Should You Include the Same Keyword with All Match Types in AdWords?


Same Keyword All Match Types

There is an age-old argument about structuring your account based on the match type of the keywords in each ad group. Should you add all keywords on exact, phrase, and broad (and don’t forget modified broad)? What is the right way to do it? If there are so many ways to structure, how do you choose? These are all questions that, so far, I haven’t seen definitive answers to. Everyone seems to have an opinion on how to structure an account – do this, don’t do that, add this, follow this best practice, etc. But who is right?

Hard evidence seems to be lacking for one view or another, but is adding all these match types ever necessary? If you have a keyword on a broad match type, why do you need phrase and exact? Aren’t you already getting enough traffic? And this is where the problem lies; people don’t know the differences of the match types, when to use them and why. You don’t need all three match types for each keyword in an ad group if you understand the fundamentals of each match type. I find it unnecessary to add all three match types and costly if you do structure your account that way.

Broad match keywords can bring in a lot of unwanted traffic, and you end up spending more time adding negatives and fighting with your low CTR’s than you do working on other important parts in your account. I don’t think broad match is all doom and gloom, but I do find it to be time-consuming, and they usually end up being the underperforming keywords in your account.

One good thing about having all three match types is the ability to test each keyword match type against each other to find out which one is cheaper, has a better CTR, and drives more conversions than the others. Usually, through testing, you can find out which match types work for you and which ones don’t.

Keyword Match Type Comparison

Looking at the example above, you can see that in this case, the broad match keyword “Design your own favors” has the highest number of impressions, lowest CTR, and a pretty low cost per click. The same keyword on exact match has a high CTR, low impressions and a more expensive CPC. Then the phrase match version has a low CTR, decent amount of impressions and the lowest CPC.

This would be a case of what I mentioned earlier, where the broad match keyword now becomes one of your more time-consuming tasks to manage. It seems to be doing satisfactory but it is also the most costly keyword in the group. My suggestion, in this case, would be to stick with the exact match keyword. While it is a bit more expensive per click, you know that the searchers are looking for your keyword exactly. You should be willing to pay slightly more for those search queries that are the most relevant because the searcher is more likely to convert to a customer. Also, the exact matched keyword has the best average position and overall seems to be the best match type based on the historical data.

Broad Match vs. Modified Broad

Knowing the different match types is vital to figuring out which ones to use in your account. As a rule of thumb, broad tends to be more expansive, phrase is great for those keywords that only make sense in that exact order or phrasing (typically branded terms), and exact is great for those competitive terms that may be a bit more costly but you know you always want to show up for, or those terms that don’t make sense in any other order. Everyone has a match type they like to stick with but knowing which works best for your business is the best and most efficient way of saving time and money. Testing your keywords on all three match types is always an option, but it is time-consuming, can be costly and may not be worth it for those who have a limited budget. If you can accomplish your business goals using an exact match keyword, then why add it on phrase and broad as well?

There are many ways to structure your account and everyone does it differently. Some think that adding all three match types will bring in traffic and clicks which will lead to conversions. Others think that having all three in an ad group will capture all audiences out there which they think is the best approach. Personally, I’d rather have less traffic if I know I’m bringing in the right traffic. However, everyone has an opinion on this topic and I would love to hear yours! If you feel differently or would like to weigh in, let me know by commenting below.

(Read More on the Debate: Google AdWords Mirrorred Campaigns)

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Gian Marc
May 13, 2013

Thanks for the article. I have a question concerning Match types and bidding strategies. In the above mentioned example all three mts Have the same bid. Aren't they competing with One another for the query "design your own favors"?

Lisa Wilkinson
May 14, 2013

Hi Gian,So, in the example above, they could technically be competing with one another due to the same bids but even with the same bid, each match type works differently, so you truly may not see any competition right off the bat. When adding keywords on different match types, Google considers that keyword as a brand new keyword but remember if add multiple match types, you should definitely bid a bit differently for each of those match types because each match type has a different way of playing out in the bidding war. If you wanted to take one approach over the other, I would cut out the middle man and add modified broad with a slightly less aggressive bid and an exact with a more aggressive bid; this will keep you relevant and cut some costs.Let me know if you have any other questions and thanks for reading! -Lisa

Dino Kestic
May 14, 2013

Thanks for the article!´This is actually something that I'm testing right now, adding the same keywords to see which ones are going to perform the best. Like you I prefer to get the right traffic but you can never know before hand which keyword/match type will bring you the right traffic. So I would say testing is a good way to find out. Then you can rule out the ones that are not performing. There's no idea to keep them all with different match types if you ask me.    

May 14, 2013

 Thanks for reading Dino! I think testing in AdWords is important and needed when you are trying to find the right way to go. I hope your testing goes well!-Lisa

David Twigg
May 14, 2013

Not if they are in the same ad group Gian apparently.

