Understanding the Differences Between Google and Bing Match Types


I thought I had a good grasp on keyword match types – that is, until I started studying for the adCenter exam. Then I realized there were some noteworthy differences between how Google and Bing interpret match types. If you’ve been treating match types the same in both search engines, read on to learn the key differences between the two and how they may be affecting your account.

For this example we are going to be owners of a flower shop. We want to include the keyword "red flowers" in our Google and Bing accounts. I’m going to go through how the different match types for "red flowers" will affect when our ads show in each account.

List of Match Types:


Broad Match

Google: An ad is eligible to appear when a user's search term contains any or all words in the keyword in any order, and along with other terms. For example, the broad keyword red flower would show for any search query containing the terms "red," "flowers," or "red flowers." Google AdWords also runs your ads on relevant variations of your keywords, even if these terms aren't in your keyword lists. Keyword variations can include synonyms, singular/plural forms, relevant variants of your keywords, and phrases containing your keywords.

Bing: Broad match keywords trigger the display of your ad when ALL the words in your keyword appear, in any order, in a customer's search query. For example, your keyword red flowers would match search queries that include "red flower," "flowers that are red," but not just "red" or "flowers." This means adCenter Broad match does not deliver the same coverage as Google. They also will not match plural to singular, but sometimes do discrete synonym matching. To me, Bing’s broad match has more similarity to Google’s broad match modifier match type.

Below is a table to help understand when an ad will show for broad match keywords. Yes means the ad will show for the search query and no means it will not.

Broad Match

Phrase Match

The phrase match type is treated the same in both Google and Bing. Your ad would be eligible to appear when a user searches on a phrase containing all your keywords, in the same order. You ads will also appear for searches that contain other terms as long as it includes the exact keyword phrase you've specified.

Phrase Match

Exact Match

Google: Your ad would be eligible to appear when a user searches for the specific phrase "red flower," in this order, and without any other words in the search term. Keywords with apostrophes are considered the exact same as the corresponding keyword without an apostrophe.

Bing: Triggers the display of your ad only when the exact word or words in your keyword, in exactly the same order, appear in a customer's query. Unlike Google, Bing ignores words in search queries such as "a," "the," "an," etc. Keywords with apostrophes are not ignored.

Exact Match

Negative Keywords

Let's say that even though we sell red flowers, we don’t carry red roses. Red roses is the perfect keyword to add as a negative, but which type should you use and how will it affect the account?

Google: You can set negatives to either Broad, Phrase, Exact match. If "red roses" was a broad match negative it would prevent ads from showing on any queries containing both the words ‘red’ and ‘roses’ in any order. For phrase match negative, the term "red roses" would have to appear in the query in that exact order. For exact match negative, ads will only be blocked when someone just searches for "red roses."

Bing: There are no negative match types in adCenter. All negatives are seen as phrase match meaning a search query in Bing will only be blocked if it contains all the terms in the keyword in the exact order. So don’t add in negatives to adCenter like this: “red roses” or this: [red roses] as Bing won’t recognize them as match types.

Negative Match

Bethany Beyby Bethany Bey, an Account Executive at Hanapin Marketing, a search engine marketing firm focused on generating results through PPC and SEO. After getting her MBA from Valparaiso University in 2010, Bethany joined the Hanapin team and is excited to be working in the fast-paced world of Internet marketing.

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Apr 05, 2011

What a great and useful post!

I did find one small discrepancy under "Phrase Match". The table states a "red flowers" search query would not come up if "red flowers" keyword was phrase matched whereas "red flower" would come up.

Elisa Gabbert
Apr 05, 2011

Thanks for alerting us to the error, Cassy -- Bethany sent us an updated chart and I just updated the post.

Apr 05, 2011

oops, one more - the same scenario under "Exact Match". I should have put this in the previous comment but i wasn't thorough enough :) thanks much and have a wonderful day!

traffic pimpster
Apr 05, 2011

I just experimented with Bing - red flowers will trigger ads such as the following: (in broad)

Flower Delivery Guarantee
Same Day, Next Day, Any Day! Same
day delivered - order by 3pm

It does not seem to me to be similar to a broad match modifier on Google? and "red flowers" triggered "flower" which is singular.

Jun 16, 2011

I think it's good to note that although the ad doesn't show "red flowers", the advertiser could still be bidding on the keyword "red flowers" with a generic flower ad.

BienTek, 41663 Blair Dr, Novi MI 48377
Apr 06, 2011

Looks like the Exact Match keyword table also needs to be updated. I enjoyed the negative match lesson! That's what I came here for.

Maneet Puri
Apr 07, 2011

Thanks for the warning.

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Friday PPC News Roundup: #PPC Chat Launch Edition
Apr 08, 2011

[...] week, and Bethany Bey made another guest appearance at the WordStream blog with a great post on the difference between Bing vs. Google match types. I also talked about AdWords’ announcement that campaign experiments are being offered in the [...]

Maneet Puri
Apr 12, 2011

from the latest news I gathered about Bing and Google, I concluded that Google is an activist and its hard t beat it no matter Bing do. be it phrase or broad matching, Google is Google.It provides a great user-experience.

diseño web
Jun 27, 2011

What a great and useful post! I did find one small discrepancy under "Phrase Match". The table states a "red flowers" search query would not come up if "red flowers" keyword was phrase matched whereas "red flower" would come up.

Tutors in Calgary
Aug 17, 2011

This is nice to know! I currently run the Google and Bing ad campaigns for my tutoring company and have previously bid on broad keywords such as “tutors Calgary” and “tutoring Calgary”. At least I know now to remove these broad keywords from Adwords and change them to phrase keywords. I don’t’ see any benefit in my add showing when someone types in the word Calgary and believe that this can only lead to more impressions that would reduce my CTR. Thanks for the tips!

Feb 15, 2012

This is a relevant post in the aftermath of Google accusing Bing of copying their search results. The two search engines at leats differ in their treatment of ads and match types.

Mar 21, 2012

would someone mind giving their synopsis on this? did one engine come out as the 'winner'? Or why you have a personal preference? THANKS!

gabriel - diseño web
Jul 06, 2012

thanks for the input

Nov 21, 2012

This is so confusing....SUCH A MISLEADING EXPLANATION X( 

Dec 06, 2012

my bing ads is showing eligible and ads is not running.

Mar 25, 2013

This really messed me up for a while when trying to add negatives to Bing. For example, I added[york]as a negative in Bing, thinking it is exact match. I didn't realize that this would block"york peppermint patty", "new york yankees", basically anything with "york" in it. Ugh! I lost a whole day's worth of conversions because of this.What I find is that, in Bing, it makes more sense to set all my bidded keywords on Exact Match. And then I can add [york] to the keyword list, then pause it. This way, Bind won't show my ads if someone just types in "york". And, the paused keyword [york] won't conflict with other Broad or Phrase Matched keywords in my list.It gives more control than the negative keyword function, in my experience.Eric BryantGnosis Media Group 

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