Should you be using broad match type keywords in Google Ads?

Published at Mar 20, 2024

Should you be using broad match type keywords in Google Ads?

Broad match keywords in Google Ads are a type of keyword match type that allows your ads to appear for a wide range of search terms related to your keywords. With broad match, your ad can show up when a user’s search query includes any word in your key phrase, in any order, as well as any word that relates to your keyword. This match type helps you reach a broader audience and attract more visitors to your website

How does broad match differ from other match types

Broad match differs from other keyword match types in Google Ads in the following ways:

  1. Reach and Precision:

    • Broad Match: Offers the widest reach by showing ads for a wide range of search terms related to your keywords, but with less precision as it includes variations, synonyms, and related searches
    • Phrase Match: Shows ads for searches that include the same meaning as your keyword or more specific forms of it, providing a balance between reach and precision by being more targeted than broad match
    • Exact Match: Displays ads only for searches that match the exact meaning or intent of your keyword, offering the highest precision but with a narrower reach compared to broad and phrase match
  2. Syntax:

    • Broad Match: Uses the keyword without any modifiers, making it the default match type in Google Ads
    • Phrase Match: Involves placing quotes around the entire keyword to match search terms with the same meaning as the keyword
    • Exact Match: Requires brackets around the entire keyword to match exact search queries and searches with the same meaning
  3. Audience Targeting:

    • Broad Match: Reaches a wide audience but may attract unrefined visitors as the terms they search for are related to your keyword
    • Phrase Match: Targets a smaller audience but ensures ads are shown only in searches that include what your ad is for, leading to more refined audiences compared to broad match
    • Exact Match: Provides the most refined visitors to your site by showing ads only for searches with the exact meaning or intent of your keyword

Are broad match types cheaper than the alternatives?

Broad match keywords are not always cheaper compared to other match types in Google Ads. Here are some key points to consider:

  1. Cost per Click (CPC):

    • Broad match keywords can have a lower cost per click compared to other match types like phrase or exact match
    • The theory behind this is that less targeted keywords face less competition, resulting in a lower cost per click
  2. Cost per Conversion:

    • Broad match keywords may have the lowest cost per conversion despite having the lowest conversion rate
    • This suggests that while broad match may lead to lower conversion rates, the cost to acquire traffic offsets these lower conversion rates, resulting in a lower cost per conversion
  3. Performance Metrics:

    • Exact match keywords tend to outperform broad match in terms of metrics like CPC, CTR, CPA, ROAS, and conversion rate for the majority of accounts
    • Conversion-oriented metrics like CPA and ROAS often favor exact match over broad match

Does broad match impact performance?

Broad match can have a significant impact on the performance of Google Ads campaigns, both positively and negatively, depending on various factors.

  1. Increased Reach:

    • Broad match keywords offer a vast reach compared to other match types, allowing ads to show for a wide range of search queries, including synonyms, plurals, abbreviations, and more
    • This increased reach can help capture more searches and potential customers, potentially leading to higher impressions and clicks on related search queries
  2. Potential Decrease in Relevance:

    • While broad match can expand the reach of campaigns, it can also lead to a decrease in overall campaign performance and relevancy if not managed effectively
    • The broad nature of broad match keywords may result in ads being triggered by unrelated or irrelevant queries, leading to lower click-through rates and conversion rates
  3. Challenges and Optimization:

    • Using broad match keywords can present challenges for advertisers, such as controlling the exact keywords that trigger ads and managing irrelevant traffic
    • Advertisers need to carefully monitor and optimize broad match campaigns by adding negative keywords to filter out irrelevant traffic and improve the overall performance of the campaigns
  4. Data and Automation:

    • Google recommends broad match because it generates a significant amount of data for its algorithm, which can be beneficial for optimizing campaigns
    • Combining broad match with smart bidding strategies and responsive search ads can help advertisers leverage automation and machine learning to align ads with searchers’ intent and improve performance

Broad match and smart bidding

Broad match keywords pair particularly well with Smart Bidding strategies in Google Ads, including Maximize conversions, Maximize conversion value, Target CPA, and Target ROAS.

Smart Bidding leverages Google’s AI to optimize for conversions or conversion value in each auction through “auction-time bidding.” When combined with broad match, Smart Bidding eliminates the need to segment by match type for optimization, allowing the bidding system to set bids for individual auctions based on performance likelihood.

Broad match keywords enable algorithms to learn faster, find additional auctions, and help achieve growth objectives efficiently The use of Smart Bidding alongside broad match keywords is crucial to manage the wide-ranging nature of search queries. Smart Bidding considers various contextual signals like device, location, and time of day to optimize bids for optimal conversion performance.

