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What are keyword matching options?

Keyword matching options are four different methods of targeting your AdWords ads to users. With some options, you'll enjoy more ad impressions; with others, you'll get fewer impressions (but potentially more clicks). By applying more focused matching options to your keywords, you can reach the most appropriate prospects, reduce your cost-per-click (CPC), and increase your ROI.

Your options are:

    Broad Match - This is the default option. If you include general keyword or keyword phrases-such as tennis shoes-in your keyword list, your ads will appear when a user's query contains tennis and shoes, in any order, and possibly along with other terms. Your ads will also automatically show for expanded matches, including plurals and relevant variations. Because broad matches are sometimes less targeted than exact or phrase matches, you should create keyword phrases containing at least two descriptive words each. You can also try the Keyword Tool and the other three matching options to further refine your targeting. Finally, keep in mind that other advertisers may have bid for the same broad-matched keyword combinations that trigger your ads, increasing your actual CPC amounts. Using exact, phrase, or negative matches can help you keep your costs low.

    Phrase Match - If you enter your keyword in quotation marks, as in "tennis shoes," your ad will appear when a user searches on the phrase tennis shoes, in this order, and possibly with other terms in the query. For example, your ad will appear for the query red tennis shoes but not for shoes for tennis. Phrase matching is more targeted than broad matching, but slightly more flexible than exact matching. To ensure your ads are as targeted as they can be, you may want to include at least two descriptive words in your keyword phrases.

    Exact Match - If you surround your keywords in brackets-such as [tennis shoes]-your ads will appear when users search for the specific phrase tennis shoes, in this order, and without any other terms in the query. For example, your ad won't show for the query red tennis shoes. Exact matching is the most targeted option. Although you won't receive as many impressions with exact matching, you'll likely enjoy the most clicks, because users searching for terms in this manner typically want precisely what your business has to offer.

    Negative Keyword - For the search network, if your keyword is tennis shoes and you add the negative keyword -red, your ad will not appear when a user searches on red tennis shoes. You can apply this option for a keyword at both the ad group and campaign level.
    For the content network, negative keywords are treated as a reverse exact match that won't expand your negative keyword to other similar variations. This reduces the likelihood your ad will appear on pages with variations of your negative keyword.

    For example, your ad group uses the negative keyword -car and your ad group theme matches Site A and Site B. Site A mentions the word car twenty times on the page. Site B uses the word cars twenty times on the page, but doesn't use the word car. In this case, your ad is unlikely to appear on Site A, but could also appear on Site B. To avoid appearing on Site B, you'd need to also use the negative keyword -cars for the ad group.

    To learn more about the benefits of keyword matching options, view our brief online demo.


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