What are Google Match Types?

Part 1


June, 2020

Using the right match types for Google search ad keywords is almost as important as the keywords themselves. Match types are modifications made to keywords that instruct Google Ads how to strictly or loosely to interpret your chosen keywords. They allow or disallow keyword variations to trigger your ads.

In this post, we are going to cover the 2 match types with the loosest interpretation, listed here with their symbols:


  • Broad Match, No special symbols
  • Broad Match Modifier, +keyword


You choose match types at the same time that you enter keywords when creating a Google search ad group. You type them in with their symbols in a list. In previous posts about keyword selection, we used the totally plausible example of a cheese sculpting business that makes custom cheese statues for catering. We’re going to use three of the keywords we selected, cheese catering, cheese platters, and corporate catering, to demonstrate how match types effect keywords.


Broad Match

By default, keywords that you enter without specifying a match type are broad match, so just type your keywords in, one per line. Broad match keywords allow for the loosest interpretation of the 4 match types. Your keyword just needs to be part of the search query. Broad match allows misspelling and close variants of your keywords to trigger your ads.


For example, the keyword cheese catering can trigger ads for searches including order cheese catering for party, best cheddar provisioning services, ungrated aged parmesan for caterers, and cheese fan clubs catering to narwhals.


This option gives your keywords the broadest reach, and will generally get your ads the most impressions. But you may sacrifice a lot of the work you did when choosing keywords. You don’t sell parmesan cheese to caterers; you are the caterer! And what if parmesan is not the best sculpting medium, so you don’t even carry parmesan? Broad match can be so broad that your ads can be triggered by completely outlandish searches, but you usually know that your ads are limited by your budget, not your keyword targeting.

“The advantage of using broad match or broad match modifier is the wide net you cast for searches.”

Broad Match Modifier
When entering keywords, use the broad match modifier by placing a “+” in front of each word in your keyword phrase. Broad match modifier keywords are interpreted more strictly than broad match keywords, but still give Google plenty of leeway. It excludes variants of your keywords, but allows words with the same meaning to trigger your ads. Broad match modifier still allows addition words to be in front of, in-between, or after your keywords.


For example, the keyword +cheese +platters can trigger ads for searches including cheese party platters, cheese and meat tray delivery, and local cheese and meat platter caterers. The keyword +corporate +catering could trigger ads for business catering service, or catering companies for corporations.


Notice how BMM would not trigger food platters or corporate foodservice, but broad match could have. That’s because the terms are related but they do not have the same meaning. BMM keywords will narrow your reach and not show your ads as often as broad match keywords, but you may still get some completely unrelated searches triggering your ads.


The advantage of using broad match or broad match modifier is the wide net you cast for searches. Broad match and BMM help if you are having trouble finding terms with good search volume, or you want to make sure no possible leads slip through the cracks in your keyword targeting. The disadvantage is that you can have searchers with no intent of ever becoming your customer clicking on your ads, which can soak up all of your budget.


So, how do you reap the benefits of broad match and avoid the pitfalls? You use a mix of match types! In our next post, we’ll explain the other two match types—phrase match and exact match types—which allow for narrower keyword targeting.

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