By pairing broad match with Smart Bidding, the bidding system can identify relevant searches with potential and avoid irrelevant ones, setting appropriate bids or preventing ads from showing in unproductive auctions. This combination allows for more data gathering to identify effective keywords for generating conversions

List of contextual signals in Google Ads

The contextual signals of Smart Bidding in Google Ads include bit are not limited to:

  • Device Description: Optimizing bids based on whether someone is on a mobile, desktop, or tablet device.
  • Location Description: Adjusting bids based on the specific location (down to the city) of the user.
  • Location Intent: Optimizing bids based on someone’s location intent in addition to their physical location.
  • Remarketing List Membership: Tailoring bids based on whether a user is on a remarketing list.
  • Ad Characteristics: Adjusting bids based on ad characteristics like ad format, extensions, and more.
  • User’s Browser: Optimizing bids depending on the browser used by the user.
  • Time of Day: Adjusting bids according to the time of day when the auction takes place.
  • Operating System: Tailoring bids based on the user’s operating system.
  • Search Query Performance: Considering how well the keyword has performed in your campaigns.
  • Target Budget: Setting bids according to cost-per-action (CPA) or return on ad spend (ROAS) targets

Optimising broad match types

To optimize broad match keywords in Google Ads, you can follow these steps

  1. Optimize Negative Keywords:

    • Create a comprehensive list of negative keywords to filter out irrelevant searches and ensure your ads are shown to a more relevant audience
    • Regularly update and refine this list based on search term reports to improve targeting and reduce wasted ad spend
  2. Organize Keyword Ad Groups:

    • Organize your broad match keywords into tightly themed ad groups to allow for more tailored ad messaging and landing pages, increasing relevance and click-through rates
  3. Constant Monitoring:

    • Regularly review performance metrics and search term reports to identify which broad match keywords are driving valuable traffic
    • Adjust bids, add negatives, or refine your keyword list accordingly based on performance data for improved targeting
  1. Test and Refine Ad Copy:
    • Craft compelling ad copies that cater to various intents associated with your broad match keywords
    • Continuously test different ad variations to find the most effective messaging that resonates with your audience

Pros and Cons of broad match type


  1. Reaching a Wider Audience: Broad match allows your ads to reach a broader audience by showing up for a wide range of search terms related to your keywords
  2. Lowest Cost per Conversion: Broad match has been found to have the lowest cost per conversion compared to other match types, making it cost-effective for acquiring traffic
  3. More Data and Flexibility for Smart Bidding: Broad match keywords provide more data and flexibility for Smart Bidding strategies, enhancing campaign performance


  1. Risk of Irrelevant Clicks: Broad match can lead to your ad showing for irrelevant searches, potentially wasting your advertising budget on clicks that are not valuable
  2. Lower Impressions: Using broad match may reduce impression volume as it eliminates synonyms and negative keywords, limiting the scope of your targeting
  3. Less Control Over Search Queries: With broad match, you have less control over which specific search queries trigger your ads, which can result in less targeted traffic

Should you use broad match types

The decision whether or not to use broad match keywords in Google Ads depends on your advertising goals and strategy. Here are some key points to consider:

  1. Advantages of Broad Match:

    • Broad match keywords can help you reach a wider audience by showing your ads for a variety of related search terms, potentially increasing your reach and coverage
    • They provide more data and flexibility for Smart Bidding, allowing for better campaign performance and optimization
    • Broad match keywords can attract more visitors to your website and save time on building extensive keyword lists
  2. Challenges with Broad Match:

    • Broad match may lead to irrelevant clicks and unrefined traffic as it includes a wide range of search terms related to your keywords, potentially impacting the quality of traffic
    • While broad match can drive more clicks, it’s crucial to monitor search query reports closely to ensure you’re not paying for irrelevant clicks and to refine your targeting with negative keywords
    • Advertisers need to balance the broad reach of these keywords with the need to ensure relevance and avoid attracting irrelevant traffic
  3. Recommendation:

    • If you have a large budget or are willing to test extensively, using broad match keywords alongside a strong negative keyword strategy and smart bidding can be beneficial
    • Combining broad match with other match types like phrase and exact match, along with monitoring performance closely, can help you achieve a balance between reach and relevance in your campaigns

In conclusion, the decision to use broad match keywords in Google Ads should be based on your specific advertising goals, budget, and the level of control and precision you require in targeting your audience.

It can be a valuable tool for reaching a broader audience, but it’s essential to carefully manage and optimize your campaigns to ensure you attract relevant traffic and maximize the effectiveness of your advertising efforts.

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