One of the easiest tasks in setting up a Google Ads campaign is adding the keywords you want to target. After all, you simply type in the words, click save and they're added.

The problem 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 reason is that the default way in which your words are added is as broad match. This is good for Google, but not necessarily good for you.

By default Google Ads uses broad match when adding new keywords.
In adding keywords to Google Ads, the default type is broad match

Google allows you to use different match types for your keywords. The one they favor is the one least likely to succeed.

Each year I review hundreds of campaigns, and one of the biggest mistakes I see with their ads is their use of keywords.

If you’re not aware of the match types, you need to learn them. Right away.

If your already aware of the various match types, you might not realize the transformation they’ve all undergone.

Using the wrong match type could result in wasted spend.

Even using the correct match type, however, could result in showing up for words that don’t benefit you.

Which Keyword Match Type to Use

Different types of keyword match types in Google AdWords
The main three keyword match types in Google Ads

Google Ads initially allowed you four methods in which to target phrases and all had strengths and weaknesses.

This is about to change as they’re about to do away with one type.

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.

The lines between the various keyword match types have blurred.

The All-Encompassing Net Of Broad Match

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.

Google states that with broad match your ads may show for words that relate to your keyword. This is a very broad definition, no pun intended.

For example, you’re targeting the phrase Fresno movers.

Broad match results in many words that don't apply.

The words that this phrase triggered involved everything from homes for sale to competitor names and businesses not related to movers.

Certainly a home for sale would likely involve a mover, but a search for a home in Fresno stands a remote chance of one actually being hire.

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 actually choose you over the competitor they’re searching for.

You have to understand that word you target is a search keyword.

Search terms are the actual words that people typed in that caused your ads to appear.

The difference between the two can be huge.

Another drawback to broad match is that they tend to have much lower Quality Scores.

That's because there is such a volume of potential searches for a broad match keyword that your ads aren't going to be relevant to many of the phrases.

Broad match can also result in your ad appearing for services you don't offer.

Grout cleaning isn't anything like carpet cleaning

Why ever use broad match?

Broad match does get a lot of clicks and as a result could provide relevant phrases that you had not thought of.

I use broad match in a few circumstances but under strict conditions. I bid lower and I review the search terms regularly, especially in the beginning.

And I add a lot of negative keywords. I’ll discuss negative keywords shortly.

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 you should use a different targeting option for your phrases.

It's easy to edit keywords in bulk

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.

When editing a keyword you will lose the historical data on that keyword, such as click through rate and conversions.

This might not be of any concern to you, but for some, it might matter if they’re interested in comparing data.

If this is the case, pause the broad match phrases and add them manually as the match type you prefer.

Understanding Close Variants in Google Ads

It’s here that I should discuss close variants as it 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 variant also includes synonyms. The phrase automobile could be replaced by cars, auto, and possibly vehicle.

The use of close variants insures that your words will appear in a lot more searches.

It's important to know that close variants don't apply to negative keywords.

The End of Broad Match Modified

Broad match modified provided you with a little more control. It also meant you had to take some manual action.

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

One advantage was that words could be used in any order, something not possible with other match types at the time.

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

Broad match modified is being phased out. That’s because phrase match will work in the same manner as broad match modified.

According to Google you can still use this match type until July.

That being said you might as well start using phrase match as this will now function in the same way.

The Evolution of Phrase Match

With phrase match, you have slightly more control over your words.

This control is gradually diminishing.

In the past if you targeted the phrase "air filters" these words would have to appear together and in that order.

With phrase match there can be words in front of or behind your phrase.

Your ad will appear 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. In effect its inheriting all the functionality of modified broad match.

This means words can appear in different order and with other words intermixed among them.

The phrase “maid cleaning service” could result in “cleaning service from a local maid company” or “maid service with carpet cleaning.”

In another words, your ads will now show in phrase match in the same manner that they would have in broad match modified.

If your phrase match takes on a different meaning if its reversed, then you need to add that as a negative keyword. Carpet cleaning indicates someone looking for help. Cleaning carpets might be someone wanting to do it themselves.

Course on golf is not the same as golf course.

As this transformation takes place expects to see the impressions for your phrase match keywords to go up.

The Control of Exact Match

Exact match is the most restrictive match type and results in the fewest number of impressions.

As with all match types it has undergone a massive transformation from what it used to mean.

The advantage to exact match was the control it provided advertisers.

In the past, your ads would only appear if people used your specific keywords in the specific order you had them.

You knew the exact phrases that triggered your ads. It meant fewer searchers, but you knew exactly under what conditions your ads would show.

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.

Now synonyms can trigger your ads.

If you target the exact phrase Personal Injury Lawyer, you can also show for Personal Injury attorney.

On the face of it, this seems relatively benign as after all lawyers and attorneys are the same.

For some businesses, however, the change could result in words that don’t benefit them.

For example, Google can also show your phrases in different order.

Oil change could be someone looking to have the work done by someone else. Change oil could be someone looking to do it themselves.

Google Ads often show in their recommendations how exact match has changed when they warn you about redundant phrases.

You can stop targeting some phrases because they’ll already be targeted by other phrases.

Exact match no longer means exact match

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.

The word being targeted is [custom shirts for women] but the resulting phrases could include “women’s custom shirts,” “design shirts for women” and “personalized women’s shirts.”

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."

Why all the changes to keyword match types?

Google makes money when there are more clicks.

By doing all these changes they’ve increased the number of potential searches for 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.

Should You Use Keyword Match Types in the Same Ad Group

There are certain advantages to having keywords targeted under more than one match type.

Exact match phrases could convert higher, but phrase match of that same term will result in more searches.

Even with the changes to exact match it still is more specific. This means ads can be more specific as well. This means exact match can often convert higher.

Bid higher on exact matches, while bidding lower on the other match type to get more volume.

I don't recommend using broad match with either phrase or exact match. The reason is that broad match will result in a lot more clicks and potentially take budget away from your higher converting match types.

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 search terms 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.

With all match types, however, you’ll find searches that don’t apply to your business.

For example, you’re using the word "rubber tracks" because you sell them for construction equipment. A searcher typed in rubber tracks for exercise equipment. By clicking on your ad, you lost money.

Add exercise as a negative to block this phrase

Adding a word that doesn’t apply as a negative word means your phrase won’t appear for any phrase that contains that word.

In the previous example just adding exercise as a negative keyword will block any phrases that contain that word.

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. It’s often like whack a mole as more misspellings appear.

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.

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

There are times when you want to block a phrase.

Blocking the word how could prevent words like how much does an oil change cost (potentially a beneficial phrase).

Adding “how to” will block 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 you do run the risk of accidentally blocking some of the phrases you’re currently targeting. Google will alert you of this in their recommendations.

Keywords are what drive your Google Ads campaign, or your Microsoft Ads campaign.

Keywords are what drive your Google Ads campaign, or your Microsoft 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.