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Specifying Goal Match Types - The difference between head, Exact, Regular Expression, and Substring Match

There are four different match types that define how WordStream identifies a goal or funnel URL (or both).

  1. Exact match: This will perform an exact character for character match on URL paths.For example, if the page URL is, an exact match string should look like this: /checkout.html. Note that the is not included in the match string.
  2. Head Match: If your website uses dynamically generated content and/or URLs, use the Head Match filter and leave out the dynamic values. A Head Match will attempt to match the page URL character for character up until the end of the provided match string.For example, if the URL for a particular user is but the 'id' varies for every other user, enter /checkout.cgi?page=2 and select Head Match as your Match Type.
  3. Regular Expression Match: Regular Expression Matches are useful for matching URL paths with lots of variable data. For this type of match, a regular expression should be constructed to match the entire URL path.For example, in the case of the URL, the user may want to match all entries with page=1 and any id. Since a simple head match cannot properly perform this type of match, a regular expression is ideal. The user would construct this expression to successfully match the URL: \/checkout\.cgi\?id\=[0-9]*?\&page\=1
  4. Substring Match: Substring Matches are used match URL paths where the path includes any occurrence of the substring.For example, in the case of the URL, if the user wanted to match any URL path where page=4, the user would enter page=4 and select Substring Match.

Troubleshooting Tips:

  • All matches are case-insensitive by default. Specifying case-sensitivity applies to all match types including regular expression matches.
  • Do not include a trailing / character in any match string. URL paths being matched have their trailing / character automatically removed.
  • Matches are always performed on the path portion of the URL (eg. /checkout.cgi?id=006&page=1). Do not include the portion of the URL in the match string.