Google Keyword Match Types

Keyword Matching Types

Keywords are words or phrases used to match ads with the terms for which people are searching. The keyword match types determine how closely the keyword must to match with the user’s search so that the ad can be included in the auction. For example, Broad Match will serve your ad to a wide range of user searches or Exact Matches to target specific user searches.

Broad Match

With Broad Match, ads may show on searches related to your keyword, including searches not containing the keyword terms. This helps you drive more visitors to your website and makes it easier to build keyword lists. Broad Match is the default match type. Example of how Broad Match works:

No syntax is required for Broad Match. To deliver relevant matches, this match type also considers:

  • User’s recent search activities
  • Content of the landing page
  • Other keywords in an ad group

Phrase Match

Phrase Match enables advertisers to be included in more searches than Exact Match but fewer than Broad Match. Ads may be shown if the keywords are included in the same order as specified. They also show for  searches that include the meaning of your keyword.

The syntax for Phrase Match is to place quotes around each keyphrase, e.g, “tennis shoes”. For example:

Exact Match

Exact Match keywords will only trigger an ad when the user searches for the precise phrase or keywords specified. This gives the most control over when your ad is served but you will reach fewer searches than Phrase or Broad Match. Ads may also appear on searches with the same meaning or intent as the keyword.

The syntax for Exact Match is square brackets, e.g. [red shoe]. Below is an example of Exact Match in use:

Negative Match

A key element to creating a highly targeted campaign is choosing what not to target. Negative keywords let you prevent your ads from appearing for specific search terms and let you focus on keywords that deliver a better ROI.

When generating negative keywords, consider search terms similar to your keywords but used to search for different products. For example, if you are a seller of reading glasses, you might want to add negative keywords for similar but irrelevant search terms such as wine glasses and drinking glasses.


  • Carefully choose your negative keywords. If you specify too many negative keywords, your ads will not receive much traffic
  • Negative keywords do not match close variants, so your ad might still be served for searches that contain close variations of your negative keywords.
  • Negative keywords do not work if the user is beyond the 16th word of a keyphrase

Types of negative keywords

Negative keywords can use Broad Match, Phrase Match or Exact Match types. However, these match types work differently from positive keywords as the exact keywords to be excluded must be specified. Google does not exclude variations, plurals etc. by default.

Negative Broad Match

For negative Broad Match keywords, your ad will not be served if the search contains all your negative keyword terms, even if the terms are in a different order. Your ad may still show if the search includes only some of your keyword terms.

Negative Broad Match keyword: running shoes

SearchCould an ad show?
blue tennis shoesYes
running shoeYes
blue running shoesNo
shoes runningNo
running shoesNo

Negative Phrase Match

For negative Phrase Match keywords, your ad will be shown if the search contains the exact keywords in the same order. The search may include other words, but the ad will not be served provided all the keywords are searched in the same order.

Example Negative Phrase Match keyword: “running shoes”

SearchCould an ad show?
blue tennis shoesYes
running shoeYes
blue running shoesNo
shoes runningNo
running shoesNo

Negative Exact Match

For negative Exact Match keywords, your ad will not be served if the search contains the exact keywords, in the same order, without any additional words. Your ad may still be shown if the search includes the keyword terms with additional words.

Example Exact Match negative keyword: [running shoes]

SearchAd shown?
blue tennis shoesYes
running shoeYes
blue running shoesNo
shoes runningNo
running shoesNo

Symbols in negative keywords

Only three symbols, ampersands (&), accent marks (á) and asterisks (*) can be used in negative keywords. Negative keywords with accents are considered two different negative keywords, e.g. pavement cafe and pavement café. Also, “socks & shoes” is different to “socks and shoes”.

Note:  Other symbols will be ignored or may cause an error.

Display Campaign Negative Keywords

For Display campaigns, a set of negative keywords will be excluded as an exact topic. Ads will not show on a page even if the same keywords or keyphrases are not on the page explicitly, but the subject of the content is strongly related to the excluded set of negative keywords.



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