Marketing and paid advertising can cause some anxiety. This is not news to anyone, but it is understandable. After all, fear of the unknown is a very real thing, and for a busy business owner, it can be impossible to know all there is to know about marketing. Heck, I don’t know everything, but I am learning more every day. When it comes to PPC and Google ads, there can be so much confusion that, if you’re not careful, you can end up hurting your chances of success.

Understanding the Basics of Google Ads

The key to not making a mistake with Google Ads is understanding the basics. In the past, I’ve had clients who were hesitant to embrace my gameplan because they lacked an understanding of how things within the Google Ads world works. This is on me for not providing a better explanation.

I hope that this blog will help busy business owners make better, more informed decisions about how to use Google Ads. Additionally, this is the blog I will point new clients to before we begin our PPC journey together.

Keyword Match Type

When you decide to advertise using Google Ads, you need to tell Google what keywords you want to use to trigger your ads. In other words, what are the words and phrases that someone will search and then see your ad?

To do this, you make a keyword list for a particular group of ads. This is where things can get tricky because you might be tempted to make a list of 100 keywords so that all possible search variations are covered. For instance, let’s say the owner of Joe’s Autobody Shop is making a keyword list and wants to make sure potential customers see his ads. He might be tempted to add keywords like “autobody shop,” “autobody shops,” “auto body shop” … As you can imagine this would go on forever. Luckily for Joe, Google lets you choose how to match a search query to a keyword on your list. When done right this reduces the number of keywords you need to add to a list.

Let’s take a look at our match type options.


This ability to choose how things are matched is called the keywords “match type.” There are four match types to choose from. A Broad Match is the most basic of search types and allows your ad to show when keywords that are just slightly similar are searched. For example, if Joe were to use the Broad Match type for the keyword “auto body repair” his ads may show for “auto repair” “car repair” “car dent removal” “auto engine work.” As you can see this match type allows for his keyword to cover the most ground but in most cases, it is too broad, and Joe’s ad dollars will end up being wasted on search terms that have nothing to do with his business.

Modified Broad

A Modified Broad Match is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a way to keep some of the broad search aspects that work for you while specifying what keywords are most important to you. Using the “+” symbol as a modifier our friend Joe can use this search type for the keywords “+autobody” “+repair” and his ads will show up for “autobody repair shop,” “autobody accident repair” “repair dents and autobody scratches” and the list goes on. However, his ads won’t run for “car engine repair” which means he is not wasting money on searches that don’t matter to him.

It’s important to understand this search type as it as very common and usually is the most misunderstood. For example, as Joe’s marketing agency we might suggest the modified keyword “+car +care,” and Joe might resist us because the term “car care” usually has nothing to do with his business. However, using the Modified Match, we are opening the term up to options like “car dent care” and “post-accident car care.” Both of these would work for Joe.

Phrase and Exact Match

I don’t want to spend too much time on the other two match types. Both Phrase and Exact Match allow someone to have even more control of their keywords without wasting ad dollars on unwanted searches. However, they are way more restrictive and will require someone to add a lot of well thought out keywords onto their list with less room for error and interpretation.

These match types can be perfect when using your brand or company name as a keyword.


Ok, so I blew past the last two match types mostly because knowing how your ads play a role in all of this is essential. It might be the most important part of this entire blog. Let’s assume that there are no dynamic elements in the ads I’m running for Joe’s Autobody Shop. This means that the ads appear on Google exactly as I write them. Now, remember Joe was hesitant to let me use the keyword “car care” because he was worried that people looking for “car care cleaning,” and “car care monthly maintenance” might find his ads and click on them, wasting his money.

This is where your understanding of the basics will pay off. Joe needs to remember that just because some of the keywords he is worried about might have multiple meanings, the content of his ads won’t change to represent a service he doesn’t offer. He will never wake up and see an ad that says “Joe’s Car Care | Oil Change And Tires.” Often the most significant push back I receive from clients is from a fear that they will get unwanted clicks. This is a legit fear, but that’s why it is important to have ads with a clear message. That way if your ad does appear for an unwanted search query you won’t have to worry about it being clicked on.

Ok, so the basics of Google Ads could be a 2,000-page book, but I hope this short blog is enough to get you going and improve your understanding of how things work. If the entire thing seems too complicated it might be time to allow an agency to run things for you. Give SMA a shout, and we can discuss all the ways we can help you.