A Comprehensive Guide to Google Ads Keyword Terminology

Paid search terminology can be complex and confusing, with terms evolving and changing over time. Here's a breakdown of some key terms to help clarify their meanings:


  • Search Keyword: A search keyword is a term or phrase you select to target and inform ad platforms like Google and Microsoft to show your ads. For example, "fluoride water filters" can be a search keyword.


  • Search Term: Search terms are the actual phrases that users enter into search engines like Google. These terms are reported to you within the ad platform when your ad is shown for a specific search. For the search keyword "fluoride water filters," examples of search terms could be "best fluoride water filter," "water filters that remove fluoride," or "fluoride water filter shower head." Search terms from search partners may have different formatting or appear longer.


  • Search Query: Search queries refer to the phrases or keywords that users input into search engines to get search results. These queries are what users type, speak, or tap to find information. For example, "water filters that remove fluoride" is a search query.


Understanding the difference between these terms is crucial for improving the relevance of your ads. By matching keywords to search queries effectively, you can enhance quality scores, click-through rates, and conversion performance.

Match types are important to consider when targeting search queries. 


Here are the commonly used match types:

Exact Match: Exact match keywords, denoted by square brackets (e.g., [fluoride water filter]), offer the most control and restrictiveness. They are designed to match search queries that have the same meaning or intent as the keyword. Exact match also includes close variants like misspellings, singular/plural forms, stemming, abbreviations, and more.


Phrase Match: Phrase match keywords, enclosed in quotation marks (e.g., "fluoride water filter"), target search queries that include the keyword phrase in the same order. 

Google understands the intended meaning and excludes queries that don't match the order. Close variants are also considered for phrase match.


Broad Match: Broad match keywords are broad in scope and can match search queries that may not directly contain the meaning of the keyword. 

Broad match utilizes various signals like previous searches, user location, landing page content, and related keywords. It can match the same queries as exact and phrase match, as well as additional phrases. This match type offers increased flexibility but may require careful monitoring and negative keyword additions.


Understanding Google Ads keyword terminology is crucial for creating successful advertising campaigns. 

By grasping the nuances of match types, utilizing tools like Keyword Planner, analyzing search term reports, and optimizing bids and quality scores, advertisers can improve the effectiveness and efficiency of their Google Ads campaigns.

Remember, continuously monitoring and refining your keyword strategy will help you to stay ahead of the competition and reach your target audience effectively.

Source: Search Journal

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