How to Find Keywords That Will Drive the Most Traffic to Your Website

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In Ultimate Guide to Local Business Marketing, Google AdWords expert Perry Marshall and lead generation expert Talor Zamir introduce you to the basic framework behind a successful local marketing campaign. In this edited excerpt, Perry and Zamir explain the importance of keyword match types to your AdWords campaign. Buy it now from Amazon Barnes & Noble | iTunes or click here to buy it directly from us and SAVE 60% on this book when you use code MARKET2021 through 4/24/21.

Simply selecting the right keywords isn’t enough when it comes to Google AdWords. Before you add any keywords to your campaign, you’ll need to get familiar with the concept of keyword match types. These are very important because the match type for each keyword in your campaign determines which search queries (i.e., the actual words people type into Google) can trigger your ads.

If you don’t manage the match types for your keywords the right way, your ads can show up for all sorts of search queries that aren’t related to what you do. So even if you did an awesome job selecting your keywords, not using the right match types will kill your campaign.

Here’s an overview of the different keyword match types you can use in your AdWords account.

Broad match

Broad match keywords are those you add to your campaign without any additional characters around them (as you’ll see later in this article, the other match types are designated by things like quotes, plus signs, and brackets). Adding a bunch of broad match keywords to your campaigns is one of the biggest mistakes advertisers make in AdWords.

Why? Because when you add a keyword as a broad match keyword, your ad will appear when Google thinks that what someone typed is similar to your keyword. Only in very rare circumstances will you ever use broad match keywords. The reason is that broad match is really broad. With broad match, you’re leaving things up to Google to decide which search queries are similar to the keywords in your campaign. And Google’s idea of what searches are similar to your keywords may be very different from your own.

For example, we’ve seen campaigns for a solar panel company that had the broad match keyword “solar panel” in their campaign. Their ads frequently appeared for searches about the solar system (and “people researching the solar system” was not the market this company was trying to reach).

When you use broad match keywords, you’re giving a lot of control over your campaign to Google. That is not the position you want to be in — you want to be in control of your campaign.

Using broad match can result in getting a lot of bad clicks. And, remember, when you’re starting out, it’s very important to keep it a very targeted campaign focused on your best keywords. Otherwise, you can end up paying for a bunch of bad clicks and not get many leads because your budget’s being wasted on irrelevant search terms.

To keep your campaign focused on the best searches, stick with the other match types that we’re about to cover.

Exact match

Exact match keywords are those that you add to your campaign surrounded by brackets like this:

What this tells Google is that you only want your ad to appear if someone types exactly and only what you have inside the brackets. (Note that Google will also show your ads for plurals and misspellings of your exact match keywords—exact match is not exactly exact match.)

Let’s say one of your keywords is:

[chiropractor in ]

Essentially someone would have to type “chiropractor in Reno” for your ad to appear. If they typed in “chiropractor in Reno NV,” your ad would not be triggered for your exact match keyword.

Exact match is great because it means you are getting very targeted clicks, and you pretty much know exactly what word(s) someone typed in to trigger your ad. We always use exact match keywords in all our campaigns and highly recommend you do the same.

Phrase match

Phrase match keywords are surrounded by quotation marks in your campaign like this:

  • “chiropractor”
  • “chiropractic”

For phrase match keywords, your ads appear if someone types in a search term that includes the phrase that’s in quotations. (Again, as with exact match, Google can show your ads for plural and misspellings of your phrase match keywords.)

Let’s look at the example of the phrase match keyword:

“Reno chiropractor”

For this keyword, your ad can show up for the search terms “Reno chiropractor in ” or “best Reno chiropractor” because both search terms include the same phrase (“Reno chiropractor”) that you have as your phrase match keyword. However, your ad wouldn’t show up for the search term “chiropractor in Reno” because the words “Reno chiropractor” don’t appear in the same order as they do in your phrase match keyword. Phrase match is another great match type to use, and we highly recommend you use it in all your campaigns along with exact match.

Broad match modifier

Broad match modifier keywords are created by putting a plus sign in front of each word like this:

  • +chiropractor +Reno
  • +chiropractic +Reno

For broad match modifiers, your ads can appear if someone types any variation of your keywords. Here is an example for the Broad Match Modifier keyword:

+chiropractor +Reno

With that keyword in your campaign, your ad would show for any that contains both the word “chiropractor” and the word “Reno” in any manner. Here are just a few of the potential search terms your ad could show up for:

  • best Reno chiropractor
  • chiropractor in Reno Nevada
  • find a chiropractor in Reno
  • chiropractors in Reno NV

Because these search terms contain both “Reno” and “chiropractor” (including plurals and misspellings of those words), they’ll trigger ads for the broad match modifier keyword above. For broad match modifier, it doesn’t matter what order the words appear in the search query; they just have to be in it somewhere for ads to get triggered. However, the search term “chiropractor in Nevada” wouldn’t trigger an ad for that keyword because it doesn’t contain the word “Reno.”

When you’re starting your campaign, you may want to stick to just exact and phrase match and see what happens after the first couple of days. Then, if you need/want more traffic, you can add broad match modifiers.

Shortcut for generating keyword match types

Instead of manually adding brackets, plus signs, and quotes to all your keywords to come up with the different match type variations for each for your keywords, you can shortcut the process. We use a free tool at to make this quick and easy. When you go to the site, you enter a list of your keywords in the main box of their “Google AdWords Keyword Tool.” Then simply click the “Wrap Keywords” button, and the tool does the rest.

It will generate different keywords lists with every combination of match types for your keywords. So if you only want phrase and exact match keywords, just copy the keywords in the “Phrase” & [Exact] Match results box. 

Want the three match types we recommended using above? Simply copy the results from the +Modified +Broad, “Phrase” & [Exact] Match box into your campaign — + and you’re done!

If you have a number of keywords in your campaign, this tool will especially save you some serious time over manually setting the match types for your keywords.

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