Congratulations!  

The fact that you are seeking to know when phase match should be used leads me to believe that you are looking for ways to improve the targeting / results of your PPC campaigns.

…or at least you are trying to understand if phrase match should be used.

There is, and always has been, the thought that Broad Modified match keywords have replaced Phrase match keywords.  To some extent, it is true.  But Broad Modified has never been able to completely replace Phase Match usage for the very fact that in certain cases it leads to better targeting / results.

What are match types?

Reaching a basic level of understanding on how the match types work is very important here.  And since Broad Modified, Phrase, and Exact match are the only three match types that bring in any element of control, this post will be touching on only these three.

As a definition, I would prefer to fall back on the words Google currently uses when explaining keyword matching options:  

 

Broad Modified Match

 

Broad Modified (or Broad Match modifier) match type requires that you add a ‘+’  before each word in the keyword.

For example:  +contractor +license

When we use broad modified match, we should be aware of the fact that it will allow for ads to be shown on searches that contain the modified term (words in keyword with a ‘+’ preceding it)

And …

It will allow for ads to be shown on searches with the modified term (or its close variations) in any order.

So, if you have +contractor +license as the targeted keyword, your ad stands to be shown on searches like:

  • license for a contractor
  • get a contractor’s license
  • contractor license validity
  • licensed contractor
  • can a contractor work without a license?
  • contractor license

Simply put, Broad Modified match mainly requires that the search performed have the modified term, or its close variations, as a part of it and in no fixed order.

 

Phrase Match

 

Phrase match type requires that you enclose the words of the keyword in quotes.

For example:  “contractor license”

When we use phrase match, it allows for ads to be shown on searches that contain the targeted keywords (or their close variations) in exactly the same order as in the keyword, while allowing for additional words before or after the phrase.

However …

It will not allow for ads to be shown on searches if any words are added in between the words set in the phrase.

It will also not allow for the words in the phrase to be re-ordered in any manner.

So, if you have “contractor license” as the targeted keyword, your ad stands to be shown on searches like:

  • get a contractor’s license
  • contractor license validity
  • contractor license

But, it will not allow:

  • license for a contractor
  • licensed contractor
  • can a contractor work without a license?

Simply put, Phrase match requires that the search performed should have:

  1. The phrase term, or its close variations in a fixed order
  2. No other words in between them.

 

Exact Match

 

Exact match type requires that you enclose the words of the keyword in square brackets.

For example:  [contractor license]

When we use phrase match, it allows for ads to be shown on searches that use the same term or close variations of the exact term.

But …

It will not allow for ads to be shown on searches if any words are added in between the words set in the exact term.

It will also not allow for the words in the exact term to be re-ordered in any manner.

It will also not allow for any additional words to be added before or after the exact term.

So, if you have [contractor license] as the targeted keyword, your ad stands to be shown on searches like:

  • contractor license
  • contractor’s license

But, it will not allow:

  • get a contractor’s license
  • contractor license validity
  • license for a contractor
  • licensed contractor
  • can a contractor work without a license?

In other words, Exact match requires that the search performed should have the same exact term, or close variations of the exact term.

Of these three (Broad Modified, Phrase, and Exact) the one that usually dominates results in well optimized campaigns is the ‘Exact’ match type.  

The reason is simple, best use scenario for Exact match is when the targeted keyword has proved to work better for the account and thus set apart to allocate it a separate bid based on its actual performance.  

In my experience, Exact match terms that have been selected based on earlier account performance allow for better optimization of Ad copy and Landing page optimization … leading to higher CTR, higher QS, and best of all leading to better results for the account.

Broad Modified, and Phrase match types however do have their own utilization scenarios.

 

The When, The Where, and The Where Not

 

(definitely influenced by The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly)

Broad Modified terms should typically be used when:

  • The budget is higher and there is a need to explore for increased volumes thru a more relaxed match type, as compared to phrase / exact match types.
  • Where the order of the keywords do not indicate any major difference in the intent of the user (for example: +lock +repair can be searched for using ‘repair my lock’ or ’urgent lock repair’)

 

 

Phrase match terms should always be used instead of Broad Modified when:

  • The keywords targeted are brand names.
  • The order of the words in the search term highlight a possible difference in the search/user’s intention (for example if your brand is : “cool cab”, you might not want to show ads on searches like ‘how to make my cab cool’ or ‘coolant for improved cooling in my cab’.)  

The previous example we used,  “licensed contractor”, may be used by those looking for a licensed contractor and not by contractor’s looking to get a business license.

The following image shows an example of exactly this and how an ad seems to be promoting licensing on this search.

 

 

Yes, there may be instances where a PPC Agency / Expert prefers to begin with phrase before exploring Broad Modified as an option, but these are on a case-to-case basis and often based on your business, your budget, your targets to achieve, etc.

If you have an agency managing the account for you and think you need to go over the reasons why a particular match type was used, then Go For It!  I don’t foresee them shying away from discussing this, at least we (99 Robots) would not.

If you prefer an outside opinion to see if your match types have been setup for the best performance, feel free to contact us at 99 Robots for a free audit of your PPC account.

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