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Keywords in AdWords

The first step in researching and refining keywords choices in your AdWords campaign is to get a strong understanding of how keywords work in AdWords advertising. In addition, by learning how user searches are matched to keywords, you can better assess keyword choices for your campaign.

How Keywords Work in AdWords

On the Google search network, when a user types a search string, Google matches the search query to keywords assigned to AdWords campaigns. It will show ads with the search results based on how closely the search query and what the searcher typed matches the keywords configured in the ad campaigns. If your keywords are matched, your ad is triggered and displayed somewhere on the page. The goal with keywords is always to be specific. The more specific the match, the more likely the searcher is looking for what you're offering. In an AdWords campaign, advertisers often start with broad keywords and refine the keyword list over time so that the keywords become more precise, generating better responses and more sales.

Google may trigger ads based on keyword synonyms, related searches, and other relevant variations of the keywords. What makes a match and triggers an ad is determined by keyword match type.

Ad Position and Keyword Matching

Where your ad is displayed on the page is determined by a number of factors including how closely the search query matches the keyword, the quality of the ad, and the amount you've bid.

How Keywords Work on the Google Display Network

On the Google display network, AdWords uses your keywords to place your ads next to content that matches your ads. The content website address is scanned, and ads are displayed with keywords that closely match the subject or web address of the page. For example, on an automobile-focused magazine website, AdWords might show ads for auto parts and supplies.

Keyword Match Types

Match Type Notation Example Ad Triggers On
Broad Match Running shoes

This is the default matching option. Your ad may show if a search term contains your keyword terms.

Broad match modifier +athletic +shoes

This option restricts when your ad will show. Your ad may show when someone searches for close variants of your keywords in any order. Close variants include misspellings, singular/plural forms, abbreviations and acronyms, and stemmings. Unlike a simple broad match, using a modifier excludes synonyms or related searches.

Phrase match "shoes for athletes"

Your keywords are less likely to show ads to customers searching for terms that aren't related to your product or service. Your ad can show when someone searches for your exact keyword, or your exact keyword with additional words before or after it; or when someone searches for close variants of that exact keyword, or with additional words before or after it. Close variants include misspellings, singular and plural forms, acronyms, stemming, abbreviations, and accents.

Exact match [athletic shoes]

This targets your keywords even more precisely by finding the exact term or close variations. Your ads can appear when someone searches for your exact keyword without any other terms in the search, or when someone searches for close variants of that specific keyword. Close variants include misspellings, singular and plural forms, acronyms, stemmings, abbreviations, and accents. Unlike phrase match, if someone enters additional words before or after the keyword, your ad won't show.

Negative match -dress
-"dress"
-[dress]

Negative keywords filter out irrelevant searches and prevent unwanted clicks. Your ad won't show if a search term contains the keyword term you define as a negative keyword. Negative keywords provide a useful way to filter your search traffic if your account contains a lot of broad match keywords. For example, if you don't sell dress shoes, you might add the terms –dress and –formal as negative keywords.

Google AdWords skills are the fastest way to grow your business, and a Google AdWords certification is the best way to demonstrate competency in Pay Per Click advertising. Whether your goals are to boost your sales, boost your branding, or even boost your resume, our Google AdWords Training Boot Camp is a great place to start. Learn these and more advanced lessons from a real instructor. With real-world examples and exercises, you will be an expert in Google AdWords by the time you leave. Sign up today!