Guide to keyword match types & negative keywords

Google search ads - Introduction

Google keyword match types – what are they?

  • Exact match
  • phrase match
  • Broad Match
  • Broad match modifiers

In Google search ads campaigns, there are many different targeting options are available. Keywords are the most common types in search ads targeting.


Keywords are the only & effective way to target in the google search terms. Here’s how to target a user on search ads campaigns using the keywords:

Keyword should not contain more than 10 words. To get effective keywords for the search ads targeting campaign, advertiser needs to think of as an user.

In this chapter, you will learn what are the types of queries & how to use keywords in search ads targeting.

Assume that you run ad campaigns to sell books,

You should think of what are the keywords user would type in google to buy a book.

I would like to think,

Buy books

[Best book ] to [buy]

[Books ] for [childrens ]

[Books ] for  [newbies ]

If you look at the above keywords, it will a combination of  Intent + Adjective + demographic order could be varied but the good keywords will contains some of those.

Let’s examine those elements,

Intent = your keyword should contain the intent which should also match what’s the action you want the user to do. ( for example, download, buy, signup)

Adjective = some users will prefer affordable (cheap), or best products. This will help you to segment your customers. Whether to target the affordable users or users who seek best products.

Demographics = This element will help you to identify a demographics. For example books for elders, books for kids, books for business, books for professionals are need to be addressed separately. This element will help you to segment which type of demographics to serve your ads to.

How to get intent keywords.

Once you are familiar with the keyword elements, you need to select the right type of keywords.

These are the types of search queries in the google:

  • Transaction
  • Informational.
  • Navigational

Transnational type of keywords will be like buy, download.

Informational type of keywords are mostly the “how to ” type keywords.

Navigational type of keywords contains keywords like “.com” & “www”

From the above classification, you can carefully use transactional and informational type of queries in your search campaigns. You will likely to get more conversions using the transactional keywords than informational ones. Navigational keywords will unlikely to give you results.

Keyword Match Types

Google offers you 3+ ways to target the users based on the keywords they are tying into the google search engine.

Why Match types?

keyword match types - exact
No ! not this match type

You may ask why there’s 3+ plus keyword match types and why not one. To simply put the success of the search campaign is determined by the gap between the keywords and search terms.

Generally in the search campaign perspective, keywords are something advertisers would think their target audience would type in. So they want google to show the ads when the keyword was typed in.

Search term is generally referred as what is the actual queries user was types in the google search engine that was matched with the advertiser specified keyword.

That match between the advertiser guess and the actual user queries was connect using match types. That’s how the match types works to help advertiser to serve good ads to right audience.

How match type works?

There’s totally 4 match types .

Exact Match

search targeting -broad match modifiers

How to use exact match?

You the keyword which you want to use within square bracket. [buy books]

How exact match type works?

Google shows ad to an user when his search query matches exactly with advertiser’s keyword – if the keyword is in exact match type. Like this [buy books]

User -queryAdvertiser- keywordMatch typeResult
Buy book Buy bookexactwork
Buy booksBuy bookexactWon’t work
Book buyBuy bookexactWon’t work
buyBuy bookexactWon’t work

For google to trigger an ad with exact match keywords, user query has to match the keyword exactly.

When to use  exact match keywords:

when the keyword has more than 10K monthly search volume,  you can use the exact match. With more than 10k monthly search volume, you will be getting relevant clicks and decent amount of clicks.

Phrase match

google search targeting -Phrase match

How to use phrase match in the keyword.

You just have to put the targeting keyword in the quotes “buy book”

How phrase match keyword works?

Google shows ad to an user when his search query matches exactly with the user specified keyword in the same order but can also contain other words.- if the keyword is in phrase match.

When to use phrase match in the keywords:

When the keywords has the monthly search volume of less than 10k , you can use phrase match to carter all those other variations of the keywords.

What’s the difference between exact match and phrase match ?

In exact match, the keyword and search search terms should be identical for an ad to trigger. It doesn’t allow plurals, misspellings and other variants.

In phrase match, keyword and search term should match exactly with the keyword that is specified in the double quotes but also contains other works.

User -queryAdvertiser- keywordMatch typeResult
Buy bookBuy bookexactAd will be shown
Buy booksBuy bookexactAd won’t be shown
Buy booksBuy bookphraseAd will be show
Buy books for freeBuy bookphraseAd will be show
Amazon buy bookBuy bookphraseAd will be show
Buy books on romanceBuy bookphraseAd will be show
Buy romance booksBuy bookphraseAd will be show
Buy good booksBuy bookphraseAd will be show
Broad Match

When the keyword is specified in broad match, google will shows ads to user search query that is relevant to keyword.

How relevant ? It has so many variations.

