Brad Geddes / PPC Geek
Official Google Ads Seminar Leader.
Author of Advanced Google AdWords.
Co-Founder, Adalysis.
(703) 828-5811‬
Brad Geddes's Theories on Marketing 3 Strategies for Organizing Your Match Types

3 Strategies for Organizing Your Match Types

My latest Search Engine Land Column is now out that takes a look at the ways you can organize accounts by match types.

When you have two or more keywords that can be triggered in your AdWords account from a search query, Google tries to show the most restrictive option. The constraints go beyond just match type to include geography, time of day, etc.

However, Google does not always show exact match over phrase match and phrase match over broad match. They also look at ad rank (max CPC x Quality Score). If you have an exact match term bid at $0.25 and the broad match bid at $1, Google will generally show the broad match term.

As an advertiser, you will find that your exact match converts higher than your phrase or broad match. You should control the ad serving so you know which ad copy and keyword will be displayed for any search query. You can control the ad serving through the use of bids or negative keywords.

There are several ways your can organize your match types within your paid search account. None of the strategies are better or worse than each other – they are just different. In today’s column we will examine the three most common match type organizational techniques and show the pros and cons of each.

For each of these scenarios, we will assume you are using multiple match types for the same keyword.

Adding Multiple Match Types to the Same Ad Group

With this method, you add a keyword to an ad group multiple times, each with a different match type.


Pros: The pros of this method is that you have less total ad groups to try and create and optimize. This saves on both creation and management time. If you have a limited amount of time (and/or technology) this is by far the easiest method to use.

Cons: There are several cons to this method. With exact match, you can make a good guess to the user intent of the word, so your ad can be very specific to the keyword. With broad match you know a lot less about the user intent, so you might write a more general ad copy that incorporates the keyword. This method does not allow you to write ads by match types.

The only way to control ad serving with this method is to make sure your exact match is the highest bid, your phrase match the second highest bid, then modified broad match. If your ad rank for your broad match trumps your exact match, then your conversion rates and other data by match types becomes compromised.

Restricting Match Types by Ad Group

With this method, each ad group will only contain one match type. If you want to advertise on both exact match and phrase match terms, then you will have two different ad groups. In addition, for each of your ad groups you will also use negative keywords to ensure the correct match type is being triggered. For instance, your phrase match ad group will contain exact match negatives of all the keywords.


Pros: There are a few advantages of this method.  The first is that the proper keyword match type should be displayed in a search result. You do not have to ensure that your phrase match ad rank is higher than your exact match ad rank (however, it should be as the conversion rates for exact match should be higher than phrase match). This method also allows you to write ad copy by match type.

Cons: The biggest con is that your account can quickly be overwhelmed with too many ad groups to the point that you have to create new campaigns for all of your ad groups as there are hard limits on how many ad groups can be within a single campaign. This method takes a lot longer to setup, and a little bit longer to manage than grouping all of the match types in a single ad group.

Note: It is common to see this method employed where the long tail keywords are grouped by match type into a single ad group, and then the higher priced keywords or higher volume keywords are broken down by match type into different ad groups.

Restricting Match Types by Campaign

Brand that are successful with AdWords have a campaign just for their branded terms. This campaign is often one of the higher budget campaigns because it has the best conversion rates and lowest CPA.

A natural extension of that same logic is that exact match keywords have the second highest conversion rates and second lowest CPAs for most brands. However, there is a limit to how much you can spend on exact match each month based upon search volume. Therefore, you can put all of your exact match in a campaign with a budget to capture all of that search volume.

The next highest conversion rates come from phrase matched words. Group all of your phrase matched words into another campaign.  Finally, have yet another campaign for modified broad match and broad match keywords. This last broad match campaign will use the last of the company’s budget. If the budget gets increased, then the broad match campaign’s budget is often increased. If the budget is being reached, then pull the budget from the broad match campaign which also has the lowest conversion rates of all the campaigns.

When you restrict match types by campaign, you also need to add negative keywords by match type (just like the method restricting match types by ad group) to ensure the proper keywords are being displayed.

Pros: The biggest pro to this account structure is that you can adjust both bids and budget by match types. This method also allows you to write ad copy for each match type and keyword organization.

Cons: The issue with this account structure is that you can quickly have too many campaigns. If you have multiple campaigns by match type, and each ad group only contains keywords of the same match type which cause you to also need more campaigns, and you are doing geographic targeting or the content network, you can quickly become overwhelmed by too many campaigns.

Each campaign must also have a budget. If you slice your budget too thin, then none of your campaigns will receive much traffic. In addition, this method takes more organizational and management time than the other structures. This method is not recommending for smaller budgets.


Each way you organize your keywords and match types has both pros and cons. None of them are better or worse for all accounts.

If you create so many ad groups and campaigns for the perfect organization, but then do not have the time to manage them all and some ad groups or campaigns fall into disrepair, then you should use a time friendlier organization technique.

For very small accounts with little time, organizing match types in the same ad group is just fine. If you have more time than money, and testing is essential to everything you do, then you will want to organize by at least different match types per ad groups, and possibly by campaign.

