ppc match types

PPC match types

By Paul Morris
image: webranking.com

I’m still not convinced that most digital folk know much about PPC match types; particularly the underutilised Broad match modifier.  As a result I thought I’d put a post together about match types with particular focus on Broad Match Modifier.

Broad Match

This is the default option and the one that flushes your cash down the toilet unless you use it  ‘broadly’ at the start of a campaign to learn more quickly about the targeted sector or you use LOTS of negative keywords, and dynamic keyword insertion, to accompany broad match targeting.

If your ad group contained the keyword ‘wool jumper’ then a user would see your advert if their search query contained either or both words. Your ads could also show for singular, plural and synonyms.

Broad Match Keyword:

Wool Jumper

Ads may show on searches for:

Wool jumper

Wool sweater



Jumper the movie

Knitting wool

Phrase Match

If you enter your keyword in quotation marks e.g. “wool jumper” your ppc ad could appear if the user searches for the phrase wool jumper. The ad could also appear for searches containing other terms as long as it contains the exact specified phrase.

Phrase match keyword:

“wool jumper”

Ads may show on searches for:

cheap wool jumper in mauve
buy wool jumper
Aquascutum wool jumper review

Ads won’t show on searches for:

Jumper made of wool
woollen jumpers
wool sweater

Phrase match is more targeted than broad, yet more flexible than exact match. Clearly though you need to be aware (as shown above) that your advert will sometimes not show for highly relevant/ similar searches if using phrase match when compared to broad match or broad match modifier.  

Exact Match

Encase your keywords in brackets and voila you have exact match e.g. [wool jumper]. Your ad will appear when someone searches for that specific keyword string ‘wool jumper’ only.

Exact match keyword:

[wool jumper]

Ads may show on searches for:

Wool jumper

Ads won’t show on searches for:

Cheap wool jumper in mauve
wool jumpers
Aquascutum wool jumper review

I like exact match if you have really done your homework and analysed your market/ have LOTS of keywords and also keep doing alot of additional keyword research; otherwise you will significantly cut down your potential market size.     

Negative Match

If your keyword is ‘wool jumper’ and you add a negative keyword such as ‘-Aquascutum’ your ad will not appear for any searches that contain the word ‘ Aquascutum’.


Wool jumper
– Aquascutum

Ads may show on searches for:

buy wool jumper
Jumper the movie

Ads won’t show on searches for:

Cheap Aquascutum wool jumper
buy XL Aquascutum wool jumper

Negative keywords are massively important and if you are not using them then you are stupid!  

Broad Match Modifier

Use the plus (+) sign with your keywords to utilise broad match modifier.

There are 3 types of broad match modifier:

Fully Modified Broad Match

e.g. + mauve +wool +jumper. Here the order of keywords doesn’t matter, variations on spelling or plural versions doesn’t matter and query terms that interrupt the keyword string do not matter. Therefore your ad could show for:

mallow wool jumper (not tried but it should show up as mallow is another name for mauve), wool mauve jumper, wool mauve jumpers, mauve teal wool jumper.  

This is the most restrictive of the three types of modified broad match and most similar to phrase match.

Dual Anchor Modified Broad Match

Here we have at least two modified + keywords. E.g. + mauve wool +jumper. This is moving slightly more to the dark side of broad match as one word (wool) behaves as a broad match keyword. i.e. it does not have to be in the query. The other two keywords (mauve and jumper) need to be in the query (in any order, variation and/or plural)

Searches that would trigger the ad include: mauve jumper, mauve polyester jumper, mallow jumper with frilly cuffs and jumper in mauve with Velcro nipple holes.

Anchor Modified Broad Match

Last and unfortunately not least is the most chilled out of the modifier match types; anchor modified broad match. Here only one modified keyword has to appear in the search query. E.g. mauve wool +jumper means that only jumper has to appear resulting in ads appearing for searches including: jumpers, polyester jumper in yellow and jumpers film review.

This is my least favourite broad match modifier.  

Key benefits of Broad Match Modifier:

For those using phrase or exact match it will open up your campaign to more volume

For those using Broad match it will potentially give more control, fewer clicks and higher ROI for your campaigns.

By releasing Broad Match Modifier Google was not really looking for people using broad match to use it (as it would generally cost Google money); rather the people (good agencies in particular) using exact and phrase match who had been put off by past broad match misdemeanours to give ‘broad match’ another chance.