Should You Combine Exact and Phrase Match Types in Your Google Ads Campaigns?

'Keyword' definition in dictionary

Should You Combine Exact and Phrase Match Types in Your Google Ads Campaigns?

In the ever-shifting world of digital marketing, staying ahead of the latest trends is the name of the game. As we roll into 2024, the tried and tested methods for mastering Google Ads are undergoing an overhaul thanks to Google’s ever-evolving algorithms.

One particular strategy is gaining traction – the approach of combining Phrase and Exact match types. This dynamic duo enables marketers to effectively target the desired keyword searches, providing a more adaptable, intelligent and cost-efficient solution.

The story so far

Google’s search algorithms have become sharper than a cactus needle, and the once-clear lines between match types are now blurring into a fog of possibilities. Exact match types, once the gold standard of precision, no longer guarantee a rigid adherence to your chosen keywords.

Google’s algorithm has become more intelligent, interpreting user intent and providing relevant results even if they don’t exactly match the keywords inputted. This shift in Google’s approach has prompted a redesign of traditional strategies.

Solely relying on Exact match types may not be the silver bullet for success any more. To rub a bit of salt in the wounds, the cost per click (CPC) for Exact terms has seen a not-so-subtle increase, turning it into a costly affair for advertisers.

So, here comes the protagonist of our story – the mixing of Phrase and Exact match types. By mixing these two approaches, advertisers can effectively traverse the search landscape with ease.

Keyword match types in Google Ads infographic

What are keyword match types in Google Ads?

In Google Ads, your chosen keyword match type defines the range of search queries that can activate your ads, impacting reach and relevance.

The three match types are:

Broad match: The search relates to your keywords. Highest reach, lowest relevance.

Phrase match: The search includes your keywords. Medium reach, medium relevance.

Exact match: The search matches your keywords. Lowest reach, highest relevance.

How to use this fusion strategy in 2024

1. Variations in search queries

Google’s algorithm has had to don its Sherlock Holmes hat as search queries increasingly become ambiguous. Users often throw in different phrasing or sprinkle additional terms into their searches, turning the search engine into a virtual detective that must decipher the clues to deliver the most relevant results.

Enter our heroes – Phrase and Exact match types. This complementary duo allows advertisers to cast a wide net over a variety of relevant searches while still maintaining a level of precision and control. For example, if your Exact match keyword is “funky socks,” the Phrase match might catch variations like “quirky foot warmers” or “eccentric sock collection.”

This nuanced approach ensures that your ads pop up on the screens of potential customers, even if the exact keywords are playing hide-and-seek in their search queries.

2. Dodge the bullet of escalating exact match CPC

As the need for accuracy grows, so does the monthly invoice. Exact match types, once the unsung hero of cost control, are now accompanied by a higher CPC. Advertisers can get around this by strategically blending in some Phrase match types. This not only helps maintain visibility but also throws a lifeline against the rising costs linked with Exact match terms.

3. Send the right signals to Google

For this hero team to steal the show, account managers need to be the puppet masters behind the scenes. It’s crucial to send the right signals to Google by accurately communicating primary conversions. This allows the algorithm to understand and work towards the desired outcomes.

Advertisers should keep a keen eye on performance metrics and tweak campaigns based on their goals and objectives.

4. Craft an iron-clad negative keyword arsenal

Success in this strategy requires a bulletproof negative keyword approach. Account managers need to wield strong negative keyword lists to fend off irrelevant traffic. Regularly polishing and refining these lists ensures that your ads are shown to a highly relevant audience, squeezing the most juice out of your investment.


As we enter 2024, account managers should embrace the art of combining Phrase and Exact match types, constantly refining and perfecting campaigns. By combining Phrase and Exact match types, advertisers can hit the right notes between precision and reach, ensuring their campaigns stay in the spotlight amidst Google’s changing algorithms.

This dynamic strategy not only captures a diverse range of relevant searches but also tackles the financial challenges associated with the rise of Exact match CPC. After all, success lies in the ability to adapt, and this fusion approach is a testament to that.

Need a hand?

If you need help rethinking your PPC advertising strategy, let Disruptiv Media audit your Google Ads account in 2024. We can provide free insights from a fresh pair of experienced eyes.

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