For example, our keyword, buy books when specified in broad match, the ad will be served for the user queries like.

User -queryAdvertiser- keywordMatch typeResult
Buy book Buy bookBroad Ad will be shown
Children’s bookBuy bookBroad Ad will be shown
booksBuy bookBroad Ad will be shown
Fiction literature buyBuy bookBroad Ad will be shown
Buy novelBuy bookBroad Ad will be shown
Buy car Buy bookBroad Ad will not be show
Buy appleBuy book Boad Ad will not be show

Basically broad match keywords will trigger ads for all the relevant even the remotely relevant.

When to use broad match keywords:

When you have a less search volume, you can go with broad match to capture as much as volume.

Special Mention:  Broad match modifiers

Broad match modifier also called as BMM keyword is the hybrid variation of all the above keyword match types.

To use broad match modifier you have to specify keywords like

Broad match modifiers example : Buy +books

A potential wasted marketing spend can come from the same variant of broad match is that it could also trigger keywords that are related to books but not buy. So to address this, you can add a plus (+) sign in front of a keyword that you want to present in the user search term. Adding + convers broad match into BMM. That’s all about the positive keywords (or) keywords in targeting.

One of the crucial part in targeting is not just predicting and having keywords what you’re might type in while searching for the products but also predicting which user queries doesn’t results in business goals.

Google Search Ads Targeting – Negative keywords

In google search campaigns, only way you can target or exclude users is by using keywords. Negative keywords helps advertisers to filter out the irrelevant users.

In general context, the negative keywords serve the same purpose of the positive keywords but just in the reverse.

Why should you use Negative keywords?

Assume that, you want to sell more books from your campaign. So you’re having keywords like

Purchase books

Purchase books online

Buy Fiction books online

Best fiction books to read  

If you’re targeting the above mentioned keyword using either phrase or broad match, then you’re keywords will also trigger ads for the queries that are relevant but doesn’t help you to achieve campaign adjective like,

Purchase books for free

Purchase books online for free

Buy fiction books online at no cost

Best fiction books to read for free

Even though above search terms are related to books, they aren’t going to help with your campaign objective ( selling books). But whenever the user’s queries like above terms, you will charged per clicks in cpc model, resulting in wasted spend.

So you wanted to advertise to the users who wants to buy a books not to the people who looks to download books for free. How do we solve this?

We can use negative keywords to address this. You can use, “free”, “no cost” as a negative keyword to inform the google to not to shows ads to the users whose query contains the negative keywords.

Now that you know how negative keywords can be helpful, let’s see how we can actually implement this.

Types of Negative keywords

Like positive keywords, negative keywords also comes in various match types with different functionalities for each.  Here’s the three types you need to be aware off

Exact Match – Negative  :

This will block the ads when the search term exactly matches with the negative keyword. It doesn’t stops the close variations.

Phrase match- Negative

This will block if the search terms contains the keyword in the same order as put in the negative keyword.

Broad Match – Negative

This will block the synonyms, abbreviations and other broad variation of the search terms when this type of negative keyword is used.

So now you know how to positive & negative keywords works and how to use them, let’s get some strategies on how to get those keywords.

How to get relevant keywords for your search ads targeting campaigns

Google keyword Planner

This tool is from google adwords to help advertisers to get keywords. To get keywords, just log into adwords,

Go to tools → keyword planner

You will be prompted with the window like below:

Click the “search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category” box and enter your seed keyword.

What is seed keyword?

Seed keyword is the very one important keyword that says about what your offering to customers.

If you’re a online bookseller,

”Buy books” – could be your seed keyword. “Buy adult coloring cook ”could be brand keywords or secondary keywords.

You have to enter your seed keywords into the search for new keywords using a phrase section and you will be provided with hundreds of keywords along with online competition and search volume.

Note : for some new accounts search volume will in abstract limits ( i.e 10K-10M). Accounts which have huge spend can get you exact search volumes.

Can you download those keywords and group them based on similarity and the positive keywords are ready.

Paid tools to get competitor keywords:

If you want to surprise competitors , you can actually get some of the keywords they use by using a paid software. One such software is . log-in into this tools, and use the competitor website into the box and you will be getting the keywords.

How to get negative keywords?

It’s a good idea to have negative keywords in place even before the campaign starts. You can get the negative keywords from the keyword planner. Upon entering the seed keywords in the keyword planner, you will able to download all keywords. This contains all the positive and negative keywords.

Whenever you google a keyword, in the bottom of the results page you will be finding the related searches. You can find what are other queries and possible negative keywords.

By yathav

I'm very passionate about technology, marketing & analytics. Using WordPress and working on blogging & search engine optimization for almost 8+ years, I'd like to share my thoughts, hacks and best practices about what i do professionally & what I experience.


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