1. SEJ
  2.  ⋅ 
  3. Ask Me Anything About PPC

Match-Type Changes & Campaign Structure Choices

Do match-type campaigns/ad groups make sense anymore? Should branded keywords be protected with phrase and exact match? Find out here.

Ask Me Anything About PPC

First, I want to thank everyone who submitted their questions for #AskPPC – even if we don’t get to your question this week, odds are we’ll address your question in a future post.

Here are the questions for this week:

“Is Match-type segmentation still a viable account structure or have recent relaxing of match-type definitions rendered ineffective/obsolete?” – Joel from Atlanta, GA

“One of our clients insisted on creating a pure broad brand keyword…their reason was they wanted new terms to be added (they do not negate this from existing campaign ). Can you share your views?” – Rahul from Maharashtra, India

Selfishly, I had to use these two beautiful questions as the first entry.

Match-type theory – and the evolution of how to think about keyword choices and campaign structures – is near and dear to my heart.

I never liked segmenting campaigns/ad groups by match-type because:

  • Every campaign is a net new budget/another entity for a shared budget to support.
  • It’s rare that a campaign can support more than 5-7 ad groups per campaign, and match-type specific ad groups take up valuable real estate.
  • I’m lazy by nature, and prefer less negative and creative work.

Close variants have actually been a thing since 2014 and have influenced how keywords match on all match-types.

Yet it’s only recently that we began to notice because:

  • Exact match allows for keyword phrases to be in any order, implied words are allowed, and articles can be added or removed in the user query.
  • Phrase and Modified Broad allow for implied words and articles to be included or removed from the user query.
  • Close variants (singular, plural, slight misspellings, abbreviations, one word turned into two/two words turned into one) apply to all match-types.

Negatives present an extra curveball – they do not account for close variants, while active keywords do.

This means adding in far more negatives to protect a given keyword/match-type.

If you’re going to have match-type ad groups/campaigns, you’re eating into the 10,000 maximum negatives per campaign.


My recommendation is to think about the core 3-5 keyword concepts that represent the buyer persona the ad group is targeting.

How you choose the correct match-type comes down to your love of negative work and query auditing, as well as your honest limit for wasted spend.

A flexible budget (read high thresholds for waste) will adopt the following:

  • Single words (for example, “lawyer” “gym” “coffee” “marketing”): Exact only
  • Two words (for example: “dog trainer” “IT Management” “DUI Lawyer”): Modified Broad and Exact
  • Three to Four words (for example: “personal injury attorney” “weight loss program”): Phrase and Exact

A more focused budget that cares about efficiency in time (negative work) and marketing dollars will prefer this structure:

  • Single words (for example, “lawyer” “gym” “coffee” “marketing”): Exact only
  • Two words (for example: “dog trainer” “IT Management” “DUI Lawyer”): Phrase and Exact
  • Three to Four words (for example: “personal injury attorney” “weight loss program”): Modified Broad only

You’ll notice that single words are always on exact and two words get to be on exact regardless of objectives.

That’s because any single word on any match-type less than exact inherently is wasteful, and two-word keywords can be powerful on Exact (given the inclusiveness of articles/any order).

Where Is Broad Match in All of This?

This is a great time to bring up the second question of the post!

Broad match isn’t inherently evil and can be a powerful way to acquire data.


When you use broad match to acquire data, you want it to be a long-tail keyword (read 5+ words long) and have all the other keywords added as exact and phrase match negatives to the ad group where the broad match ad group lives. This keyword should be alone in the ad group.

I never have more than one broad match key-word ad group per campaign (the only time you’ll see me advocate for a SKAG).

Having a broad match version of a brand is a recipe for disaster because there’s no way to protect your brand or the other campaigns intended for non-branded queries.

Branded keywords should only ever be on phrase and exact to ensure the query includes the brand correctly.

By including a phrase match variation of the branded keyword, you ensure you’ll be able to get additional ideas without waste.

To Sum Up

No, match-type campaigns/ad groups don’t make sense anymore and branded keywords should be protected with phrase and exact match.

Have a question about PPC? Submit via this form or tweet me @navahf with the #AskPPC tag. See you next month!

Featured Image Credit: Paulo Bobita

VIP CONTRIBUTOR Navah Hopkins Evangelist at Optmyzr

Navah Hopkins is the Evangelist for Optmyzr. A veteran of the digital marketing industry, she began as an SEO in ...

Match-Type Changes & Campaign Structure Choices

Subscribe To Our Newsletter.

Conquer your day with daily search marketing news.