match types have undergone a transformation over the last few years. Changes that could further cost you money.

Broad match is just that. It can trigger variations for any of the words in your keyword phrase.

If you simply start adding keywords to your campaign, they will be added as broad match and as a result your campaign will likely see a lot of traffic, and impressions. Unfortunately, it could be for a lot of searchers that really aren't interested in your products or services.

For example, you’re targeting the phrase jeep repair. As you can see in the grapic below, the terms this triggered involved not just searches for other types of vehicles, but even the jeep related terms didn't involve people actually looking for a service dealer.

Broad match often results in words that don't result in leads

In fact, each word in your phrase could trigger its own set of search terms. So jeep could result in other makes of cars while repair could mean all sorts of things.

One of the most common results of a broad match campaign is that you show up for competitor’s names. Targeting a competitor’s name can be a tactic, but seldom an effective one. Most often these searches are by people looking for their number or their address. Only a small percentage of people might be on the fence about a service provider and who might choose you over the competitor they’re searching for.

Search terms are the actual words that people typed in that caused your ads to appear. You can see them in the search term report. Reading your report is often enlightening and could cause you to lose your appetite.

Why ever use broad match. It can help when you want to get a lot of clicks. It could also reveal relevant phrases that you hadn’t thought of.

I’ve used broad match under a few circumstances but under strict procedures. I bid lower and I review the search terms regularly, especially in the beginning. And I add a lot of negative keywords.

I recommend broad match if you have a small list of words to begin with and want to expand on them. Once you’ve expanded your list, however, you should use a different targeting option for your phrases.

Changing from broad match to phrase match or exact match is relatively easy. When you're logged into your account, click the keywords tab and then check the box right below the red keywords tab. This will put check boxes into all your keywords. Then click edit and change match type. By default it will change broad match to phrase match.

Three different ways to target keywords

If you have a limited budget or have a large list of keywords to target, then I’d recommend using the other options.

Changing from broad match to phrase match or exact match is relatively easy. When you're logged into your account, click the keywords tab and then check the box right below the red keywords tab. This will put checkboxes into all your keywords. Then click edit and change match type. By default, it will change broad match to phrase match.

Remember when editing any keywords that if you change their match type you lose the historical data on the keywords. This might not be of any concern to you, but for some, it might matter if they’re interested in comparing data.

Modified broad match provides you with a little more control. Unfortunately for this you have to take manual actions.

By adding a plus sign to some of the words you ensure that only those words trigger your ads. So +automobile +parts +sale means that only phrases that contains those three words will cause your ads to appear.

One advantage of this is that they words can be used in any order, something not possible with other match types.

Your ad could appear for automobile parts for sale, sale on automobile parts, etc.

It’s here that I should discuss close variants as it now involves all match types. This is how Google Ads defines close variants

•  Misspellings

•   Singular or plural forms

•   Stemmings (for example, floor and flooring)

•   Abbreviations

•   Accents

Close variants also include synonyms. The phrase automobile could be replaced by cars, auto, and possibly vehicle.

With phrase match, you have even more control over your words. If you’re targeting the phrase "air filters" these words must appear together and in that order. Yet, because its phrase match there could be words in front of or behind your phrase.

You could see your ad appearing for cheap air filters, Toyota air filters, or air filters on sale.

All of this is good except Google changed this in a dramatic way. Their site now tells us that your words could appear in a different order. They use the example of red shoes. In phrase match, your ad could appear for red shoes or running shoes red.

They also ignore certain words like a, an, the, in, to, the.

Exact match was the most restrictive and would usually result in the fewest number of impressions. Yet it’s also the match type that has undergone the most changes.

In the past, your ads would only appear if people used your specific keywords in the specific order you had them. If you had [red air filters] your ad would appear for that phrase and nothing but that phrase. Nothing in front, nothing behind and in that specific order. That is no longer the case.

The advantage to exact match was the control it provided advertisers. You knew what exact phrases would trigger your ads. Obviously, it meant few searchers, but you knew exactly under what conditions your ads would show.

