Paid search advertisers may be aware that they can specify a particular “match type” for the keywords they bid on, but many don’t realize that their choice can affect their ranking.
For instance, Google AdWords offers three main match types:
1) Broad Match. Your ad is displayed when someone searches for a term that contains your keyword, with the words in any order, perhaps with other words in between. For instance, if you bid on “heirloom seeds” as a Broad Match, your ad would show if someone searched for “tomato seeds heirloom.”
2) Phrase Match. When you specify Phrase Match, your ad only shows when someone searches for the same words in the same order, although other words may be in between. For instance, if you bid on “heirloom seeds” as a Phrase Match, it would display for someone searching on “heirloom tomato seeds,” but not “tomato seeds heirloom.”
3) Exact Match. As the name implies, your search term must match exactly – words in same order, with no other words in the middle – for it display on any given search.
Broad Match is Google’s default option, and in theory it yields the highest number of impressions. But when all other things are equal, the more restrictive search term will receive the higher ranking. In other words, given the same bid amount and quality score, Phrase Match will trump Broad Match, and Exact Match will trump Phrase Match. Shy away from Broad Match and you may find that you’ll be able to get more from the same budget.