Does Keyword match type still matter - (phrase & Exact match are not Obsolete)

Keyword match types are important and the most key component when it comes to SEM advertising because they determine how closely a user's search query must match a keyword for an ad to be displayed.

Hence, keyword plays a powerful tool in managing ad spend, keyword match types will help you tailor your ad campaigns to the most relevant audience, thus bringing in the right traffic and ultimately leading to higher conversion rates.

The changes around Google ads with the advent of more advanced targeting options, is making marketers raise concern to question whether keyword match types still matter.

In this blog we’re breaking down the historical background of match types and why they still play an important role in your SEM-based campaigns. 

Until in recent years, there was always an emphasis that exact match was the most accurate to the search query, followed by the phrase, then broad match modified.

But as things evolved, close match variants as a standalone function and broad match modifiers became obsolete.

In addition to this, around 2018, the exact match became much looser and started to feel like a combo for phrase match and broad match modified. 

Until Google, quite possibly for the first time, used the term “keywordless AI” in February 2023, it brought in many questions about the validity of match types moving forward.

The most commonly exact and phrase match is being used, duplicating the keywords in both match types, and giving exact the highest bid, then a phrase.

Sometimes broad is used but giving it the lowest bid (to minimize risks), primarily to harvest insights from the Search Query Reports and make robust negative keyword lists. 


Why Chase Keywords when Keyword less Search is echoing?

In simple words, however, a lot of changes is happening in SEM ads with automation to play. Every upgrade is not for every brand. It will all depend on the kind of strategy you’ve implied. It’s not for everyone. 


  • Shopping does not apply to all brands.
  • Performance Max though expanding and can be manipulated but still isn’t necessarily applicable to all advertisers.
  • Not all advertisers want to display imagery or placements in rotation (for various reasons).
  • Many advertisers want control of the spending and the ability to report based on where their ads appear.

Why do Phrase and Exact Match still matter?

When it comes to keyword-based search, exact match keywords still tend to hold the greatest relevancy (in terms of Quality Score) to a search query. Leading to a more cost-efficient cost per click (CPC) – with phrase match not far behind.

The exact match type is cheaper, as Quality Score populates it more often than a phrase. 

And with phrase match, you get more control over which search is triggering ads what ads compared to broad match. You can ensure that the ads only show up for search queries that are more closely related to your business or products.

Key takeaway

Match types will be there in play. And, with Phrase and exact match comprised ad groups will be the only way to be sure you are bidding on your intended query and minimizing the lack of transparency.

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