Google would ultimately change this. Now synonyms could trigger your ads. If you target the exact phrase Personal Injury Lawyer, you could also show for Personal Injury attorney. On the face of it, this seems relatively benign as after all lawyers and attorneys are the same.

Google can also show your phrases in different order. They even show this in recommendations when they warn you about redundant phrases.

Exact match now allows for implied words, misspellings, and change in order.
Exact match no longer means exact

There can be instances when words rearranged take on an entirely different meaning. Oil change could be someone looking to have the work done by someone else. Change oil could be someone looking to do it themselves.

Implied words also relate to exact match. They’ll show a phrase that lacks one of your words simply because the search implied the same things.

Finally, your exact match phrase might result in another phrase being shown if it's considered to be the same search intent. They provide the example of [images royalty free] also showing on searches for “free copyright images.”

This is why the search term report is crucial reading even if you’re using exclusively exact match. What Google’s algorithm might consider a phrase to the same as an exact phrase you’re targeting might not actually be the same.

Why all the changes to keyword match types? Google makes money when there are more clicks and by doing all these changes, they increased the number of searches for all keywords, no matter what the match type.

The changes made it easier for marketers who weren’t seeing enough searches for their keywords.

Yet, with so many variations you can also be showing more for phrases that don't apply. One report stated that "nearly 40% of exact match search queries now come from close variants, and, more importantly, conversion rates are 10-15% lower."

Should You Use Keyword Match Types in the Same Ad Group

In a number of circumstances, you might want to have a keyword phrase under more than one match type. You believe the exact match a phrase converts higher, but phrase match of that same term can result in more searches.

The question then is if you should have these various match types in the same ad group. For the most part I don’t have a problem with combining various match types in the same ad group provided the ads properly reflect the intent of the search types.

What you don’t want to do is bid the same for all the keyword match types.

The Different Costs Involved with Keyword Match Types

I mentioned earlier that you should bid lower on broad match keywords. For one, its because it can often result in misguided search terms. And also, because there are more searches involved.

As you restrict the keyword match type, the higher the cost per click usually is. Its because there are fewer searchers involved. It means they’re more competitive because they involve fewer searches.

The Most Important Keyword Match Type - Negative Keywords

For all the changes to keyword match type, there is still a solution to avoiding wasted spend. Negative keywords.

In looking at the words your prospects used that triggered your ads you’re bound to find a number that doesn’t apply. This is especially true if you’re using broad match, which is why you don’t want to use it too long. Yet, even with modified broad and phrase match, you’ll find a phrase that doesn’t apply.

For example, you’re using the word "rubber tracks" because you sell them for construction equipment. Yet, a searcher typed in rubber tracks for exercise equipment and by clicking on your ad, cost you money.

Using a word that doesn’t apply as a negative word means your phrase won’t appear. In the previous example just adding exercise equipment as a negative keyword will block all phrases that contain that term.

Be aware that Google has a double standard when it comes to negative keywords. Close variants don’t apply. Adding bags doesn’t block bag. And while all manner of misspellings can trigger your keywords you literally have to add every variation to your negative keyword list to block them.

Negative match is a great way not only to avoid wasted clicks but to lower your overall impressions and potentially improve your click-through rate. Simply adding the keyword exercise to your keyword list will prevent the above phrase from triggering your ads again.

In most cases, you simply want to add a single keyword as a negative keyword without any quotation marks or brackets.

There times when you want to block a phrase. Blocking the word how would prevent words like how much does an oil change cost (potentially a beneficial phrase) but adding “how to” would block a phrases like how to change oil yourself or how to do an oil change (phrases not beneficial).

Using exact match in negative keywords helps to prevent a change in your keyword order. [Change oil] would block this order, but not oil change.

With negative keywords, however, you can run the risk of accidentally blocking some of the phrases you’re currently targeting.

Keywords are what drive your Google AdWords campaign, or your Bing Ads campaign. Getting them right is crucial for having a successful pay per click campaign. t's why you want to focus on your most profitable keywords.

Struggling with managing Google Ads. Then hire a Google Ads Consultant to manage your campaign or provide guidance.