Google Adwords Keywords Match Types

What Are Keyword Match Types?

Keyword match types determine how closely related your keyword needs to be related to the search term(s) for your ad to show.

Keyword match types control for which search terms your ad will show.

It’s important to understand people think in concepts. Not words.

Just because two people think about the same concept doesn’t mean they’ll choose the same words.

Search terms are an imperfect way for the searcher to tell us why they’re searching.

We want to do our best to figure out what the searcher is looking for.

If can deliver what they need, we want to bid and win and show them our ad.

But if the searcher is looking for something else, we want to save our money.

The keyword match type you chose influences which search terms will show your ad and which won’t.

The different keyword match types determines how tightly or loosely a search engine matches search results to a search query.

You want to show your ads for the right search intent. And you want to avoid paying for searches that don’t have the right search intent.

The biggest application of search match types is in PPC advertising.

What Are the Different Keyword Match Types?

With Google there are three search match types. Going from loosest to tightest, they are: broad match, phrase match, and exact match.

What Is Broad Match Keywords?

Broad match keywords match when the search terms are related.

Broad match is the default match type unless you specify a match type.

Broad match will match anything exact match matches and more.

Broad match keywords are the loosest keyword match type.

Sometimes broad match can be extremely broad. Your ad can show without your actual words in the search query.

My Simplilearn instructor Brad Geddes uses this example.

Searches for “tax prep” and “accounting services” could show an ad for the keyword “certified public accountant.” This can be a big deal if you’re spending most your money showing ads to the wrong people!

Broad match keywords are semantic keywords. Broad match type is the looser of the two semantic match types. Exact match being the tighter of the two.

Broad match keywords match when the meaning of the search terms matches regardless of which words are actually used.

What is the syntax for broad match?

There is no syntax for broad match. Broad match is the default match type.

Why use broad match?

Broad match gives you the highest visibility for your keywords.

This way, you don’t need to compile a exhaustive keyword list. Broad match can catch synonyms you missed. And broad match will spread your ad dollars to cover related searches.

Broad match can be very good if you are marketing a mainstream product. When you know that nearly everyone searching related terms falls into your target market.

What Does BMM Mean?

BMM means Broad Match Modifier.

BMM designate one or more broad match keywords that must match closely instead of similarly like normal.

BMMs allowed searchers to narrow broad match searches by using the plus sign to specify words that must match closely.

For example, normally searching “running shoes” as broad match could pull up all kinds of related sports shoes.

But use a (+) before running. Type “+running shoes.” Now Google will know to only match for specifically running shoes and other things very similar like “running socks” maybe.

Recently, the BMM feature by Google has been retired. BMM creation will be phased out ending in July.

According to SEJ, 95% of all Broad match keywords already use a BMM.

So the majority of marketers are typing a plus +before +every +single +keyword +anyways instead of using broad match how it was designed and adding a BMM only occasionally.

Because of numbers like that, it seems like this is a well needed change. This is save a lot of wear and tear on the plus sign button for every PPC marketer’s keyboard.

Going forward, BMM will be treated as Google’s new, expanded phrase match. More on that later.

Broad Match vs Exact Match

Broad match and exact match have a lot in common. They are both semantic match types. This means that they both look at the meaning of the words.

They are both looking to match the meaning of the search query to the meaning of the keywords.

Then, what is different between broad match and exact match?

The difference is that broad match will show you ad for many more searches.

Broad match will show for related words.

Adding detail will stop exact match ads from showing. But broad match keywords will show even for longer searches even if they include detail that the keywords do not.

Essentially, exact match keeps it tight. Exact match will only show for a small number of highly targeted search terms.

Broad match is much looser. This way you reach more audience. But you need to be careful that you don’t waste money.

Phrase Match Keywords Definition

According to Google, phrase match means that ads may show on searches that include the meaning of your keyword.

This means that longer, more detailed searches might still match if the keyword phrase can be found in the search.

Phrase match is a syntactic match type. That means the search engine is particularly making sure that your keyword is present in the search term the same way it is in your keyword.

Your keywords must be present in the search term in the exact order you put them into you account.

Still, phrase match keywords can match plurals, singulars, and misspellings.

If the search term is not in the same order or synonyms are used, phrase match might not show your ad.

Phrase match is looking to match your keywords syntactically how you gave them.

What is the syntax for phrase match?

The syntax for phrase match is quotation marks. Put phrase match keywords in quotation marks.

Why use phrase match?

Use phrase match when the word order is impactful.

My instructor at Simplilearn Brad Geddes, uses this example.

Say someone searches for “plumber license.”

Often times, they are looking to get their plumbing license.

This is different than someone looking up “license plumber.” Notice the word order is switched.

They are probably looking to hire a licensed plumber, not to become one!

Say you were advertising for a plumber school or plumber license testing. There would be less ROI for “license plumber” than for “plumber license.” If you are on a budget, this could be a big deal.

BMM & Phrase Match Update

“both phrase and broad match modifier keywords will have the same updated phrase matching behavior for all languages, and will show ads on searches that include the meaning of your keyword.”

