It takes knowledge and experience to select the right keyword match types for Google Ads. That’s why lesser-experienced SMB B2B marketers struggle to bid for Google SEO keywords. And those who get it wrong lose valuable campaign funds to irrelevant clicks. So how do you decide the match type for the most impact on your marketing performance?

SMB B2B marketers must recognize three things before creating a Google Ads keywords list. They must know their target B2B audience, think like the customer, and study the competition. Keyword research tools can be invaluable, but only when marketers know how to use keyword match types in their campaigns. And for that, there must be a balance between reach and relevance.

The three keyword match types are broad, phrase, and exact. This piece explains when to use each type, why it matters, and their pros and cons. But first, here’s an overview of the Google Keywords Planner and four considerations when creating new ad campaigns.

How Google Keywords Planner Helps

Digital ads and SEO-optimized content marketing produce strong campaigns that place you ahead of rivals. But informative content, in whatever form, should answer the questions searched by users—at least in part. Thanks to Google Keywords Planner, you can satisfy intent by inputting question phrases, i.e., what, where, when, etc. These filters help refine budgets and target audiences by generating new ads and content ideas from keywords.

Read: Refine Your New Keywords in Keyword Planner to Learn More

SMB B2B New Ad Campaign Considerations

To succeed, you must know the basics of B2B advertising with Google Ads. The average CPC or cost per click in Google Ads for B2B sits between $2–$4 on the search network but can be higher. Therefore, keyword research and analysis should be at the heart of all new ads for B2B marketing plans to get the greatest bang for your buck.

There are five areas of consideration to help you decide on the match types to use. They can take a while, especially for inexperienced marketers, but they are critical. The idea is to turn the investment into a healthy ROI.

#1 Current Campaign Performance

Learn from the success or failings of past and current campaigns, if you have any. Knowing how similar keywords and campaigns perform will give you valuable insights. Review which keyword match types delivered the best or worst return on investment. Then you can make notes and tweak or discard the current campaign accordingly.

#2 Competitor Analysis

The best and most effective way to spy on your competitor’s Google Ads campaigns is to use competitor analysis tools. There are free options such as Google Keywords Planner or fee-based tools like Ahrefs’ Site Explorer. Ahrefs is a powerful but expensive platform and its full features are primarily used by large organizations and agencies. You can also do basic analysis without tools to get some idea of how your close rivals advertise.

Here’s how to get an overview of your competitor’s ads from a simple Google Search. For this example, we will type in the search term cyber security firms New York.


The Google search ads for the keyword are at the top of the search results pages. Click the small down-arrow right of the advertiser’s site URL of any ad. 


This opens a My Ad Center window for the advertiser. The About this advertiser box gives you the name and location of the company. At the bottom is a link to see more ads.


Clicking the See more ads link opens a new browser tab called Advertiser Page. Here’s where you can view and analyze all ads and ad formats by the company.

The sort options include:

  • Ads by time
  • By location
  • By format, i.e., image, text, and video ads

This simple trick and the free competitor analysis tools can be really helpful. But they don’t come close to some of the powerful paid competitor spy tools out there. The paid tools are expensive but insightful. They let you fine-tune your marketing plans to target a B2B audience on Google ads using solid data-backed decisions.

#3 Bid Strategies for B2B Marketing

How you bid will strongly influence which match type is most appropriate. Bidding also impacts how your ads show up when someone searches a keyword or phrase. Many B2B businesses lose money through inexperience and ineffective Google Ads strategies. If you’re new, make sure you’re comfortable with your budget and PPC bid amount. Read Google’s Understanding Bidding Basics and How the Google Ads Auction Works to learn more.

#4 Ad Text

You must ensure your Google Ads keywords are in your ad copy. Take advantage of the three headlines but be mindful of the 30-character limit. Ad text that is specific, descriptive, and includes a call-to-action (CTA) drive the most click-throughs. But be creative and dare to experiment, and most importantly, test and tweak your ads.

#5 Ads Account Structure

Your Google ads include three layers: account level, campaigns, and ad groups. How you structure this can significantly impact the performance of your keyword match types. Being familiar with best practices will help you arrange your ads, target keywords, and ad groups into well-organized campaigns to target your B2B audience.

As you can see, running effective ad campaigns is more than just choosing money keywords. It takes time, resources, people, and expertise to pay off. That’s why some SMBs use expert digital marketing agencies to handle all or part of their Google Ads marketing efforts.

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Now let’s go through the importance of choosing suitable keyword match types.

#1 Broad Match Keywords

The default broad match keywords can drive many ad clicks from a wide audience. Let’s use the broad match keyword, cell phone accessories, to illustrate. This broad term may reach searches for replacement phone screens or Bluetooth headsets. Neither of those results contains any of your keywords, but they are broadly related to the search query. The results may also show any or all the keywords in any order (see the fourth example below). 


When to Use Broad Match Keywords in Google Ad Campaigns

Broad match keywords can work well if your SMB supplies a wide range of B2B-related products or services. The cell phone accessories phrase above is a good example. Broad match keywords are also a good starting point for those new to PPC advertising. You can use them to determine which ads and search terms work and which don’t as you fine-tune campaigns.

