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Keyword Match Types vs Negative Keyword Match Types

Keyword match types determine how closely a user’s search query needs to align with the chosen keywords for an ad to appear, while negative keyword match types exclude certain search queries from triggering ads.

Understanding how to use these match types appropriately can help businesses efficiently allocate their advertising budgets, avoid irrelevant traffic, and increase ad relevancy, ultimately leading to better campaign performance and ROI.

Let’s see what this comparison of keyword match types vs negative keyword match types will reveal.

Let’s get right into it!

Keyword Match Types

Keyword match types are a crucial feature in Google Ads that control which user search queries trigger an ad.

By selecting a match type, advertisers can decide how closely the keyword needs to match a user’s search query for the ad to be eligible to appear.

This feature helps manage ad relevance, filter out unwanted impressions, and reach the most appropriate audience.

Types of Keyword Match Types

There are three primary keyword match types in Google Ads:

  1. Broad Match
  2. Phrase Match
  3. Exact Match

Broad Match

Broad Match is the default match type that allows ads to show for searches that include misspellings, synonyms, related searches, and other relevant variations.

  • Example: If the keyword is “tennis shoes,” the ad might show for searches like “buy sports shoes” or “running sneakers.”
  • Usage: Broad Match is useful for advertisers aiming to capture a wide audience and explore potential new keyword opportunities. However, it can also attract irrelevant traffic, leading to wasted spend if not monitored closely.

Phrase Match

Phrase Match allows ads to show for searches that include the meaning of the keyword, such as the keyword itself or close variations, with additional words before or after.

  • Example: If the keyword is “tennis shoes,” the ad might show for searches like “buy tennis shoes” or “tennis shoes for women,” but not for “shoes for tennis.”
  • Usage: Phrase Match provides a balance between broad and exact matches, offering more control over ad relevancy while still capturing a wider audience.

Exact Match

Exact Match allows ads to show only for searches that exactly match the keyword or close variations of it.

  • Example: If the keyword is [tennis shoes], the ad might show for “tennis shoes” or “tennis shoe,” but not for “running shoes.”
  • Usage: Exact Match provides the highest level of control over which searches trigger the ad, making it ideal for highly targeted advertising campaigns where precise matching is crucial.

✏️Check out our tool for Google Ads Match Type Tool for wrapping keywords into proper match type.

Pros and Cons of Keyword Match Types

Pros:

  1. Broad Match:
    • Pro: Captures a wide audience and potential new keywords.
    • Con: Can result in irrelevant traffic and wasted spend.
  2. Phrase Match:
    • Pro: Balances control and reach.
    • Con: May still attract some irrelevant traffic.
  3. Exact Match:
    • Pro: Provides the highest level of control over ad relevancy.
    • Con: Limited reach compared to other match types.

Use Cases for Each Type

  1. Broad Match: Ideal for exploratory campaigns or brand awareness initiatives where capturing a wide audience is beneficial.
  2. Phrase Match: Suitable for campaigns targeting specific products or services where variations in wording are acceptable.
  3. Exact Match: Perfect for campaigns where precise targeting is needed, such as targeting specific branded terms or highly specific products.

Understanding and correctly applying keyword match types enables advertisers to control their ad campaigns effectively, ensuring that their ads are shown to the most relevant audience, thereby maximizing ROI.

✏️Need keyword ideas for your brand? Check out our AI keyword generation tool.

Negative Keyword Match Types

Negative keyword match types in Google Ads allow advertisers to exclude specific terms or phrases from triggering their ads. This helps prevent ads from appearing in irrelevant search results, thereby optimizing ad spend and improving overall campaign performance. Negative keywords ensure that businesses do not waste budget on clicks that are unlikely to convert, enhancing the efficiency of advertising efforts.

Types of Negative Keyword Match Types

There are three primary negative keyword match types in Google Ads:

  1. Negative Broad Match
  2. Negative Phrase Match
  3. Negative Exact Match

Detailed Explanation of Each Type

Negative Broad Match

Negative Broad Match excludes ads from showing for searches that contain all the negative keyword terms, in any order.

