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Goldilocks Effect: Google Ads Keywords that are ‘Just Right’

Put yourself in Goldilocks’ shoes, if Goldilocks were a business owner in the 21st century.

You’re looking to expand your online presence and earn more clients, and you’ve decided to launch a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign.

But when you go to bid on a keyword, you realize that you’re supposed to choose a keyword match type, of which you have three options: Broad, Phrase, or Exact.

Choose wisely. Your selection could land you more clients and more revenue, or it could put you at a dead-end in a financial hole.

So, which Google ads keywords match types are best for your business? We can’t tell you for sure until we speak with you, but we can certainly say that Phrase Match hasn’t let us down thus far.

Keep reading to learn more.

Broad Match: Too Big

If you’re a newcomer to Google Ads, here’s what other SEO agencies, DIY books, and so-called ‘expert’ PPC sites will tell you to do: build a huge list of keywords, then submit those (and large variations) under Broad Match.

They’ll explain that Broad Match lets you cast a wide net. Your ad will show up for similar phrases, they might say, or, people will see your ad when they search for close variations.

Here’s what they won’t tell you: when you choose Broad Match, you’re essentially giving Google total control over who sees your ad. Google will decide which search queries are the most relevant to your keywords, and Google will decide who is the most relevant audience.

Many times, that turns out to be the wrong audience, and why wouldn’t it be? You’re submitting random search terms that don’t align with user intent. Even Google knows how random Broad Match search terms can be. Take a look:

keyword match types google

Imagine that you own a bike shop. Sales on bicycle bells have been way down, so you decide to send some PPC ads into the world. You choose Broad Match keywords for ‘bicycle bell.’ Little do you know that your ad will also show up for ‘blue bicycle helmets.’

That’s not relevant to your keyword at all, and while you may argue that a person looking for a helmet may also want to purchase a bicycle bell, that’s a pretty big assumption that you don’t want to gamble with.

Broad Match Case Study: Law Firm

Our client was grossly overspending on ads before we took over.

You can see that our client was using Broad Match keywords in their campaign.

This was our client’s Search Term Report. It gives you an idea of the search terms that their ads were showing up for. As you can see, they’re completely irrelevant to what our client was trying to accomplish.


But gambling is pretty much all you’re doing with Broad Match keywords — and with other firms. Other agencies will set up PPC on Broad Match and will show their clients the small cost per click (CPC) and tell them that their campaign is performing really well.

For example, one of our clients, the owner of a personal injury firm told us about their former PPC agency who told them their campaign was getting clicks for $4 and branded that as a success. In reality, it’s impossible to rank for personal injury terms for $4 — unless, of course, you’re ranking for completely useless, irrelevant keywords.

All in all, stay away from Broad Match keywords unless you’re really wanting to cast a wide net and are comfortable with useless queries and dead-end clients.

Exact Match: Too Small

Exact Match keywords trigger ads when users search exactly that keyword. No similar phrases here. For example, if your keyword is ‘personal injury lawyer,’ your ad will only be displayed to users who search ‘personal injury lawyer’ or ‘personal injury lawyers.’

The ad would not display to users who search ‘personal injury attorney’ or ‘pi lawyer.’ As you can probably deduce from those examples, Exact Match keywords are narrow in sight and restrictive in practice.

You’re pretty much guaranteed to miss out on some quality traffic, and such a limited focus on keywords can prevent you from discovering new consumer trends and search patterns.

But it’s not all bad. Exact Match keywords certainly have their place in a well-rounded PPC campaign. You can save money because your ads won’t be displayed to totally irrelevant consumers, and you’ll have peace of mind knowing that any clicks you do receive will be more qualified than Broad Match keywords. After all, people who are already searching for a very specific term are more likely to click on an ad that matches their intent.

All in all, Exact Match keywords are okay if you’re trying to target a very specific term that you know people search in that exact way.

Just Right: Phrase Match

Ah, Phrase Match. You give us control of keywords with the perfect amount of wiggle room. EverSpark uses Phrase Match keywords almost exclusively thanks to their accuracy and subtle versatility.

We won’t say we use this type of keyword in every campaign for every client since different businesses have different needs and goals. Still, we do believe Phrase Match is currently the best option for most sizes and types of businesses.

For one thing, Phrase Match will remove a lot of wasted spending because the keywords are more targeted and relevant. You’ll likely notice that your cost per click (CPC) increases with Phrase Match, but that’s only because you’re targeting keywords you actually have the opportunity to rank for.

Using Phrase Match, your ad will trigger when a user searches for the exact keyword (‘personal injury lawyer’) or the keyword with a term added at the beginning or end (‘best personal injury lawyer,’ ‘personal injury lawyer near me’).

Now, because terms can be added to the beginning or end of your keyword, you may get some irrelevant traffic. However, compared to the high level in Broad Match, irrelevancy is negligible within Phrase Match.

The wiggle room with this match type allows PPC managers to infer and match user intent more strategically than in Broad or Exact Match. It’s a good option to discover new ways people are searching for a given term, as the added words can give you a clue on new trends in search behavior.

All in all, Versatility + Control = Phrase Match Keywords.

We’re Here to Help You Choose the Best Google Ads Keyword Match Types

We do things differently at EverSpark, meaning we challenge the status quo when the status quo doesn’t work. Our PPC experts notice so many discrepancies and inefficiencies in the way other agencies handle their keyword matches, so we made our own process.

Before we even research the keywords that will make up a client’s PPC campaign, we speak with them to get a full understanding of their business. We must understand the financial math before we ask a client to spend money on anything. Other agencies are different, but every agency isn’t EverSpark.

As a law firm SEO agency, we’re committed to helping clients craft the best version of themselves and their websites to rank higher in Google and earn more clients.

Call us today to find out how we can make your website stand out from the rest.