When to Avoid Broad Match Keywords

Stop using—or retweak—broad match keyword campaigns if you get too many clicks from unqualified users. Attracting the wrong B2B audience is a wasted ad spend. It can also damage your quality score over time. When that happens, Google will force your ads further down the search engine results pages or SERPs.

What About Modified Broad Match Keywords?

You may have read about the modified broad match or broad match modifier (BMM). It was a more focused version of the broad match type above. It used a + sign before the keywords, forcing ads to show those or similar words in the user search query. However, Google retired its BMM in February 2021. Now the BMM and phrase-match modifier keywords use the same updated phrase-matching behavior (see next).

#2 Phrase Match Keywords

To use the new phrase match, you place the keywords you’re bidding for inside quotation marks “like this”. The phrase match tells Google ads to include those words in the user search query or words with the same meaning. Before Google’s update, the matched queries would use the exact order of the keywords but now include closely related variations.

Let’s use the broad match keywords earlier to illustrate. As you can see, phrase match does not display broadly related results and is, therefore, more targeted.


When to Use Phrase Match Keywords in Google Ad Campaigns

Use phrase match to focus your ads on a smaller, more targeted audience. When done right, it will bypass irrelevant users and reduce spend caused by unqualified clicks. Thus, phrase match should boost your click-through rate (CTR) and increase conversion rates.

When to Avoid Phrase Match Keywords

You may want to avoid phrase match keywords if you’re inexperienced and on a tight budget. Focusing on a smaller, niche audience makes optimizing your ad copy harder. And phrase match keyword bids are more expensive due to their potentially higher ROI.

#3 Exact Match Keywords

To use the exact match option in Google Ads, you place your keywords between square brackets [like this]. This match type gives B2B markers the most control over who sees the company’s ads. So, exact match triggers your Google ads when a user search query matches the keyword exactly, or has the same intent, and can include:

  • Common misspellings
  • Both singular and plural forms
  • Keyword stemmings, e.g., run, running
  • Abbreviations
  • Accents

This table shows examples of ads triggered by an exact match user search.


When to Use Exact Match Keywords in Google Ad Campaigns

Use exact match when you need to display ads to a highly-targeted audience. A well-optimized exact match campaign has the potential to generate B2B lead generation from every click. Add to that little wasted spend, and you can expect a healthy ROI.

When to Avoid Exact Match Keywords

You want to skip exact match keywords if the target audience for the search term is too small. Instead, use phrase match to widen your net and reach more quality traffic. Remember, most successful ads have gone through considerable copy testing. But with exact match ads, you don’t get to study alternative search queries on untested users.

How Google Ads Work with Negative Keywords

A Google Ads account lets you set up negative keywords for your campaigns. These words prevent your ads from displaying on user search queries unrelated to your business. Thus, negative keywords should improve click-through rates (CTR) by creating more relevant ad groups. And that’s what saves you money and raises conversion rates.

Negative Keyword Considerations

The negative keywords to include in Google Ads campaigns depend on your B2B industry. But let’s say, for example, you produce high-end widgets. Because you only deal in quality products, you don’t want your Google PPC ads served in front of bargain hunters.

In this case, your negative keyword list might look something like this:

  • bargain
  • basement
  • cheap
  • clearance
  • close out
  • coupon
  • code
  • closeout
  • discount
  • discounted
  • free
  • liquidation
  • overstock

Learn more about what negative keywords are and how to use them here.

Summing Up Keyword Match Types

Broad match keywords give your campaign the greatest reach and broadest targeting. For the most controlled, narrow targeting, opt for exact match keywords. And if you need to balance your reach between the two, use phrase match to target your B2B audience. But remember, broad, phrase, and exact keyword ads also match close variants. They include singular and plural words, common misspellings, and other close variants.

Get Your Google Ad ID

As an SMB B2B marketer, you need a Google ad ID to monitor campaign performance in your account. This unique number is a device identifier that lets you anonymously track user ad interactions across Android devices. In addition, you can use the same ID number to connect your account with most other Google products, e.g., Google Analytics or your Business Profile.

Go Here to Find your ad ID and Learn of the Benefits

When Marketers Use Google Ads the Wrong Way


It can be tempting for SMBs to rush when they’re short on time, advertising budgets, and resources. And it’s true; a well-run, fine-tuned Google Ads campaign takes time, money, and expertise to get a good ROI. But costs can skyrocket if you try to rush. In fact, not having a Google ads campaign is less damaging than one that is hurried and haphazard.

Here are nine common mistakes that hurt SMB B2B Google Ads campaigns:

  1. Assign Google Ads campaigns to inexperienced or uninterested employees
  2. Choosing the wrong keyword match types for the campaign
  3. Not using Google Ads with negative keywords or using the wrong ones
  4. Ad groups with huge, confusing lists of keywords
  5. Only one ad per ad group; ad copy needs optimizing
  6. Not making use of ad extensions, e.g., call, callouts, sitelinks, etc.
  7. Don’t take advantage of Advanced Location Settings
  8. Terrible landing page
  9. Poor ad tracking

Closing Comments

Keyword matching is not difficult to grasp. But running successful SMB B2B ad campaigns takes time, resources, and experience. Remember, keyword match types influence how closely the keyword(s) match the user’s search query. Hence, understanding keyword match types is one of the best ways to help fine-tune your digital B2B marketing strategies. Get it right, and you will reach your target B2B audience in a much more streamlined way.

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