  • Example: If the negative keyword is “free tennis,” the ad might still show for “free tennis shoes” but not for “tennis free.”
  • Usage: Negative Broad Match is effective for preventing ads from appearing for searches that include multiple terms considered irrelevant. However, it allows for more leniency in word order and additional words in the search query.

Negative Phrase Match

Negative Phrase Match excludes ads from showing for searches that include the exact negative keyword terms, in the exact order, but allows for additional words before or after.

  • Example: If the negative keyword is “free tennis shoes,” the ad will not show for “cheap free tennis shoes,” but might still show for “free shoes for tennis.”
  • Usage: Negative Phrase Match provides more specific exclusion than Negative Broad Match, particularly useful for excluding phrases that are likely to generate irrelevant traffic.

Negative Exact Match

Negative Exact Match excludes ads from showing only for searches that exactly match the negative keyword terms.

  • Example: If the negative keyword is “free tennis shoes,” the ad will not show for “free tennis shoes,” but might still show for “cheap free tennis shoes.”
  • Usage: Negative Exact Match offers the most precise level of control over ad exclusion, ideal for specific terms that are known to be irrelevant.

Pros and Cons of Negative Keyword Match Types

Pros:

  1. Negative Broad Match:
    • Pro: Broad exclusion, useful for blocking a variety of irrelevant terms.
    • Con: Potentially less precise due to the flexibility of word order.
  2. Negative Phrase Match:
    • Pro: More specific exclusion, useful for blocking phrases containing key irrelevant terms.
    • Con: Can still allow unwanted traffic if additional words make the query relevant.
  3. Negative Exact Match:
    • Pro: Highest level of control, best for specific irrelevant terms.
    • Con: Limited in scope, might not cover closely related but irrelevant terms.

Use Cases for Each Type

  1. Negative Broad Match: Ideal for filtering out general categories of irrelevant traffic, such as searches including multiple unwanted terms.
  2. Negative Phrase Match: Suitable for blocking specific phrases that include unwanted key terms, but might still be relevant with additional words.
  3. Negative Exact Match: Perfect for excluding highly specific terms or phrases that are known to be irrelevant.

Negative keyword match types are an essential tool for optimizing Google Ads campaigns by ensuring ads do not appear for unwanted or irrelevant searches.

Proper use of negative keywords can significantly improve ad relevancy, prevent wasted ad spend, and ultimately contribute to a more efficient and effective advertising strategy.

✏️Need negative keyword ideas? Check out our AI negative keyword generator.

Keyword Match Types vs Negative Match Types

AspectKeyword Match TypesNegative Match Types
PurposeDefine the searches where ads should appearDefine the searches where ads should not appear
VarietyBroad, Phrase, ExactNegative Broad, Negative Phrase, Negative Exact
ControlControl over relevant trafficControl over irrelevant traffic
UsageIncrease visibility and reachPrevent wasting budget on irrelevant clicks
Examples“tennis shoes” to target relevant searches“-free tennis shoes” to exclude irrelevant searches

Purpose and Function

Keyword match types and negative keyword match types serve distinct yet complementary purposes in Google Ads campaigns.

Keyword match types determine which search queries are relevant and should trigger an ad to appear. These match types provide advertisers with control over the reach and relevance of their ads, aligning them with user intent.

Negative keyword match types function as a filter to exclude specific search queries from triggering ads. They are designed to prevent ads from showing for irrelevant or unwanted search terms, helping to avoid wasted clicks and ad spend.

Differences in Implementation

The implementation of keyword match types and negative keyword match types varies in several key ways:

  1. Keyword Match Types:
    • Scope: Broad, Phrase, and Exact match types allow advertisers to capture a range of relevant searches.
    • Function: Keyword match types identify potential queries that align with the advertiser’s target audience.
    • Purpose: Their primary function is to increase ad visibility and reach.
  2. Negative Keyword Match Types:
    • Scope: Negative Broad, Negative Phrase, and Negative Exact match types filter out specific irrelevant searches.
    • Function: Negative keyword match types prevent ads from appearing for certain search queries.
    • Purpose: Their primary function is to eliminate unwanted traffic and optimize ad spend.

