Broad, Phrase, Exact: Amazon Keyword Match Types Explained

If you want to be successful with your manual Amazon PPC campaigns, achieve high sales and the lowest possible ACoS, it’s all about one thing: bidding on the right keywords. But identifying the most relevant keywords and figuring out how to use them to your advantage is sometimes not that easy.

For example, one question you need to ask yourself is which keyword match types you should use in your campaign: Broad, Phrase, and/or Exact. Amazon gives you the possibility to allocate your bid budget to keywords of these different types in your manual sponsored product campaigns.

We will introduce you to the different Amazon keyword match types and give you tips on how to best use them to increase your sales while keeping your costs low at the same time.

Same same but different The Difference Between Keyword And Search Term

It may sound confusing at first, but keywords and search terms are not the same things. The keyword is what you bid on in your campaigns, the search term is what is searched for by a customer. Example: the search term of a customer can be “high-quality gardening gloves with claws green color size medium” while the keywords you bid on is “gardening glove”, “green gardening gloves”, and “gardening gloves with claws”.

What Are The Different Amazon Keyword Match Types That You Can Use?

Different people use different search terms to find the same product and the ultimate goal is to have your listing appear for all search queries relevant to your product offering so that every potential buyer can find it – and buy it.

In your manual Amazon PPC campaigns, you can specify how closely the search term entered by the customer must match your selected keywords in order for your listing to appear on their search results page. You can do so by assigning each keyword to a specific keyword match type.

The three Amazon keyword match types are Broad Match, Phrase Match and Exact Match.

PRO TIPCreate An Ad Group For Each Match Type

Most Amazon PPC experts recommend creating one ad group per match type within a manual campaign so it’s easier to monitor and control your bids.

Keyword Match Type #1 – Broad Match

Broad Match is the least specific and usually the cheapest match type in terms of cost per click. If you set a keyword to Broad Match, your ad can always be displayed on the SERP (search results page) as long as the customer’s search query contains all parts of your keyword in any order.

Thus, your ad can appear on the customer’s search results page even if they enter words before, after, or in between your targeted Broad Match keyword. If they use plural forms, abbreviations or acronyms, or use a different spelling (e.g. with accents), your ad may be displayed to them.

Using Broad Match Keywords will increase the reach of your ads, i.e. you’ll get more impressions. On the other hand, when using Broad Match keywords, there is a high risk that your ad and product do not meet the customer’s search intent.

Example: If you set the keyword “gardening gloves” as Broad Match, your ad may also be displayed for the query “gardening gloves for kids”. However, if your gardening gloves are made for adults, your ad is not relevant to the customer’s search intent. If they still click on your ad, you will probably not get a sale but still have to pay for the click.

In general, Broad Match keywords should only be used in moderation and primarily when you want to expand your keyword coverage and increase the reach and visibility of your campaigns.

Using Broad Match is also great for researching long-tail keywords and discovering search term variations that your customers are using to find your product that you haven’t thought of before.

Keyword Match Type #2 – Phrase Match

Phrase Match is a more specific Amazon keyword match type. Your ad will appear when the entire keyword set to Phrase Match is part of your customer’s search, meaning that your ad can only be displayed if the customer’s search term contains the keyword in precisely the same order.

So if you set “gardening gloves women” to Phrase Match, your ad can be played when the customer enters that exact keyword, but it would not be played when the customer searches for “women gardening gloves” – as it would be the case with Broad Match.

Since Amazon also displays your ad when a customer adds other words before or after the keyword in his search, Phrase Match keywords will get more impressions than Exact Match keywords.

But, since the keyword must appear 100% in the same order, it is more restrictive than Broad Match and therefore does not have quite the same reach.

Similar to Broad Match keywords, Phrase Match keywords are primarily used to expand your keyword coverage and increase your overall campaign visibility.

Keyword Match Type #3 – Exact Match

When you assign a keyword to the Exact Match Type, the customer’s search term must match the keyword exactly in order for your ad to be displayed. This means that both the order of the words and each component of the keyword must be identical – i.e. an Exact Match.

Unlike Broad Match or Phrase Match, your ad will not be shown on the search results page if the customer enters additional words before or after the keyword. For example, if you define “gardening gloves” as an Exact Match keyword, your ad will not be displayed for the search query “brown gardening gloves” or “gardening gloves women”.

Since the Exact Match keywords address a very specific target group with a very specific search intention, the reach is lower than with the other two match types, but these ads are extremely relevant for the customers who are looking for this exact product.

