A Guide to PPC Keyword Match Types

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Keyword match types are used in pay per click advertising to target search terms that your customers are using so that you can display your ad to them. They allow you to target a wide audience or a smaller, more specific audience.

Keyword match types are essentially fishing nets – a different type of net for a different type of search term and they can be used in most PPC platforms.

The keywords you choose for your PPC campaigns can use one of four match types (nets):


  1. Broad match (a very large net)

Broad match can include misspellings, synonyms and related searches to your keywords. This means you’ll be targeting a very large audience. This is the default match type for PPC platforms and can include searches that may not be relevant to your products or services.

Example broad match keyword: fish

Search terms your ad would show for: red fish, buy fish, sharks


  1. Broad match modifier (a large net)

Broad match modifier is a broad match keyword but also includes text that must be part of the search. This still allows you to cast a wide net but is slightly more targeted. Broad match modifier allows misspellings and synonyms – which is an important area you should keep in mind when choosing the right keywords.

Example broad match modifier keyword: fish +small

Search terms your ad would show for: small fish, small red fish, small blue fish


  1. Phrase match (a medium sized net)

Phrase match includes text that’s either a keyword phrase (multiple words) or a close variation to it. This match type is much more targeted than broad match or broad match modifier. It can also include words before and after the phrase.

Example phrase match keyword: “small fish”

Search terms your ad would show for: small fish, red small fish, small fish types

Search terms your ad wouldn’t show for: fish that are small, small sharks


  1. Exact match (a small net)

Exact match is the most targeted of all the match types and the smallest possible net. It’s best used for very specific searches such as brand terms and product names. It can also include close variations.

Example exact match keyword: [small fish]

Search terms your ad would show for: small fish

Search terms your ad wouldn’t show for: red small fish, small fish types


Match types are a powerful keyword feature within PPC management. They can help better target customer audiences and provide a flexible way to capture relevant keyword searches. But used incorrectly it can capture the wrong audience entirely. That’s why you should consult with the experts first.

Want to discuss your requirements? Give PPC Agency Upperdog a call on 01202 798 820 or email hello@upperdog.co.uk. You can also request a free PPC audit from our pay per click advertising specialists.