Shawn McCarthy
May 14, 2013

I tend to use modified broad match (and VERY tightly themed ad groups) for just about every keyword except for those highly competitive, shorter terms that you mentioned in the post (which I barely use at all). The logic behind this is that using the "+" with multiple words forces Google to only show ads when the the search query closely matches all the words with the "+." The more terms in a keyword that have a "+" next to it, the harder it is to match irrelevant search queries. 

May 14, 2013

I personally, create identical broad match modified campaigns and exact match campaigns. Then, I add the exact match versions of the keywords as negatives in the BMM ad groups, so the two campaigns are not competting. This way you can get keywords ideas with the broad match campaigns -- and not pay as much because you bid less on these keywords -- and then, continuously add relevant keywords from the BMM campaign to your exact match campaign and add negative keywords as well. This method makes managing my PPC accounts much easier. 

SEM by Zen
May 15, 2013

I was about to ask if anyone has had experience breaking match types out into campaigns and how it's worked for exactly the logic shared by "201" above.  Broad match can work well sometimes, especially in the realm of creating some activitiy for keyword expansion.

May 15, 2013

There are a lot of ways to create keyword expansion and using broad matches or modified broad matches can really help. I find that a fair amount of people use the same method as "201" but this is also a very time consuming way of setting up your account. You have to make sure to add the negatives to each campaign and then add the keyword on each match type to the right campaign. I think it is an effective way to set up your campains but many of us do not have the time to keep it going. Thanks for reading! -Lisa 

Sep 01, 2015

I do the exact same thing, and it works wonderfully. Campaign management is easy and you are constantly finding new, relevant long-tail keywords. It doest take managing the campaigns closely, but if you have a smaller account, it works great.

Oct 18, 2016

I know this is old now, but does this technique still work?

I'm testing it out and I have:

+some +search +term as a BMM campaign keyword and
[some search term] as an Exact campaign keyword.

However, if I add the exact match ([some search term]) as a negative in the BMM campaign, Adwords tells me it's preventing the BMM keyword from showing.

Have I missed something or has Google got wise?

Jan 06, 2017


I am facing the same issue -

+some +search +term as a BMM campaign keyword and
[some search term] as an Exact campaign keyword.

However, if I add the exact match ([some search term]) as a negative in the BMM campaign, Adwords tells me it's preventing the BMM keyword from showing.

I was wondering if you got the solution for this. Please let me know.


Stephen Shanahan
May 15, 2013

Hi LisaI am happy to have come across your site. I will be back more often as i too like many others have questions and answers for fellow moaners of Google!I am currently try to work thru a problem which I have with two keywords, first keyword has good results when there is a "s" on the end of the word, they are both set up for "phrase matches" but one has even better results. Should I delete the keyword with the "s" or does it matter to Google? After all I do not have the keyword as an exact match.Whats everyones thoughts? 

May 15, 2013

Hi Stephen,If you have your campaign set to include close variants, then you technically do not need to bid on both keywords to show up. It doesn't really matter to Google but there isn't a real need to have both either. I would think about pausing the one that isn't performing as well but there is not a bad side to having both either. Some people say you should have both and others agree with what I am saying, I don't think there is a wrong answer for this but you can always test it out and pause one and monitor the results; nothing says you can't enable the keyword again. Hope this helps and thanks for reading! Keep up with the blog because we have great writers here!-Lisa

Steve jones
May 15, 2013

Lisa your article helps me to avoid my future mistakes, because in past i was include same matched keywords in my adwords campaign , but after reading your these tips(article) i will take care of it.

Reza Farshbaf
May 16, 2013

@201, your method is unique and well thought but you didn;t mention how many keywords do you put in each adgroups? Do you create 2 camps or 2 adgroups? How do you manage large amount of keywords with that method?

Cooper Long
May 16, 2013

My opinion is it’s really not practical to attempt to block keywords from competing with each other on the match type level.  I've seen campaigns structures like this where campaigns are duplicated to include exact match in one campaign and broad in the other with the exact match keywords then added as negatives in the broad campaign.  The idea here is that all the most relevant traffic now goes to the exact campaign and the broad campaign is used for picking up new terms or other variations. However, this presents an interesting challenge when analyzing campaign performance because you now have similar keywords in different campaigns and have created a more complex account management situation in addition to increased reporting and analysis.

Cooper Long
May 16, 2013

Lisa,Interesting article- I definitely think this is a worthy topic for discussion.  Do you not think the benefits from a keyword mining perspective of having some broad and phrase keywords in addition to exact outweigh the challenges of having to constantly add negatives?  Additionally, I'm not sure what size accounts you manage in terms of budget but I would assume exact match only would be rather restrictive unless budgets were smaller.

Randall Magwood
May 19, 2013

I typically only use "phrase match" with my Adwords campaign. The same holds true for my Bing Ads account. I get good results from doing this. The only time i lose money is when i do "broad match", and get alot of clicks - that doesn't convert into email subscribers.

