Understanding PPC. What are Google PPC Keywords and Match Types?

Understanding PPC - What are Google PPC Keywords and Match Types?

For anyone new to PPC, or ‘Pay Per Click’ advertising, it can often seem a bit complicated to understand all of the different elements and jargon that come with running ads via PPC.

I want to break down some of the more technical digital topics into really easy to understand, clear to read articles that help small businesses understand more. When a business understands what you do and why you do it, it’s much easier to work together on a project and gain greater success.

So Here is my really simple guide to understanding keywords in Pay Per Click advertising.

What is a keyword within PPC?

A keyword can be a ‘single word’ or ‘multiple words within a phrase’, that are used to help show your adverts, when users search those words or phrases when on a search engine.

These ‘single words’ and ‘multiple words or phrases’ have a variety of match types that are used to determine how strictly the words typed by the user, match the keywords set by the advertiser.

These match types include ‘Broad Match’ which shows keywords more loosely related to the term. ‘Phrase Match’ which sits in the middle and lastly ‘Exact Match’ which is much more strict.

What is a ‘Broad Match Modified Keyword’

Ads can show on a variety of terms that ‘relate’ to the keyword. and show on terms that don’t even include your keyword at all, if relevant. This can help you to reach a wider audience with loose matching terms. Broad Match is often seen as the default match type as all keywords are set as Broad Match unless otherwise specified.

Broad Match KeywordAds may show on these searches
ShoesSize 9 shoes
Ladies Shoes
Black Shoes
Shoes for Sale
Broad Match type examples

As you can see in the above table, if you were a retailer selling children’s shoes only, using a broad match of just ‘shoes’ would not show you targeted enough search traffic and result in wasting money. Whereas if you were an adults shoe retailer selling a huge variety of shoe types for both men and women in a variety of sizes and colours, then this could be a great keyword match type for you to reach as wide an audience as possible.

However, it is worth bearing in mind that Google also uses a users recent search history, the content on the landing page and other Broad Match terms within the same ad group to help determine the relevance of the search.

Therefore it is possible, if a user has been doing previous searches for ‘children’s shoes’ ‘toddler shoes’ and ‘measure my child’s feet’ Google may recognise these searches and therefore when searching just ‘Shoes’ potentially show results for – children’s shoes, as Google may perceive this as being a useful and relevant result.

What is a ‘Phrase Match’ Keyword?

A Phrase Match keyword shows when a users search term ‘includes’ the meaning of the keyword and is more closely related to the search term set.

Phrase Match is more targeted than Broad Match so can help reach more specified searches and narrow who you show your ads too.

Phrase Match KeywordAds may show on these searchesAds may not show on these searches
Toddler ShoesPink Toddler ShoesToddler tantrums and throwing Shoes
Shoes For My ChildMaking home made shoes with my toddler
Shoes for Toddlers
Toddler Shoes

Google is very clever, it can determine the different context in search queries. If a user has previously been searching to purchase toddler shoes, and visited several shoe retailer e-commerce websites, then it is unlikely to show search results related to websites giving advice, like ‘toddler tantrums and throwing shoes’ or tutorials and guides for ‘making home made shoes with my toddler’ instead, Google will show retailer sites and e-commerce product pages.

What is an ‘Exact Match Keyword’

Exact Match keywords give the tightest control over who see’s your adverts, when using Exact Match, Google only shows your ads on keywords that have the same meaning or intent as the keywords specified. This gives the most strict matching and tightly targets only the closest related searches to the keyword.

Although it says ‘Exact’, Google actually shows ‘Close Variants’ to exact match keywords to expand when your ad shows against search terms that are really similarly related.

Exact Match KeywordAds may show on these searchesAds may not show on these searches
Blue Shoes For A ToddlerToddler Blue ShoesPink Toddler Shoes
Blue Toddler ShoeShoes For T oddlers
Shoes For A Toddler In Blue.

What are Close Variants?

When searching via Google, people expect to find the products and services they’re looking for when searching, however they search. If they don’t find what they want, they blame the search engine for not giving them the results they expected.

Google has improved it’s machine learning over the years and in 2019 started expanding the keywords your ads could appear on if the intent or meaning was the same. Aka ‘Close Variants’

Broad match modifier close variants have historically only included misspellings, singular or plural, stemmings, abbreviations and accents.

Moving forward, close variants will also include words with the same meaning as the keyword.

https://support.google.com/google-ads/answer/9426627
Broad Match Modifier KeywordMatched Queries Before 2019Matched Queries After 2019
+Lawn +Mowing +ServiceServices to mow my lawnGrass cutting and gardening services
Lawn mowing and edging serviceRates for services that cut your grass.
https://support.google.com/google-ads/answer/9426627
Phrase Match Modifier KeywordMatched Queries Before 2019Matched Queries After 2019
“Lawn Mowing Service”Lawn mowing service pricesGrass cutting service near me
seasonal lawn mowing service ratesLocal lawn cutting services
https://support.google.com/google-ads/answer/9426627

Phrase match used to include the exact phrase specified with the potential to add keywords before or after the term. Whereas with the updates in 2019, this allowed for more close variants to show if the intent and meaning was closely related even if the physical words used are not in the same order.

Close Variant matched queries don’t have to include the exact keywords specified by the match type, or in the exact order however, they match the intent of what the keyword implies and therefore can show your ad.

Google is getting much smarter at understanding what the user is searching for and this is reflected within close variants.

For more help setting up PPC campaigns for your business do get in touch with Amanda White Digital a PPC specialist based in Cornwall with over ten yers experience to help you get the best from your advertising budget on Pay Per Click Ads.

Published by amandawhitedigital

Amanda White is an SEO specialist with over ten years of experience working with some of the largest eCommerce websites in the UK with both an agency and in house background.

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