Once you have had your AdWords campaigns running for a few months, you should have enough data to start optimizing.  Using keyword match types can help you get more (or less) out of your keywords to improve your financial performance.  When you start your campaign and build your ad groups, ads, and keyword lists, I would strongly recommend sticking to the broad match keyword type, which is the default.  This will give you the most exposure and the most data to evaluate your performance.

For the purposes of some fictional examples, we are an online retailer of baseball gloves.  We are using Google AdWords to attract people to our site who want to purchase a new baseball glove.

Broad Match Keyword Type

Google will attempt to match your broad match keyword with as many closely related terms as possible, including synonyms of the words in your keyword phrase, and searches which contain some of your words.  A keyword such as baseball glove could potentially display your add for searches such as softball glove, baseball mitt, baseball gloves, baseball batting gloves, gloves for baseball.  A short keyword phrase, one, two, or even three words, may trigger your ad for the widest possible search terms.  The negative side is your ad may be triggered for searches you really don’t want, potentially costing you pay per click dollars or click through rates.  For example, the same keyword from above, baseball glove, could trigger your add for terms such as history of the baseball glove and how are baseball gloves made.

To use broad match keywords, simply enter the keyword without any other symbols or modifiers (which are used for other keyword match types).

Phrase Match Keyword Type

If you need a little more control, phrase match keyword match type eliminates a lot of terms by requiring that your entire keyword phrase is contained in the search term.  Using our “baseball glove” example, searches such as baseball player gloves, baseball golden glove winners, and gloves for baseball would not trigger your ad while searches such as baseball glove sizes, types of baseball glovesbaseball glove for kids, and leather baseball glove could trigger your ad.  

To specify the Phrase Match keyword type, simply put the double quote symbols at the beginning and end of the phrase, “baseball glove”.

Exact Match Keyword Type

The greatest amount of control is the exact match keyword match type.  It will also deliver, in most cases, the lowest amount of search impressions as it will only consider your ad for searches that exactly match the keyword phrase.  This match type is best used when your audience searches for a specific item, or when your product mix is quite narrowly defined.  Sometimes it can be useful to use the exact keyword match type when you are running a promotion or perhaps you have some specific traffic types that you want to drive to a specific landing page.  In our example, you could be running a promotion for Youth/Kids Baseball Gloves.  In this example, you might set up an Ad Group specifically to drive traffic to a suitable landing page with exact match keywords such as [kids baseball gloves], [baseball gloves for kids], and [youth baseball gloves].  You would not want to drive traffic to this landing page (which is all about Kids Baseball Gloves) for search terms such as professional model baseball gloves, so you would make the keywords very specific.

To specify the Phrase Match keyword type, simply put the square bracket symbols at the beginning and end of the phrase, [baseball glove].

Negative Keywords

Probably the least used keyword match type is negative keywords, but potentially the most valuable.  Negative keywords eliminate your ad from searches that do not have value to you.  In our example, negative keywords such as -used, -cheap, -secondhand, would all keep you from spending money on searchers who are not looking to buy a new baseball glove.  You can set negative keywords at both the campaign level (in the shared library) as well as the ad group level by using the minus sign before the words.