Differences between Keyword match types

Keywords help determine what ads are displayed to users that are searching for certain terms. In order to choose which searches you want to trigger your ads, Google Ads lets you choose different types of keyword matching methods when adding keywords to your ad groups.

What are the 3 match types for keywords in Google Ads

There are various types of keyword match, which can determine whether your ad will show up or not, based on the user’s query (the words she typed on Google’s search bar, or the words she used to address Google Assistant, in the case of a voice search).

You have three possible search settings to choose from: broad match, phrase match and exact match. 

Broad match will serve your ad to a broader scope of input searches, while exact matches will provide a narrower, more specific spectrum – and phrase match will seat somewhere in the middle.

Let’s review the three matching types in detail, and learn about the pros and cons of each type

What is broad match in Google Ads, and when should we use it?

As stated before, Broad match is the broader and less restrictive way to target searches with Google Ads. When you use broad march, your ads may show on Google searches related to the concepts you are targeting, even if the specific query doesn’t include the keywords you are targeting with a broad match type.

Broad match is the default match type that all keywords are assigned to, unless you specify otherwise. If you want to specify a different matching method for a keyword, you will need to do it manually, or use the specific syntax to the other match types.

1. Broad match examples:

Let’s say you have a branding agency and you want to promote your services. If you use the keyword branding agency in broad match, some related keywords may trigger your ads, such as:

  • Graphic design agency
  • What is branding?

2. When to use Broad Match:

  • When you want to get maximum exposure: broad match helps you gain more impressions for your ads, which could mean attracting more visitors to your site.

  • When you want to spend less time building keyword lists. With broad match, you could simply use a few “head” terms and start seeing the results of your campaign, in order to refine later.

  • As a starting point to gather more specific, targeted or high-converting terms as the campaign develops. This is actually what OrbitalAds is excellent for, as it will identify all well-performing searches and automatically add them as exact match keywords to your campaign.

  • According to Google, broad march type works well with Smart Bidding, as the system may automatically adapt your bids, based on how likely it is that a query converts.

What is phrase match in Google Ads, and when should we use it?

Your ads might show on searches that include the meaning of the keyword you are targeting with phrase match. User queries may often be more specific than your targeted keyword, but still be a valid match for your desired search intent.

We could say that phrase match has the best of both worlds: it’s more open than exact match but more restricted than broad match. Which in terms of marketing reach, means that you can reach a larger audience using phrase match, but you’ll still be showing your ads to the people most likely to be interested in what you offer (and therefore, more likely to convert).

To use phrase match, put quotes around the keyword you’re looking for, as in “branding agency”.

1. Phrase match examples:

If you use the keyword “branding agency” in phrase match, some of the keywords that may trigger your ads would be:

  • branding agency in London
  • branding agency fees

2. When to use phrase match:

When you don’t want to spend too much time defining the keywords you want to target, yet you want to limit the number of potentially irrelevant searches that trigger your ads. Think: not too broad, but not too specific either.

What is exact match in Google Ads, and when should we use it?

One of the advantages of exact match is that it gives you more control over who sees your ads. Only searches with the same meaning or intent as your keyword may trigger your ad.

As for syntax, in order to use the exact match type you need to designate it with brackets, as in [branding agency].

1. Exact match examples

Search intent is what the user is trying to accomplish. For our [branding agency] example, there is the same intent behind these three queries, since the user is quite likely looking for the same thing:

  • branding agency
  • agencies that offer branding services
  • branding studio

2. When to use exact match:

  • When you want maximum control over the searches that trigger your ads.

  • When you don’t want to spend a single cent in users that are not 100% interested in what you offer. In such cases, you don’t mind spending time and effort refining your list of keywords, since you’re trying to make the most of a limited budget.

  • When you already know all or most of the keywords that convert, and you’re not actively looking for more keywords to enrich your campaign (it is rarely the case that you can’t add any more valuable keywords to your campaigns, check our post on how to scale up your Google Ads campaigns.


The three match types offered by Google Ads  give you plenty of options, you can have a lot of visibility, as well as control if that’s what you’re looking for – or you can aim for a middle-of-the-road kind of solution. It all comes down to knowing what your campaign, goals and budget call for.

If you should opt for broad match in the hopes of uncovering more valuable terms, remember that nothing beats OrbitalAds at this task, so make sure to give OrbitalAds a try.

Do you want to keep updated on how to improve your campaigns?

Don't miss our news!

Subscribe and we will send you monthly information about Machine Learning and more.

Other interesting resources.

  • Todos
  • Casos de estudio

Don't miss out on everything you can do with our tool.

Copyright ©. OrbitalAds.