Optimization of Ads & Landing Pages by Keyword Match Type

Exact Match, Broad Match, Phrase Match – Understanding Relevance and Unlocking Higher ROAS

Match_fireWith the advent of quality scoring for ads understanding of match type has never been more important. I’m not referring to understanding how match type works from an ad serving perspective but understanding how match type drives clicks with different goals and at different stages of the consideration or purchase funnels. This impacts both your ad performance and landing page optimization strategies. So, if there is one factor of your search program you need to start understanding to improve ROI it is match type.

Recently at OTTO Digital we did a landing page test from paid search ads and created profile parameters that provided segmentation of the results based on exact match, broad match and phrase match. The findings were incredibly interesting and speak volumes about the needs of relevance (and thus conversion rates) based on match type.

The optimization we did was a simple reinforcement of the query. It looked like this on the landing page.


We’ve done many tests on reinforcements of the query (it is parsed from the referring URL and generated on the page using Offermatica) and the findings have validated my theories of the need to bridge the moment of recognition with relevance for the user. As you can see from the results filtered by match type, the less relevant the query was to the ad, the more effective keyword reinforcement was.

Results below are measured against the existing landing page that had no reinforcement:

• Exact Match +2.63% Conversion Rate

• Broad Match +4.36% Conversion Rate

• Phrase Match +15.16% Conversion Rate

While the benefits of keyword reinforcement were clear for exact match, the performance increase was even more striking for broad match and phrase match; the places where relevancy is intrinsically more challenging both ad side and on the landing page.

I hypothesize that the huge lift in conversion rate for phrase match seems to be related to the dichotomy of more specific queries but less relevant ads. Users from phrase match are hoping their query string will deliver a higher degree of relevance in the results. However, match type is rendering ads that are more generic in nature. Seeing the relevance of their query delivered on the landing page clearly had a large positive impact for these users.

The point I’d like to make is not that everyone should start doing query reinforcement. Due to its simplicity (and results) I’m using this strategy to help clearly illustrate a larger point. The relevance of your messaging and creative both ad side and on the landing page will vary for the same keyword based on match type. With the advent of quality score forever changing ad serving and pricing models in all three major search engines looking at performance data by match type and testing ads and landing pages by match type becomes essential. Strategies here to deliver relevance and improve your return on ad spend (ROAS) will only continue to become more amplified.

One easy way to start testing both your ads and landing pages is to create AdGroups separating the keywords by match type instead of bundling them together in a single AdGroup as is done most often. Distinct parameters can also be added to the referring URL to specify match type. These are the first steps. There are many other ways that we are testing with our clients to optimize ads and landing pages by match type and in the coming months I hope to share more with you. In the meantime, start testing because if your competitors are not already they will be soon.

Note: While I brushed off understanding how match type works in the engines (and it works a little differently in each) it is incredibly important. Here is a great post by Chris Zaharias from a couple of months ago on recent Google match type changes and how it impacts their bottom line.

7 thoughts on “Optimization of Ads & Landing Pages by Keyword Match Type

  1. Great test!
    We really need to start doing reinforcements of the query!
    I’m less convince about separating match type though… Considering that quality score is always based on the exact KW term, I feel that the real advantages resulting from different ads and landing pages for different match type are not that obvious, at least not in all situations.
    Actually, it would be great to test if different ads (or/and different landing pages) for each match type yield considerable better results than an optimized ad and landing page for a broad only keyword.
    Again, great post,


  2. Hey Jonathan,
    Great post. It stands the test of time.
    It’s important that you also look at the kinds of queries the different match types attract in your analysis. No amount of reinforcement will help if someone’s intent is clearly different than your product or service, e.g. you buy “dog food” on broad match and Google shows it for “cat food”.


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