Keyword Match Types And When To Use Them

So you’ve done your keyword research, and you think you have a pretty good, relevant set to run with. But you still have a few choices to make. For starters, what type of keyword match type should you use? Here’s a breakdown of all the PPC keyword match types, and the kinds of situations they are useful for:

  • Broad Match: The default match type for the search engines, and for good reason: they generate a lot of clicks, which means a lot of money for the search engines. Having keywords set at broad match means that the search engines will make a rough approximation of what they think is relevant to your chosen keyword. And they will probably make a very liberal interpretation of what is relevant. I’ve pored through search query reports and seen broad match furniture keywords show ads under a search query for housewife porno. Do you really want your ads showing up for everything? Stay away from broad match if you’re on a tight budget and can’t afford any extra wasted clicks.

    Broad match does have it’s uses, though. If you’ve got a large enough budget and can afford to waste a little of it in the name of research, broad match can be a fantastic keyword research tool. Since it picks up everything, including those super-obscure long tail keywords that you probably wouldn’t think of targeting, you can run a set of broad match keywords for 30 days or so and then analyze your search query reports to see what you missed in your initial keyword set. Then, you can add those missed keywords in, change everything to a more specific match type, and run a more efficient campaign.

  • Phrase Match: Phrase match is a good middle-of-the-road solution to the match type problem. Under phrase match, a user’s search query must match the keywords you specified (including word order), although your ads will also show if they add more keywords before or after the keyword(s) you specified. For example, if you were bidding on “pizza delivery,” your users would see your ads if they typed in “pizza delivery in austin,” but they wouldn’t see your ad if they typed in “delivery pizza” or “pizza fast delivery.”

    Phrase match is good because it filters out a lot of that weird, marginally-relevant traffic that broad match brings in, but it still allows you some leeway to overlook some terms that a user could type in. It’s a good idea to start out new campaigns with phrase match, and then switch later to either broad or exact match if you decide that you need more or less traffic to your site.

  • Exact Match: If you’re having a lot of trouble with unqualified traffic, exact match is the way to go. Keywords set to exact match will show ads when the user types in a search query that matches your keyword, and nothing more. You’re going to block out a lot of traffic with this setup, but if you see a lot of junk traffic coming through in your search query reports, sometimes you need to take drastic measures to keep your cost down.

  • Negative Matches If you see a few troublesome search queries in your reports, but don’t want to take a measure as drastic as setting everything to exact match, then some creative use of negative keywords may be in order. Negative keywords prevent ads from showing whenever a search query contains a keyword listed in your negatives. You can also set negative keyword match types for more precise targeting – negative match types have the same effect as the ones mentioned above.

Yahoo Search Marketing has some special match types, since they don’t use the broad/phrase/exact standard that Google and MSN adhere to. Here are the Yahoo match types:

  • Standard: Standard match functions almost like the aforementioned exact match type, but allows for plurals. For example, if you were bidding on the keyword “lamp,” a user that typed in “lamps” would not see your ad under the exact match type, but would see it under the “standard” match type.

  • Advanced: Advanced match type works like the broad match type. Your ads will show if a user misspells their search query or appends additional words before, after, or in between the keyword phrase you’re bidding on.

As with any pay per click marketing strategy, it’s important to test out different match types to see which one works best for each campaign. These instructions should give you a good starting point, but don’t forget to analyze those search query reports to make sure your keywords are driving the kind of quality traffic you need.

About Shawn Livengood

Shawn Livengood is a search engine marketing professional based in Austin, Texas. He has extensive experience managing pay-per-click ad campaigns for clients in various industries, from small home-based businesses to large international companies. You can connect with Shawn on Google+.
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