One pattern we often see when conducting an AdWords account audit and strategy session for an advertiser, or when beginning work with a new client is that there are only broad match keywords throughout the AdWords account.

Ideally, you should bid on all three match types of every keyword you decide to include in your account for Google Search. To see why, read on….

To quickly review:

  • Using broad match keywords allows your ad to show on similar phrases and relevant variations. If you are bidding on the keyword: buy flowers, your ad may show on searches such as: flowers, purchase flowers, buy daisy flowers.
  • Using phrase match keywords allows your ad to show for searches that match the exact phrase. You are bidding on the keyword: “buy flowers”, your ad may show for: I need to buy flowers, buy flowers online, buy flowers for my wife.
  • Using exact match allows your ad to show for searches that match the exact phrase exclusively. You are bidding on the keyword: [buy flowers], your ad will only show when someone searches for: buy flowers.

Broad matched keywords are great for capturing a lot of traffic, but as you can see from the example, your ad may show up for many different search variations on In the example above, you may be an online flower shop but you do not offer daisies. By only bidding on the broad match, your ad may end up showing for irrelevant searches, therefore potentially being clicked on and costing you money for no return because you simply do not have what the visitor is looking for.

Phrase match is more targeted than broad match, yet still allows flexibility. In the example above, by bidding on: buy flowers, these two words have to always be together and in this order for your ad to display. Clearly, the searches: I need to buy flowers, and buy flowers for my wife are still relevant to your keyword.

Exact match is the most targeted option available. Your ad will only show when a user of searches for the exact query that you are bidding on as a keyword. This match type guarantees that you get the exact traffic you are hoping to receive from The negative impact of using this match type is that it can reduce the amount of traffic to your website, because your ad does not display nearly as often as it potentially could.

You should keep in mind that each of the three match types provides a different way for a user to interact with you. Broad match will give you the greatest amount of traffic but potentially not the most qualified and action oriented visitors. By using phrase match, and especially exact match, you’re ad will show less of the time but will often yield more targeted and qualified visitors who are ready to conduct the action you want – whether that be signing up for a newsletter or making an actual purchase.

By bidding on all three match types, you provide the opportunity to enter a conversation with many different types of visitors, positioning yourself in the strongest way to find success using Google AdWords. You also are able to bid differently based on your ROI for each match type; this especially applies to high volume keywords within your account.