What are Google Match Types?

Part 2


June, 2020

Phrase match and exact match types are the narrowest of the 4 Google search ad keyword match types. Before proceeding, we recommend reading our last post about broad match and broad match modifier match types, the loosest of the match types. We explained that match types are a vital component of your keyword targeting strategy, and that match types are modifications that you make to keywords that effect how broad or narrow your keywords are interpreted by Google Ads.

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


  • Phrase Match, “keyword”
  • Exact Match, [keyword]


Continuing with the previous (totally serious) example of a cheese sculpting business that we’ve used in previous posts about keyword selection, 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.


Phrase Match
To make your keywords broad match, place them in quotation marks. Like broad match modifier, this will only allow words with the same meaning as your keywords. However, unlike BMM, phrase match will not allow extra words between your keywords. It will only allow them before or after your keywords.


In other words, phrase match tells Google you want an unbroken keyword phrase to be in the search query. However, Google will allow some rearrangement of those keywords with prepositions like “on” and “for” that it believes the searcher’s intent matches your keyword.


For example, the phrase match keyword “corporate catering” can trigger ads for local corporate catering, corporate caterers near me, and catering for corporations in St. Cloud, MN. It would not trigger ads for corporate event catering or corporate cheese tray catering because of the words between your keywords.

“The advantage of using phrase match and exact match is that you can tightly focus your keyword targeting on searchers with the intent to buy your product or service.”

Exact Match
To make your keywords exact match, place them in brackets. Exact match is the narrowest of the match types, but it still allows for words with the same meaning as your keywords. It does not allow extra words before, in-between, or after your keywords. However, just like phrase match keywords, it allows for prepositions and rearrangement.


For example, [cheese platters] could trigger ads for searches including platters of cheese, cheese platters, and cheese platter. [Corporate catering] could trigger ads for catering for businesses, and corporate catering. Very few other searches can trigger your ads.


The advantage of using phrase match and exact match is that you can tightly focus your keyword targeting on searchers with the intent to buy your product or service. The disadvantage is that you can miss searches that you didn’t find in your keyword research that could have led to good leads.


Generally speaking, if you use phrase match and exact match, you will need to find more keywords in order to show your ads, and that will take more time to research, but it will allow you finer control of your audience. If you use broad match and broad match modifier keywords, you can use fewer keywords, but you will need to spend more time managing your ads over time.


So, how do you get your message in front of the right audience and not miss anybody? First, take your time with your keyword research and selection. Second, use a mix of keyword match types. Initially, try focusing on phrase match keywords and sprinkle in a few broad match modified and some exact match keywords. You can edit your match types later, or you can also add negative keywords!


And if you need a little more help, you can always contact us at 320-217-8883.


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