The Differences of Exact, Phrase, Broad Match Keywords

The Differences of Exact, Phrase, Broad Match Keywords

What’s the Difference Between Exact, Phrase, and Broad Match Keywords?

By now, most of us will already have a pretty good understanding of keywords. We know what keywords are; they’re the basis of every PPC ad; they’re at the heart of SEO; they’re how we build a connection between what we offer as a business, and the products, services, and solutions our target audience is currently searching for. 

However, here’s something that you may not know: there are a number of different degrees with which we can choose to have our keywords match with user searches when creating pay per click (PPC) ads, generating more chances for a connection. 

What is ‘Keyword Match’?

What do we mean by this? Well, consider the keyword ‘coffee beans’, for example. 

If you were to create a PPC ad for the term ‘coffee beans’, you’d expect to show up for searches where the user is searching for ‘coffee beans’, right? Of course you would. However, it’s important to remember that just because a specific keyword has a high search volume, not every single one of your potential customers will use it. 

Perhaps another user is searching for ‘roasted beans’ or even ‘coffee berries’, which have the same overall meaning as ‘coffee beans’ but don’t use that exact phrasing. If you were to match your keyword only to a single precise search term, you’d be failing to connect with what could be a big portion of your audience.

Similarly, some users may be searching for ‘ground coffee’. Now, even though you may not sell ground coffee, what you’ve got here is essentially a user who is already interested in the overall area that you operate in, and could be influenced to give coffee beans a try through some informative, educational, and persuasive content. Matching to a single term only alienates this entire subset of possible customers. 

Keyword Match Types Explained

The good news is that there are three different degrees of matching to choose from when developing a PPC ad: exact match, phrase match, and broad match.

  • Exact Match

This keyword match type will only display your ad for searches that exactly match your targeted keyword, or are so similar that they couldn’t possibly mean anything else (a minor spelling mistake like ‘cofee beans’ for example). Your ad will usually be displayed less often than with other match types, but to the most qualified leads. 

Why use it: To ensure you’re driving only traffic that is likely to convert to your website, reducing the risk of paying for clicks from those unlikely to take action. 

  • Phrase Match

This keyword match type will display not only for exact matches, but for other relevant searches that share the same meaning and include part of your keyword. Typically, phrase match will mean that your ads are being displayed for more searches, although the quality of the traffic may not be as good as for exact match.

Why use it: To reach more potential customers when you’re operating in a diverse industry with many possible search terms, rather than within a single, small niche. 

  • Broad Match

This keyword match type will display not only for exact and phrase matches, but for other searches that are loosely connected to your keyword. Your ad may be displayed to a very large number of searchers looking for associated solutions, although you may find that some of the searches are irrelevant to your business. 

Why use it: To boost familiarity and awareness of a brand, and build a strong online reputation. It may not provide the best ROI, but is the best for building a presence. 

Helpful Tip: Remember that, when using Google, broad match is the default setting. 

Why it Matters

As Google dives deeper and deeper into semantic search, it’s really homing in on the idea of broad match keywords. In organic search results, for example, pretty much every search today is treated as a broad match search. Google is so confident that its algorithm can detect meaning from user searches with accuracy that it can successfully match by meaning, rather than relying on the written text. 

And the truth is that it’s doing an excellent job of it. However, when it comes to PPC – a form of digital marketing that we pay for – we can’t always take that chance. We need to know that our budget is being driven into generating the types of clicks that help us achieve our goals, whether that’s increasing sales or maximising visibility. 

That’s what keyword match types are all about, and it’s why they’re so important today. Ultimately, they give us control over how our budget is used and provide an opportunity for us to build tailored PPC campaigns that really meet our needs. 

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