What is the difference between Exact Match, Phrase Match, and Broad Match search results. That is a question you may be asking, so I have put together this short guide (with colorful examples) to help you get a better understanding.
Part 1: First, “Let’s Define The Terms”
Exact, Phrase, and Broad Match search results are terms primarily developed for the Google AdWords pay-per-click (ppc) marketing program. Thus, it is best if you first understand their usage from that perspective.
Let’s say you want your ad to show up when people are looking for the exact keyword expression: Red Tennis Shoes.
The following are EXAMPLES that will help you understand when your ad will appear, depending how the search string is entered into Google’s search box.
Broad Match: This will trigger your ad to be displayed with all the words, but in any order and with other words in the search query.
When you create your ad, you list your keyword phrase like this: Red Tennis Shoes
Example of what search can trigger your ad: Buy Tennis Rackets and Shoes with Red Laces
Phrase Match: This will trigger your ad to be displayed with all the words in the exact order but with other words in the search query.
When you create your ad, you list your keyword phrase like this: “Red Tennis Shoes“
Example of what search can trigger your ad: Buy Red Tennis Shoes on sale
Exact Match: This will trigger your ad to be displayed with all the words in the exact order but with other words in the search query.
When you create your ad, you list your keyword phrase like this: [Red Tennis Shoes]
Example of what search can trigger your ad: Red Tennis Shoes
You don’t want people to click on your ad if they are not your target audience, as they are less likely to buy your product or produce a conversion at your landing page. Also, Google may reduce the cost of your ad if the click-rate is a higher percentage, which gives it a higher “quality score”. It is, therefore, better to restrict when your ad will be displayed, and you don’t want your ad to be displayed for everyone and anyone.
One way to restrict when your ad will be displayed is by limiting the type of keyword phrase that will trigger it, Broad, Phrase, or Exact.
Part 2: “So What Does Any Of This Have To Do With People Searching For My Keyword Optimized Pages Using Keywords In The Google Search Box?”
When the end-user enters his or her keyword expression into the search box at Google.com, they do not use quotes (“..”) or square brackets ([..]). Google simply determines whether the phrase is exact, phrase, or broad based on how the keywords are ordered and combined.
When using keyword research tools such as Market Samurai that talk about Broad, Phrase, and Exact, they are (hopefully!) using the same methodology.
When you use Googles Search Box on their home page or in one of your browser’s toolbars, you have the option of how you enter your search query string. These are known as Google Search Operators.
Example: “Red Tennis Shoes”
When you place quotes around your search expression, as in the above example, you are using one of those search operators. This tells Google’s search engine that you want to find pages on the web that have that Exact Expression in the title or content of the page.
These quotes have no relationship to the quotes used in your Adwords campaign. Zip, Nada, Rien. They are a totally separate animal. So please do not confuse the two. Placing quotes around your search query expression in the browser is NOT necessary to trigger ads that meet the exact match requirement of an Adwords campaign ad.
Here is Google reference page What are keyword matching options