Keyword Options

Inside your Pay per Click (PPC) campaign(s) on Google Adwords when it comes to "Keywords" the default setting is for "Broad Match" but there are three other options.

I therefore intend in this article to explain the difference between the four choices so you can get an idea when each of them might be advantageous to you.

Keyword Match Types

Broad Match

If we take the example of somebody selling Garden Sheds if he/she has the keyword garden shed set on Broad Match then it means that if anyone types the words "garden" and "shed" in any order even if it's mixed up with other words then that would trigger the advert to be shown

So for example all these search enquiries would trigger the advert.

garden shed

garden storage shed

garden shed online

buy garden shed

how do I build a shed in the garden

I need to shed some light on my garden

As you can see some of the above would potentially be customers but some would not.

The advantage/disadvantage for the broad match option is that it shows your advert to the widest possible number of search queries. It's a bit like blasting a double barrel shot gun at a target you are bound to hit the bullseye with some of the pellets but a lot will miss the target altogether.

If you are trying to keep costs down to a minimum, and most people are, then this may not be your best option.

Remember people looking for "i need to shed some light on my garden" are unlikely to click on your advert but that means that by showing your advert to more and more people who don't click on your ad then your "Click Through Rate" (CTR) will be lower and that in turn reduces your Quality Score and Ad Rank.

If you have seen all of my video tutorials you will know that ultimately that will have an overall negative impact on your campaigns performance.

Broad Match Modifier

This is a bit like a halfway house between Broad Match and Phrase Match. By putting the + symbol directly in front of a word (no space so +shed not + shed) in a broad match keyword means that word must appear in the search term or a very close variant. 

Phrase Match

Phrase match means that the advert is only triggered if the search term contains the 2 words (garden & shed) in the CORRECT order and WITHOUT any words in between, though there can be words before and after.

So of the search terms used above in the broad match examples only the following would have triggered the advert.

garden shed

garden shed online

buy garden shed

Exact Match

This keyword option is the most severe and as the name suggests only the exact keyword in the right order with no other words before or after would trigger the advert. This means your ads will be triggered far less and your CTR should be higher assuming your advert contains the keyword(s) and is eye-catching.

However if you see the image below you do have the option to set it to "close variants" so that garden shed and garden sheds would both trigger the ad. Close variants also means for example wash and washing so if your keyword was car wash the search term car washing would also trigger it.


The misspellings is a pretty good option as quite a high number of searches are misspelt. According to Google's figures it's around seven percent but the figure increases significantly the longer the search term.

How to Add them to your Keyword Lists

So if we take the search term garden sheds as an example this is how you would add it into your keyword list in a way that Google would understand which type of keyword it is.

Broad match = garden sheds

Broad match Modifier = garden +sheds

Phrase Match = "garden sheds"

Exact Match = [garden sheds]


The " " means phrase match. The [ ] means exact match. The + means that word must be in for broad match modifier and just the words on their own means broad match.

See image below.


Suggested Reading

If you are keen to improve your PPC campaigns performance then I suggest you read my article on negative keywords as well.

See what my PC Management Service can offer you here.