Keyword research is one of the most discussed topics in internet marketing circles, but unfortunately most people do not understand which keyword match type they should be using.
And in a lot of cases, some people do know even know that the keyword match types exist, and just use the default method without realising.
The Google Adwords Keyword tool is by no means perfectly accurate (despite what a lot of people think), but as far as free tools go it is certainly one of the best available.
But unless you actually understand what the results mean, you are running blind and just guessing.
This is why it is absolutely crucial to understand what the criteria is for each keyword match type.
My explanation of the three different keyword match types is as follows:
1. Broad Match
This is the default option that is used if you do not make a selection from the Match Type box (refer to picture above), and could also be referred to as a typical or normal search.
A Broad match shows the number of searches that have any combination of the individual words in your keyword phrase.
So if you put dog training into the Google Adwords Keyword Tool, the results will include all searches that contain the words "dog", and/or "training".
This type of keyword match type will always return the highest number of searches.
2. Exact Match
Exact match is just as it sounds.
If we type in dog training and select the Exact match option, the results will show only the searches for the exact phrase "dog training".
This type of keyword match type will always return the lowest number of results.
3. Phrase Match
If we type in dog training and select the Phrase match option, the results will show all searches that contain the keyword phrase "dog training" with any words included at the start or end of it.
Examples could be "london dog training" or "dog training classes" – basically any search that includes the exact phrase "dog training" somewhere in the search.
In Google Adwords there is also another keyword match type which is known as "Negative Match", but this is not used for keyword research. This relates to keywords that Google Adwords Advertisers do not want their advertisements being shown for.
So which keyword match type should I be using then?
As far as keyword research goes there are two vastly different stages of keyword research.
1. When using the keyword research tool to study search volumes
For this type of research you need to be using the Exact Match option.
Most people use the Broad Match option either because they think it is the best option, or because they don't know there are other options.
But, the problem with this is that it gives you false results because you end up with a high number of results that are not targeted. The numbers for Broad Match and Phrase Match include the searches for Exact Match, but not the other way around.
The idea is to rank for SPECIFIC keyword phrases, not keyword phrase ideas – this is common sense.
It is possible to get a result for a particular keyword that gives 100,000 searches a month for Broad Match, but only 1,500 for Exact Match – and therefore it is extremely misleading.
In this example the amateur would do a Broad Match search, and see the massive number of monthly searches, and then get excited. But there is more to it than that.
Whenever you see a search result for a keyword, you must ask yourself what type of keyword match type is the result reflecting.
2. When we are doing an actual search to study the competition for a particular keyword
A lot of people get this part wrong as well.
Some people have falsely been trained to type in a keyword phrase in quotes on Google to check the competition. Some even like to look at the number of page results to work out the competition.
Firstly no one doing a real search on Google puts quotes around a search. If you want to search for dog training, you do not type "dog training" into the search box.
It is a common myth that you need to put quotes around the keyword phrase to find out who your "real" competition is. Having personally done a lot of study on this topic recently, I now understand that this gives you false results.
All you want to achieve is to see what 10 pages appear on the front page of Google, when a person is doing a normal search (which is a broad match).
And once those ten pages have appeared you simply need to click on some of the results displayed to study things such as Page Rank, amount of back links and the quality of the content. You also need to gauge the general feel of whether the site is a quality site that is going to be hard work to beat, or a site that is going to be easy to outrank.
Keep in mind that the page ranked number one, gets approximately 50% of the search traffic, positions 2 and 3 share about 25%, and the rest of the front page gets the majority of what is left over.
So, it is only really the first few results that you need to analyse properly.
Secondly the amount of pages that the search has returned is completely irrelevant if you want to test how strong the competition is. You need to look at the quality of the pages on the front page to determine how hard it is rank on the first page.
A relevant analogy would be a car race. You don't count the number of competing vehicles in a race, you only bother to take a look at the quality of the vehicles that you are competing with. You may have 200 other cars in the race – but if none of them have any petrol in them they are useless.
Once you understand the difference between these keyword match types, and know how to use them, you will be able to get the most out of your keyword research.
Remember that keyword research is usually the most important part of creating new websites, because if you get it wrong then you can waste a lot of time.
If you get the keywords right in the first place, you should be able to improve a site no matter how poorly you are doing.
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