Google Ads Help

The changes to phrase match is going to be in the spotlight for the next couple of months. Google will stop supporting new keywords using BMM in July.

New phrase match will be matching keywords closely the same way BMM did.

And just like phrase match, it will only be looking to see if your keywords are included. In other words, even if there are extra details, as long as your keyword phrase is present, your ad will show.

While phrase match is taking over BMM, phrase match will continue to respect word order. For example, the difference between “red shoes” and “shoes red” matters.

So when word order has an impact on search intent, slap those quotation marks for phrase match. That way word order will be respected.

This update might cause chaos for marketers with tons of BMM keywords. It might be hard to know what to do with these now obsolete keywords.

But it seems like change makes sense.

According to this article from Search Engine Journal, 95% of marketers are already using BMM on literally all of the words for their broad match keywords. This is called full BMM.

Obviously this wasn’t what Google intended. Otherwise they would’ve set it up differently.

So since it’s so widespread to use BMM as full BMM, BMM being changed makes sense to me.

So BMM will be absorbed into phrase match.

Phrase match’s game was already to match exact phrases even if they were among related or unrelated search terms.

So from my perspective, the marriage between phrase match and BMM makes a lot of sense.

Updated Phrase Match

“The updated phrase match combines the control of phrase match, and the expanded reach of broad match modifier. The new matching behavior will be more expansive than phrase match, but slightly more restrictive than BMM.”

Google Ads Help

Phrase match absorbs BMM into updated phrase match. Now I think we will see a lot more use out of phrase match, which I gathered is underutilized.

I think it’s important to note that the updated phrase match will be slightly more restrictive than BMM. This is good because it means that you won’t suddenly see big increases to your ad spend.

Before, BMM wasn’t picky about word order.

Now the updated phrase match will respect word order because sometimes word order can drastically effect whether or not your ad is relevant anymore.

You don’t need to do anything to update your BMM keywords. When the change rolls out your BMM will work like updated phrase match.

The change has already taken effect for English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, and Russian as of February 2021.

Broad Match vs Phrase Match

Now it’s going to be a big question whether to go with broad match or the new updated phrase match.

When using broad match as of July 2021, you will no longer be able to use BMM. You will have to use broad match or the updated phrase match.

The new updated phrase match is going to be less restrictive than previously

Updated phrase match will reach the matches that broad match could using the BMM.

Since a majority of marketers were using BMM, probably many will be forced to learn to use phrase match.

Negative keywords will likely become more important because phrase match keywords can match to extra descriptive words that might change the search intent enough to make an ad irrelevant.

A huge example of this would be the word “free.” Search queries like “free keyword research tool” mean that free is a priority for the searcher. Probably you don’t want to spend marketing dollars here. So consider adding “free” to your negative keyword list.

What Is Exact Match?

Exact match keywords dictate that the search query have exactly the same meaning.

Exact match is all about exactly matching the meaning of the search query to the keywords.

Misspellings, singular and plural versions, and different word order do not effect ad showings.

Synonyms can still trigger advertisements to show. And it’s fine if small words are in the mix. “Climbing gear” and “gear for climbing” will match. (Small words like “as” and “for” usually have little semantic load so they don’t effect exact match keywords.)

Word order is not as big of a deal as it is for phrase match. Your ad will show even if the word order is different.

However, exact match won’t show for search terms that add meaning. If there are more words present that specify the search, exact match won’t show.

Some words that are descriptive or additive alter the meaning of the search, and so exact match won’t show any ads in that case.

Descriptive words that specify or add to a search increase the semantic load. This makes the meaning more complicated.

Unless the meaning still exactly matches the meaning of the exact match keyword, your ads won’t show.

How to Do an Exact Match Search in Google

Enclose the exact match part of your search in quotation marks. You can exact match search part or all of the search.

For example, you can exact match search entire paragraphs of content to check for plagiarism.

Or you can enclose only a word or a phrase that you want to search for exactly.

For instance, maybe you are looking for an exact model of car. You can enclose the make and model you need in quotation marks. Then you are free to search for what else you need but don’t know exactly.

By the way, most of this article is from the perspective of a PPC marketer, yet this example works for any searcher.

But let’s be honest. We benefit from these tips too.

Match Type Symbols 2021

Broad Match

Broad match is the default keyword match type. No symbols are necessary to have your keyword as broad match.

Phrase Match

To specify phrase match, enclose your keywords in quotation marks. “phrase match”

Exact Match

For exact match, use square brackets. [exact match]


The BMM is retiring. You can still create new broad match keywords until July. After that you’ll be cut off. So might as well get used to living without BMM.

But for reference, BMM is specified by a (+) before a word. If you want for all words to use BMM, you must put a plus symbol before each word. +broad +match +modifier


Thank you sincerely for reading! My name is Evan River Welch. I’m a digital marketing learner with Simplilearn, a professional skills bootcamp provider. Feel welcome to write any comments that popped up for you. And do not hesitate to contact me!

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