Choosing Match Types – What Should You Do?

Well that is a good question, and the reason is, because this is only one of the many ingredients in our special sauce. So even if you have a bit of time on your hands and want to try and have a go for yourself, then if you only take one thing away from reading this, let it be this.

There are three match types on Google; Broad, Phrase & Exact. Technically you could say there are 4 if you include Broad Match Modifiers.

A broad match modifier is a variation of broad match, which gives you slightly more control while having the benefit of spreading the net widely to pick up lots of traffic. So let’s explain the match types now.

Exact Match

Exact match simply means the keyword must match the search query of what the user searched on. If your keyword is carpet cleaner London, then in order for your keyword to be triggered to have a chance of being displayed (remember, it’s not a guarantee it will appear), the user must search CARPET CLEANER LONDON.

Phrase Match

Phrase match is similar to exact, BUT, its slightly widening the net. Using the same example above, your keyword will be triggered if it’s not broken, so if a user searches I NEED A CARPET CLEANER LONDON, then your keyword will be eligible to be displayed. So you are still keeping an element of control.

Broad Match

Using the same example above, your keyword which is made up of 3 words, can be broken and also matched to similar things. So if a user searched on SPECIALIST CARPET CLEANERS IN SOUTH LONDON, then it’s likely your keyword would be eligible to be displayed.

Legal disclaimer: This definition isn’t from Google, this is how we describe things from 15 years plus industry experience.

So let’s move on to best practice, and the secret ingredient.

Google will advise you to use all the match types (and we do too), but let’s get onto how this should be done.

So considering everything we’ve described here, when selecting match types. Each of the match types should have different levels of bids, because some are more valuable than others, which means you are willing to pay more for clicks which are more valuable. When we say more valuable we mean they are more likely to turn into a lead, and then ultimately turn into a paying customer.

So when selecting match types, exact match bids should be higher than phrase match, and phrase match bids should be higher than broad match bids. Simply because we would rather pay more for people which we know have searched on EXACTLY what you do.

So now we are getting to one of the secret sauces.

Use all the match types in your campaign, duplicate every keyword so it runs on each match type, but, how you should execute it IS the win.


Run a broad match campaign, phrase match campaign and exact match campaign. Each campaign has its own budget, so you can control how much you are spending on your quality traffic (exact) and how much you are spending on your broad traffic. The reason for this, is because you can use this broad campaign as an exercise to find new keywords (check search queries in the campaign)

Now we get onto the fun part, when creating your broad and phrase match campaign, upload the exact match keywords as exact match negatives.

Search Engines will show you the message “your keywords cannot be displayed due to negative keywords” (or something like that), but don’t worry, ignore it.

This is where we are removing any control which the search engines have. Your broad and phrase campaigns can now only display for exactly what we want them to do. These can pick up the queries which we couldn’t have thought of,


And remember the bids have been set lower here, just in case it matches to something not entirely relevant. Then once a week do a simple exercise checking what search queries have triggered your keywords, and if there’s things you don’t like, simply increase your negative keyword list.

As for the exact match campaign, we are using this to bid aggressively on matching to the users we categorically know are more valuable because we are only being matched to people that searched on exactly what we set as the keyword.

You may be asking yourself, well surely the search engines do this accordingly.

No – not always