Complementary Nature of the Two Types

While keyword match types and negative keyword match types serve different functions, they are complementary and, when used together, create a balanced and effective advertising strategy.

  • Keyword Match Types focus on capturing relevant audiences, allowing ads to appear for relevant search queries and maximizing potential reach.
  • Negative Keyword Match Types focus on excluding irrelevant audiences, filtering out unwanted traffic to ensure ad spend is directed towards valuable clicks.

Together, these match types enable advertisers to refine their campaigns, improving both relevance and efficiency.

Common Mistakes and Pitfalls

When using keyword match types and negative keyword match types, several common mistakes can hinder campaign performance:

  1. Overly Broad Keyword Match: Using overly broad keywords can lead to irrelevant clicks and wasted spend. It’s important to monitor performance and adjust match types as needed.
  2. Inadequate Negative Keywords: Failing to use negative keywords can result in ads appearing for irrelevant searches, leading to wasted spend and lower ROI. Regularly reviewing search terms and adding negative keywords is crucial.
  3. Overuse of Negative Keywords: Using too many negative keywords or being overly specific can restrict ad visibility, limiting reach and potential conversions. It’s important to balance exclusions with potential relevance.
  4. Ignoring Match Type Variations: Not understanding the nuances between match types can lead to ineffective targeting. Using the appropriate match type for each keyword or negative keyword is vital for campaign success.

Best Practices for Using Match Types

Strategy and Planning

Before launching a Google Ads campaign, it’s crucial to establish clear goals and objectives for your ads. Consider the desired outcomes, such as increasing brand awareness, generating leads, or driving sales, as this will guide your selection of keyword match types. Starting with a clear strategy allows you to align the appropriate match types with your advertising goals, ensuring your ads reach the right audience.

Monitoring and Adjusting

Regularly monitoring the performance of your keywords and match types is essential for optimizing campaign effectiveness. Utilize the search terms report to identify which queries triggered your ads, and make adjustments accordingly. This ongoing review helps in refining match types and identifying negative keywords, ensuring your ads are both relevant and cost-effective.

Using a Mix of Match Types

Employing a mix of match types within your campaign can provide a balanced approach to reach and relevance. While broad match types can help capture a wide audience, incorporating phrase and exact match types allows for more precise targeting. Using a combination of match types provides flexibility and ensures that you are not overly restrictive or too broad in your targeting.

Implementing Negative Keywords

Including negative keywords is crucial for filtering out unwanted traffic and avoiding irrelevant clicks. Regularly reviewing and updating your negative keyword list helps prevent your ads from showing for queries that are not aligned with your goals, thereby saving on ad spend and improving ROI.

Leveraging Data and Analytics

Utilizing data and analytics is vital for making informed decisions about match types. Analyzing key metrics, such as click-through rate (CTR), conversion rate, and cost-per-click (CPC), can help you assess the effectiveness of your match types and make necessary adjustments. Data-driven insights ensure that your campaigns are optimized for performance and profitability.

Conclusion

Keyword match types—broad, phrase, and exact—allow advertisers to control the reach and relevance of their ads, while negative keyword match types—negative broad, negative phrase, and negative exact—help to filter out unwanted traffic.

Together, these match types provide advertisers with the tools needed to align their ads with user intent and prevent irrelevant clicks.

By strategically selecting and adjusting match types, you can ensure that your ads reach the right audience, avoiding wasted clicks and enhancing overall campaign effectiveness.

Now you know about the differences between keyword match types and negative keyword match types, but what about Demographic Targeting vs Interest Targeting.

Michael Schroder

Michael Schroder

Michael Schroder is a Google Ads and SaaS marketing consultant. He has been managing $200k-$300k monthly ad spend and has worked with 200+ SaaS companies. The thing that makes him unique is his data-led approach and his focus on SaaS businesses.