Google AdWords Prefers Not To Use Multiple Match Types For Single Keyword Phrase

Jan 14, 2009 • 8:17 am | comments (18) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google AdWords

There is an interesting paid search thread over at WebmasterWorld on the topic of using match types. For newbies, match types basically give you the ability to tell how specific or broad you want Google to match your keywords. So if you want Google to show your ad for the keyword phrase blue widget, and variations of it, like big widget that is blue, you use a specific match type. For more on how match types work, see this help document.

That being said, Google is now recommending that you do not list out multiple match types for keyword phrases. Typically, an advertiser might target several keywords, but be very specific on those keywords. So what Google seems to not want you to do these days is add all of the following to your keyword list, but instead decide to go all broad or all narrow.

Example: 'blue widget' [blue widget] [widget blue] [big blue widgets] and so on

Senior member, bcc1234, said he got word from Google that "they discourage the use of the same keyword with multiple match types." He explained, that "instead of triples of all keywords, they want advertisers to go from "broad" to "narrow" (in their words)." He thinks this makes sense, why?

It actually makes sense to some degree. But I'm guessing they are trying to cut down on the total number of keywords in their system. I imagine with millions of advertisers, and lots of them uploading hundreds of thousands of keywords in dozens of accounts, it really becomes a saleability issue.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

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Mike Pantoliano

01/14/2009 03:18 pm

I don't believe it. I can't think of any reason that this would be discouraged other than the fact that massive amounts of keyword lists increase the load on Google. It is true over time that one can eventually add most of the relevant broad terms bringing in traffic to exact and phrase matches. However, when launching a campaign there isn't a better way to get a feel for how keywords are going to play out then including all of the match types. I often feel kind of silly uploading massive exhaustive "triple" keyword lists to AdWords, but I'm not sure there's a better way.

Xurxo Vidal

01/15/2009 05:52 pm

I have to agree with Mike that the most logical reason might have to do with load on Google's system when an account becomes keyword heavy. Because of the size and scale of one of our clients' campaigns, we've had to split out their campaigns over to two new accounts so they now have 3 in total. The reason for this was because we surpassed the keyword limits (triplication because of the three match types being a major contributing factor). Also this client's campaigns really puts a lot of strain on the AdWords editor not to mention our PC's processors. Downnloading the campaign is a lengthy task even though our computers are up to date and powerful (we use both PCs and Macs).


01/15/2009 06:43 pm

You should never bid on any terms that might compete with one another, this includes multiple match types and/or keywords in different orders if they are not set to exact. Keep that in mind across all your campaigns and adgroups if they share the same geo target areas as well. When someone does a search and your ad gets triggered you do not want multiple terms competing against each other. You’re cannibalizing your impressions and clicks across multiple terms. This hurts your quality score and drives up your cost per click. It’s not a matter of the load on Google, it’s not shooting yourself in the foot. The Google AdWords Editor has had a tool that helps you make sure you have no duplicate keywords in your entire account. In the AdWords Editor go to Tools, and there you will see “Find Duplicate Keywords”. You can select how strict you want the search to be and then remove terms easily after the account has been scanned. This tool has been available in the Editor for over a year and half that I am aware of, may very well be longer. Google doesn’t tell you not to have duplicate match types but then gives you handy dandy tool to make sure you don’t. It’s one of those things that they want you to figure out on your own and it helps the people who know what they are doing get ahead of those who don’t, imo.

Vinson Han

01/16/2009 04:52 am

The only reason I can think of why Google discourages the use of multiple match types is that greatly reduces their advertising revenue from AdWords especially in these bad times, where they don't need smart marketers, simply put. Why? When you have different matches for a keyword phrase it helps the campaign to be more targeted and that increases the CTR of that particular keyword phrase or ad group where the most relevant keyword is being triggered. This has a direct impact on the CPC as we all know that CTR is a very important factor for AdWords to calculate how much to charge for a click. With high CTR your CPC will reduce. Just my 2 cents.

Addy Coleman

01/16/2009 04:23 pm

Interesting angle, Vinson.

Mike Ott

01/16/2009 04:29 pm

Seems odd that they would discourage it with out providing a rationale. Are they going to make it so that your campaign suffers from bidding on all match types? Maybe the rep bcc1234 was dealing with just didn't know what he/she was talking about. I'm curious if anyone else has had their rep suggest something similar.

