The different keyword match types on the Google Search Network

DSM Digital School of Marketing-Google Search Network

The manner in which Google Ads provides searchers with relevant advertisements is through the various search parameter that they put into the search engine. When you set up your Google Ads campaigns, as part of your digital marketing campaign, you will give a number of keywords to your campaign. This is as when a user’s search query matches, or contains some of, these keywords your advertisement will be shown.

There are a number of classifications under which you can categorise your keywords. In this article, we’ll chat about what these are. This addition, we’ll outline a fictional scenario to show you how these categories of keywords should be used.


Marco has elected to open a coffee shop with a delicatessen on the side. His friends have said to him that a Google Ads campaign – that targets people who live and work in the area that his business is in – is the best way to promote his shop. Joe has hired an experienced digital marketer – who has done some of the best digital marketing courses in the world – to put develop a digital marketing plan for his company.

Before the digital marketer embarks on setting up the Google Ads campaign for Marco’s business, he asks Marco what keywords he wants to utilise for his business. In other words, the digital marketer needs to get from Marco which keywords he would like to be:

  • Broad match,
  • Broad match modifiers,
  • Phrase matches,
  • Exact matches, and
  • Close match variants.

Broad match

Broad match keyword match types deliver the widest reach however have the least amount of relevance. This is because the keyword may not be included in the search term which your ad gets matched to as Google Ads may match your ad to any search term that it feels is appropriate when, in really, it isn’t. Instances of broad match keyword match types are:

  • Misspellings,
  • Synonyms, and
  • Related searches.

In Marco’s case, broad match keyword match types – to coffee shop – may be terms such as:

  • Café,
  • Coffee house,
  • Coffee bar,
  • Java shop,
  • Tea house, and
  • Tea room.

Broad match modifiers

With this category of keyword, you alter the broad match keyword by using certain keywords (or very close variants) that you need to be in your search term.

So if Marco was to add +coffee as well as +shop to his broad match keyword, he may be matched with search queries such as:

  • Shop for coffee, and
  • Coffee shop for sale.

Phrase matches

If you set a certain term as a phrase match, you just want your advertisement to be delivered to people who search for a term which has the specific phrase in it. No words must be included between the words of the phrase.

In Marco’s case, if he were to include the term ‘coffee shop’ as a phrase match on his digital marketing campaign, matches such as the following would be returned:

  • Local coffee shop,
  • Coffee shops near me, and
  • Coffee shops in Johannesburg.

Exact matches

Exact matches are the most pertinent for your business. However, they have the lowest reach. This is as they are more precise and, as such, only individuals who are serious about obtaining information about these particular items will make these searches.

For Marco, an exact match for [coffee shop] will be:

  • Coffee shop, and
  • Coffee shops.

Close match variants

Close match variants are quite similar to broad match keyword matches as well as broad match modifiers. However, these keywords do not include synonyms. They always match broad match keywords and broad match modifiers. You will be able to select if you want them to match exact as well as phrase matches.

Selecting the correct group of keywords for your Google Ads campaign is a crucial part of your digital marketing efforts. This is because if you choose the wrong keywords, you could end up blowing a lot of money before you correct this and start to reach the correct target market.

Get in touch with the Digital School of Marketing

If you’re still a bit uncertain of how to get this right, we strongly advise that you study a digital marketing course, such as the Digital School of Marketing’s Digital Marketing Course, to get on top of this.

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