May 20, 2013

According to me, both exact and broad keyword have negative factors. But we need to focus for the keywords to which our website related.

May 20, 2013

Hi Reza, I create duplicate campaigns -- so a broad modified match and an exact match campaign that are identical -- and add the same keywords in each. As I mentioned I then ad the exact match of the keywords to the BMM campaign. I have a ton of ad groups in each campaign because I make my ad groups very small with relevant keywords. Yes, this does make account mgmt and reporting more complicated, but I think it is worth it. In my opinion, it makes it easier to determine the sucess of keywords. You do not have to deal with multiple types of keywords in ad groups, and trying to figure out which is working better. Like to hear feedback if others have had success with this method.  

Jun 13, 2016

Hi 201,

I recently restructured my Adwords to separate my discovery campaign (broad modified) from performance campaign (exact). I've set the bid and budget for both campaigns to be the same and found that some search terms are triggered under the discovery campaigns instead of the exact campaigns.

I'm wondering if I should bid higher for exact campaigns than the discovery campaigns? I thought exact match should trigger with priority. Does it still work the same cross campaigns?

May 21, 2013

Hi Lisa. I feel that it depends on the budget you have for each campaign. Broad match have the potential to bring a higher amount of traffic, but it is not qualified traffic. One tool, usually overlooked is the use of negatives to define more your taget traffic.

Randall Magwood
May 27, 2013

I've found that mostly "phrase match" works best for me. I've read courses saying that you should each keyword with all match types, but in my personal experience... on Google Adwords and Bing Ads... phrase match gets me the most clicks.

Kayden Lee
Sep 04, 2013

Great article! Certainly cleared some of my doubts. Heard that the keyword planner has replaced it now though..

Bojan - Alpha Efficiency
Nov 19, 2013

Control is the bottom line. And as someone who prefers control, I like having all three match types. But the better question is, should I have all three match types in one ad group, or should I spread them around different ad groups?

Dec 27, 2013

interesting article with no clear answer on tesing and use cases.i continue to se all 3 match types in 1 adgroup and since conversion tracking is not setup yeti go to analytics matched search queries to see which keywords matched exatly and also the search terms if they have more impressionsi simple add them as exact match /. phrase match inthe same adgroup[

Jan 02, 2014

Hi Liza,Great article, please continue on posting nice articles for is to tinker and make us more efficient in our Adwords management. Looking to visit your site more often now. @201 - thank you for posting your experience of creating identical campaign w/ same keywords and match types. I have decided I would give it a try :).For starters I would suggest using phrase match, modified broad match and exact matches keywords, this will be more manageable and a less more complicated and less time analyzing and reporting.For me at the bottom of it all, your goal in your campaign would determine how will you place your keywords, if you are into lead gen, generating large traffic and online presenceplaying with broad matches would really do the trick you just have to monitor them and add negatives to irrelevant terms asap so yuo won't burn your budget.I too prefer modified broad match gives more relevance and valid traffic than usual broad match. For conversion goal campaigns as a start sending more traffic and collecting/experimenting w/ matches is a must but you putting more of your money on the keyword that gets you conversion will be the way to go and this would most likely the phrase and exact match keywords. Just my thoughts :)  - MaTTyBoI      

Jul 16, 2014

Do people search using the +modified broad match? If they do. Many people could benefit if the did this to their 5 most important keywords...The Question is if they do. How can we find oout how many people actually search like this?

Oct 01, 2015

thanks guys, this article trigger me the desire to test a bit (a lot, actually) with the match types into my clients' campaigns.

keep on doing this good work!

Nov 11, 2015

Very helpful comments from 301. I'm going try the same with a poorly performing account I was just hired to fix.

Ron Stelter
Jun 30, 2016

If the match types are so important-and I think they are, why does Google Adwords give the same figures for a term-completing ignoring the match type-in its Keyword Planner? Is there some way I can get search estimates for the different match types? Giving me a generic search estimate without a match type seems rather silly-right?

Feb 08, 2017

I've been testing all three and the results are totally mixed. Using negative keywords, I'm doing okay using broad match modified, but sometimes exact match or phrase match is getting better results. It certainly would be time-consuming to analyze every single keyword to see which is best.

Feb 16, 2017

I've been using all three match types in the same ad group of the same campaign. But with 3 different bid amount. I was having a thought that the ad with the low bid will be displayed based on the search query (provided, BMM has the high bid amount, 'exact match' less than BMM, and 'phrase match' being the least). Can you people just help me to know whether I am wrong or right?

Allen Finn
Feb 16, 2017

Hi, Safeer.

You've got your bids in reverse. BMM should be your lowest bid since this is the higher volume, less relevant traffic. Conversely, your exact match keyword should have the highest bid, as any query for which the keyword is triggered will be a perfect match.

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