Tips for Google Ads Keyword Matching

Running Digital Ads is a lot of fun. Many times, it’s instant feedback. If something is working you get clear results in your metrics and reporting (Right?). If something isn’t working you either see the absence of metrics or just get an “overwhelming sense of quiet” where there shouldn’t be. I sometimes get that same overwhelming sense of quiet when my two boys are playing alone.

Google Ads offers ad placement based on keywords. It’s important to know which style of keyword match is most appropriate. Editor’s Note: Insert standard disclaimer that “Google is always changing stuff so it might be different by the time you read this article.”

The success of your keyword targeting campaign is directly tied to how well you chose your keywords. Do they match how the user is searching for your product? You might be surprised how different your perception is, from the actual queries. Many of us have our own “language” for searching google and it doesn’t at all line up with how we speak or write plain English.

Google Ad Tip for Getting Best Keywords

When setting up a new google ad campaign, I’ll set up at least 2 ad groups. One contains the keywords I feel are the best match. I usually make these tight by using phrase match or exact match.  Call this group the “Money Group”.

The other Ad Group has the same keywords but in broad match. Call this the “Expeditionary Group”. Since I have less control over where these keywords match, I’ll bid lower for these.

I run the two Ad groups at the same time, looking to harvest good ideas from the “Expeditionary Group” and promote them to the “Money Group”. Also, I’m looking for negative keywords I can add to exclusion lists. Without fail, I find interesting things all the time.

Google Ads Keyword Harvesting for Improved Results

Our company, Digital Primates, has expertise in Apache Flex. This technology was popular several years ago for writing interactive applications. The underlying technology for Flex apps will be discontinued this year. As such, we have campaigns going on to find companies who need Flex App Migration help.

The Money Group had very few keywords. Here’s an example good keyword for us:

  • Apache Flex Application

The Expeditionary List had much broader matching and keywords. Here are some of the words it found that got moved to the Money List.

  • flex flash
  • adobe flex to adobe air app front end
  • apache flex sdk

There were also some duds, or cases where there exists conceptual overlap with Flex. Here’s an example of those.

  • flextime app
  • https dash iflex app
  • apps for ford flex
  • flextime facetime app
  • zizo flex watch app
  • flexpay app
  • kapuskasing flex program
  • onyx kids flex app
  • flex a bus app
  • applynowchase com flexapp
  • amazon flex application

By monitoring the Expeditionary List for a few days, I was able to pull out a fair number of keywords that made sense for our campaign, and then shut down the Expeditionary List. Think of this as planting random seeds and keeping the good stuff. As a reminder, here are the match types for Google Ads. Use Broad match for your expeditionary list and tighter matching styles (Phrase, Exact) for your higher value keywords.

Keyword match type summaries

Match type

Special symbol

Example keyword

Ads may show on searches that contain:

Example searches

Broad match


women's hats

Close variations of the keyword, related searches, and other relevant variations. The words in the keyword don’t have to be present in a user’s search.

  • buy ladies hats
  • women’s clothing
  • women’s scarves
  • winter headwear for women

Broad match modifier


+women’s +hats

All the terms designated with a + sign (or close variations of those terms) in any order. Close variations include terms with the same meaning. Additional words may appear before, after, or between the terms.

  • women’s scarves and hats
  • winter hats for women
  • hats for stylish ladies

Phrase match


“women’s hats”

Matches of the phrase (or close variations of the phrase) with additional words before or after. Close variations include terms with the same meaning.

  • blue women’s hats
  • buy hats for women
  • ladies hats on sale

Exact match


[women’s hats]

Exact matches of the term or close variations of that exact term with the same meaning.

  • women’s hats
  • ladies hats
  • hats for women
  • hats women

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