If you are working with a very large account that is constantly shifting budgets, launching products, and you have moving goal targets, organizing by campaigns is generally the best method to use.

When deciding how to organize your match types and keywords, examine your goals, time, technology, and budget. Map out various scenarios in how to structure your account. Then, pick the method that will allow you to attain your goals within the time you have to manage your account. A proper account structure is key to the long term success of managing and growing a successful paid search account.

Learn Even More About AdWords

Using match types correctly along with your selected account structure will help give you AdWords account a solid foundation. However, there is much more to successful advertising with AdWords, such as:

  • Keyword research and selection
  • Ad copy writing and testing
  • Bidding and conversion measurement
  • Quality Score
  • and much more

At times this list can seem overwhelming. At Certified Knowledge, we’ve broken down many parts of AdWords into easy-to-follow, learn, and implement video lessons. Some of these lessons are accompanied by time saving tools. With a premium membership; you have unlimited access to these lessons and tools so that you can learn how AdWords functions, implement the changes, and see the effectiveness of your account increase.

There’s no risk to peak behind the curtain and see all Certified Knowledge has to offer you. Just take a 7 day free trial and see for yourself. Start Your Free Trial.

No Comments

  1. Herik Mourão
    April 23, 2011 at 8:05 pm · Reply

    In CookieWEB we are used to restrict match types by campaign because we saw that Google triggers the most expensive keyword and this cause 2 problems:
    1 – increase costs
    2 – decreases relevancy, as ad copies are not the ad copies made for that (keyword/search queries).

    And the optimization became more dificult, we need to check 2 campaigns and make a procedure:
    when a new search querie converts more than 2 times, we negativate in broad match campaign and added on exact match campaign.

    And we separate the campaigns: Exact match and broad, broad modified and phrase match together.

  2. link_ppc
    October 26, 2012 at 11:14 am · Reply

    I have tried all these, and it doesn’t matter which you do, like you say, they have all have good points and bad. Time management is definitely an issue.

    I have over time discover the combination of strategies 1 & 2 work well. If you have the time to organise it like that.

    If not all in one ad group is the quickest and simplest option.


  3. karmakiller
    September 15, 2013 at 8:56 am · Reply

    Hi Great article.. I have a question

    Lets say I have a campaign with 10 exact keywords in and I have another campaign with the same keywords that are in the exact match campaign, but these are set to broad match modified or phase match. Would you add the exact match keywords in as a negative on the BMM or Phase campaign?.. would this work so that there is no conflicting keywords.. i.e one being given preference?

    • brad
      September 18, 2013 at 11:13 am · Reply

      Yes, you would want to add the exact match negative keywords in BMM/phrase match campaign. If you don’t Google will show the highest ad rank keyword most of the time; not the most specific one (unless it has the highest ad rank). On occasion, Google will show other keywords just to make sure they shouldn’t have higher ad ranks; but its best to add the negatives so Google isn’t making the choice – you are.

  4. Clicks
    December 7, 2013 at 4:41 am · Reply

    When separating match types by adgroup, what is the best setting for close variants? In the past I have always set the campaign to no close variants (when separating match types by adgroup.) But I am wondering if this structure will work alright when variants are included at the campaign level. Can you forsee any problems with including variants at the campaign level? Guess I am wondering how the negative keywords work with respect to close variants and if there will be any danger of cross competition between the adgroups if close variants are included. Any clues? What setting do you normally chose? Thanks.

    • brad
      December 9, 2013 at 7:07 am · Reply

      Here’s some analysis:

      I find that I have some account where singulars and plurals act very differently, and therefore its terrible. I have others where its a good change. So, I don’t think there’s a blanket rule here; I think its more about examining your data/users and seeing if the close variants have different order values, conversion rates, and CPAs. If so, then don’t use it. If not, then its a good setting to employ.

  5. Frank
    January 7, 2014 at 2:25 pm · Reply

    Great article,

    I separate match type by campaign — exact and modified broad. Being that these trigger ads that link to similar landing pages, do they compete against each other? If so, what is your recommended approach to solving that issue? Thanks.

  6. Darko SEO
    March 10, 2014 at 8:20 am · Reply

    What do you suggest for example if you have two keywords within the same AdGroup like:

    1) black cashmere sweater
    2) black cashmere sweater price.

    Is it better to set both as exact match or setting keywords No.1 as phrase match and deleting the second one? Or there is some other way to do this.


  7. Youssef
    June 6, 2014 at 10:49 am · Reply

    Thanks Brad for the interesting article.

    I have one question though. I have created 2 ad groups for the same list of keywords: one with BMM and one with phrase match. On the BMM ad group, I added exact versions of the keywords as negatives. However, when I check “Keyword Diagnosis”, Google says my keywords are excluded because of the negatives I added.

    Do you have any idea how to get around this?


  8. brad
    June 9, 2014 at 9:48 am · Reply

    Hi Youssef,

    The Google diagnosis tool only looks at that word and not variations of that word. So theoretically, you’re not showing for that word because you’re showing for variations of that word (which the tool doesn’t show). The ad preview tool is better for seeing what ad groups are being triggered with word variations.

    Hope that helps.

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