Shelly Stuart

01/16/2009 04:38 pm

This is interesting. I know they definitely used to encourage multiple match types -- I had a rep give me optimization suggestions about a year ago to see if they had any interesting ideas and the biggest thing the rep did was add multiple match types for keywords. I was a PPC newbie at the time so I asked him why -- here's his response: "I have done this because more specific matching options will filter out more searches, often leading to a higher clickthrough rate (CTR) and more relevant traffic. Additionally, since you have the most high traffic and relevant keywords in all the three matching types, it would help you to monitor the performance and traffic of these keywords more closely."

Michael W.

01/16/2009 05:58 pm

Let's face it. If people start broad, Google makes more money at the beginning of someone's campaign until they figure out how to narrow it to their audience. I'm not sure who at Google said this, but I'm sure within their organization there's debate on the subject. My AdWords Reps have ranged from suggesting broad match with plenty of negative keywords to throwing all 3 match types in and seeing what sticks after a few days. Bottom line - unless you see your quality scores take a dive, do what's best for your own campaigns and methods.

Larry K

01/17/2009 08:38 pm

i would recommend using broad match initially, primarily for discovering keyword opportunities. Google's broad match will help you discover keywords (both good and bad ones). For the bad (irrelevant) keywords, use negative keywords aggressively to get rid of them. For the good, newly discovered keywords, move them over to more restrictive match types (phrase or exact) and set bids according to their ROI. For example, it's entirely reasonable to place more value on an exact match, than a phrase match, than a broad match, because the more restrictive match types mean you're more in control of what you're actually paying for. If you think this makes sense, company that i work for (wordstream) has tools to automate this.

Sunil Nalawade

01/19/2009 11:36 am

Generally exact match keywords are more expensive than broad match. Also the traffic gainer keywords are mostly broad match keywords. And its always better to have small focused set of keywords to optimize better.


01/19/2009 10:59 pm

I thought the exact same thing... AT FIRST! But after a year of multiple match types, I noticed many would-be high volume keywords weren't getting ANY traffic. In several cases AdWords, couldn't decide which type to serve and, thus, wouldn't serve ANY! This was the case even when the QSs were high.

Ryan G.

01/21/2009 08:49 pm

We've been having issues getting broad match terms that traditionally had performed well, to live up to their recent history. After digging through the data, our team discovered an issue with Google's broad match, where they were effectively considering any keyword below the first page minimum bid to be inactive! Higher CPC broad matched terms would then collect that traffic, diluting the conversion rates and result in them being bid down. The process then continued on the next closest related broad match term. George Michie explains in a detailed post here:

jason ibarra

02/06/2009 10:21 pm

i have lost some sleep over this idea and would appreciate a corroborative review of the concept. separate match types into their own adgroups and negative the other possible match types from the individual adgroups... bear with me here keyword: blue widget exact match adgroup: [blue widget] phrase match adgroup: "blue widget", -[blue widget] broad match adgroup: blue widget, -"blue widget", -[blue widget] utilize all three match types, block them from competing with one another and screw google and their capacity to store data


03/06/2009 03:25 pm

Jason, Your theory in regards to separating matches in their own adgroups got me thinking, as a possibly making a whole lot of sense. I'm no expert but but at the end of the day, Google adwords would see [blue widget], "blue widget" , blue widget as available keywords, so aren't they all being triggerd and competing among themselves?

Jeremy Campbell

03/13/2009 03:20 pm

Also interested in a potential solution to this. I wish there was a comments feed to subscribe to...

Jeremy Chatfield

03/15/2009 12:55 am

@Jason Ibarra Your technique works. I've used it for more than two years. :)


09/29/2009 05:12 am

I acquired an account that was employing all match types for the identical keyword phrase across the majority of its adgroups. I called an adwords specialist, who discouraged the use of multiple match types as it "confuses their system". I naturally eliminated the match types that were not getting a response and experienced a significant increase in CTR percentages in the following weeks. Personally, there's been more evidence that employing multiple match types will reflect negatively on your overall campaign performance - Much of which falls in line with what Eddings and 7ucky have stated. Initially starting out with all three match types to see which one will trigger your ads then eliminating the match types that are not getting a response after they've had a chance to acquire a fair amount of impressions has been an effective method for me.

Ewan Kennedy

08/05/2010 04:09 pm

@ Eugene I can see that yours is a common sense approach which has proven to work by chasing the better performing match types and rubbing out the others. I also think that Jason's approach may get the best of both worlds by retaining all match types without any conflict between them. I don't see that the three match types in Jason's technique will compete with each because (I believe) Google will take the exact match first, if there is one, then the phrase match and lastly the broad match if that is the only way it can serve the ad.

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