Exact Match ads tend to have the highest conversion rates, because the more specific the search query, the more informed the customer already is and the more determined they are to buy when they see exactly what they want.

Exact Match keywords tend to be more expensive because they are so narrowly targeted. As every seller of gardening gloves would like his ad to pop up for “gardening gloves”, the keyword is pretty competitive so the bids will be pretty expensive if you set it as Exact Match.

Yet, once you’ve identified highly relevant, very specific keywords for your product, it makes sense to place relatively high bids for these keywords in order to increase the probability of being displayed frequently for these keywords.

Spelling Mistakes And Keyword Variations

If the search term entered by the customer differs slightly from your target keywords, your ad will still be displayed.

Minor deviations include:

  • Minor misspellings – “gadening gloves” or “gardenning gloves” are considered the same as “gardening gloves” 
  • Filler words such as “for”, “with”, etc. – “gardening gloves for women” is considered the same as “gardening gloves women”
  • Capitalization – “gardening gloves” is considered the same as “GARDENING GLOVES”, “Gardening Gloves”, and “gardening Gloves”
  • Singular and Plural – “gardening glove” is considered the same as “gardening gloves”

Which Keyword Match Type Should You Use In Your Manual Amazon PPC Campaigns?

Basically, there is no universal answer to the question of whether you should use Broad, Phrase, Exact Match keyword types for your Amazon PPC campaigns, as all match types have their advantages and disadvantages.

The key to a good PPC strategy is to combine the match types in such a way that you take advantage of their respective strengths while minimizing their disadvantages. To do so, you need to strategically weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each match type.

With Broad Match you can cover many different search terms with a very small number of keywords. This simplifies the management of your keywords and makes it extremely easy to control your campaign.

Unfortunately, you can only slightly refine the Broad Match keywords, so your ad will be displayed for many search terms that are irrelevant to you and the customers’ search intent. This leads to more unnecessary clicks on your ad that eventually don’t convert and thus, high costs.

With Exact Match, on the other hand, you cover fewer search terms per keyword and therefore have to provide more of those precise keywords. Accordingly, the effort to manage all these keywords is much higher than when using Broad Match, where you only have to manage a few keywords only.

However, a huge advantage of Exact Match keywords is that they are extremely relevant to your customers’ search intent. Thus, you only target customers for whom your product offering is very appropriate. This reduces the number of unnecessary clicks on your ad, thus lowering your relative costs and increasing your conversion rate.

Phrase Match is somewhere in between broad and Exact Match, with its characteristics being more similar to Broad than Exact Match.

In general, it is recommended to test a lot and then weigh the respective costs and profits against each other.

A good tip is to run an automatic campaign first. From the campaign reports of your automatic campaign, you can easily identify the keywords for which you get a lot of clicks and conversions and add them to the Broad Match ad group of your manual campaign.

Finally, you can add the keywords that perform best to your Exact Match ad group and increase their respective bids.

Wrapped Up: The Right Combination Of Amazon Keyword Match Types Is Key!

Each of the three Amazon Keyword Match Types – Broad, Phrase and Exact – has its own advantages and disadvantages.

While Broad Match keywords generally have lower bid costs and a huge reach, they are also much less likely to match the search intent of Amazon users.

Exact Match keywords on the other hand are more expensive and much more restrictive, but only appeal to customers for whose search intent the ad is highly relevant. This means that the money is well invested, as high relevancy results in more clicks and more conversions.

Phrase Match is pretty much in the middle of exact and Broad Match, but more similar to Broad Match keywords.

The art of a successful PPC strategy is not to find out which keyword match type is THE most successful, but to combine the match types in such a way that the respective advantages are used and the individual disadvantages are minimized.

You can build your strategy gradually by first launching an automatic campaign. Amazon automatically adds relevant keywords to your automatic campaign so you don’t have to put time and effort into keyword research.

From the automatic campaign’s performance report you can then identify the keywords that get you the most clicks and conversions.

You can then add these high-performing keywords to the Broad Match ad group of your manual campaign to test them further and then – if they perform well – add them to your Exact Match ad group and increase their respective bids.

If you still have questions about the use of Broad, Phrase, Exact, Amazon PPC in general or other questions about your campaign structure, contact us now or use our free matching form to find a PPC specialist who will optimize your PPC campaigns!

Kristina Mertens

Kristina Mertens

Hi, I'm Kristina. After years of working in global eCommerce, I have specialized in helping Amazon sellers find the best service providers from all around the world. If you are looking to grow your business or expand to new marketplaces, you can browse our directory or use our service provider matching service - 100% free of charge!

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