Google Ads basics: Making sense of Keyword Match types

Nick Fitzgerald

There is no doubt that when used properly, Google AdWords drives traffic to your website almost immediately.  However, one of the most frequent errors business owners new to AdWords is neglecting to leverage the available keyword matching types. It isn’t easy to choose the right keyword match types to trigger your advertisements, therefore we have compiled this guide to help you decide on how to select the appropriate match types for your hearing practice.

What are keyword match types?

They are settings you can put on your keywords which determine the types of searches that make your ads show up. Four main keyword matching types exist: Broad Match, Broad Match Modifier, Phrase Match, and Exact Match. Each type has its own benefits and drawbacks so it’s important to understand these so you know the best situations to use them.

1. Broad match

As the name suggests, this is the type which reaches the absolute widest audience. Your ad will turn up whenever any word in your phase is found, and in any configuration.

For example, if a user searched for ‘tinnitus treatments’, your ad will also show for ‘spa treatments’ and ‘causes of tinnitus’.  Synonyms are also taken into account, and your ad might also show for a search of ‘ringing in the ears’.

Although broad match brings your ad to a wide audience, it’s likely that a lot of people who see your ad will not be interested. Why? Because they are looking for spa treatments, not tinnitus treatments! But they may still click on your link, which means you will still have to pay for that click, this means your AdWords bill will likely soar if you only use this keyword match type. You therefore need to be careful to modify it to encourage more relevant clicks (see next match type).

That being said, broad match is a good way to encourage a lot of people to view your site, if you’re looking for the absolute widest level of exposure.

2. Modified broad

This type is a compromise between broad match and the narrower match types detailed below. Although similar in principle to the broad match, you are able to add a ‘+’ sign next to certain words so that they are definitely included in any search.

3. Phrase match

This matches keywords in the specific order of the search term, and it could include different words before or after the phrase too, as long as the search term remains intact.

For example, if your key phrase was “hearing loss”, your ad could appear when a user searched for ” hearing loss”, “hearing loss facts”, or “noise-induced hearing loss”, but not for searches like “hearing aids”, “hearing treatments”, or “loss of hearing”.

4. Exact match

This match type triggers your ad when the exact phrase or a close match is found. The close matches find words with the same meaning as the search term, irrespective of spelling and grammar differences. This might mean your ad is shown if the same ‘intent’ is there, even if certain words are missing, or synonyms or paraphrase are used instead.

Brackets to designate an exact keyword match type. For example: [Age-related hearing loss]. This phrase used as an exact match might trigger ads on searches like: “presbycusis”, “hearing loss in old age”, “problems hearing in older adults”, and so forth.

Negative keyword match types

Adding a negative keyword to an ad group will remove your ad from showing up for search queries connected to that keyword.

  • Negative broad match: The most restrictive negative option. Your ads won’t show for search queries that have the entire phrase you specify. Google will also remove those search terms that have the keyword with words after or before.
  • Negative phrase match: Using this won’t trigger your ads for search terms if they include the exact phrases of your keyword and in the same order.
  • Negative exact match: This is your best bet if you don’t want to eliminate too many potential matches. It removes only the terms that contain the exact phrase, in the correct order.

Why it is it important to consider keyword match types?

Taking advantage of Google Ads/AdWords match types is extremely important because it helps you get to your potential hearing aid customers without spending unnecessary money on clicks from irrelevant customers. Remember that in PPC marketing, you have to pay money for each click, so it makes sense to maximize the chances that the person clicking is genuinely interested in the products and services your practice has to offer.


Now you have an overview of how each match type works. But when is the best time to use each match type? Choosing the best keyword match type for the right circumstance is challenging work, and beyond the scope of this article.

How about some help? We’ve been helping local hearing practices run successful PPC/AdWords campaigns for years. Contact us to see how we can help drive more quality clicks to your website.