So you’ve decided that you want to grow your business and Google Ads is the quickest (and most accountable) way to get there. Cool. I get it.

But did you know keywords are the engine of your Google Ads campaigns, and play a crucial role in how successful they are, not how fancy your ad is?

If you are not aware of how keywords fit into the Google Ads equation, you could end up getting a lot of clicks from the wrong people who are not looking for your products or services. What an epic waste of money!!

The first thing to keep in mind is that search queries differ from the keywords delivered in the search results.  Particularly when using Broad Match (more on that later). Let’s say you are a personal trainer running some ads and you have Personal Trainer as a keyword. This would provide impressions and clicks for people seeking a personal trainer, but you’ll likely get people searching for ‘personal training courses’; ‘personal training salaries’; ‘personal trainers for my dog’; ‘how personal should your horse trainer really be’. Randomness.

Another factoid I want you to hold on to is that all Ads within the same Ad Group reference the same Keywords.

1.     Using Keyword Match Types

Did you even know that there are different types of keywords? Don’t just click on the Google suggestions blindly. Let’s first understand the different types of keywords:

·        Broad Match

This is the default match type in Google Ads. It gives Google the most amount of freedom to determine what queries your ads are shown to. As in the example above, this can mean you get a bunch of junk clicks. If you have ads running now, go into the Search Term report and see what is triggering your ads. You will be horrified and bemused at the randomness. By using broad match only for our personal trainer, the ad could be triggered if someone searches for ‘exercises to do when at work to stop a sore neck’. Not ideal.  

In your Google Ads keyword list, broad match look like:

Potato cakes

·        +Modified +Broad +Match

These are the slightly better cousin of Broad Match and gives a little less freedom to Google. By adding the + symbol at the beginning of each word, you are telling Google that the word must be in the query. It doesn’t state in what order, or how many other words also need to be in it. Downside is that you will still get a bit of random. Using our personal trainer example, let’s say we used ‘+personal +trainer’, you would still be getting results for ‘personal trainer salaries’, ‘how personal should your horse trainer really be’ etc.

In Google Ads, these look like:

+potato +cakes

·        “Phrase Match”

Now we are getting a little more specific, and definitely bring some control into your ads. By using the “….” you are telling Google that what ever is on those quotation marks has to be in the search query. It also makes it bloody hard to write blogs without quotation marks! It tells Google that you only want the ad triggered when those words are used in that order but can have words before and after the phrase.

But, as you might have already thought, if our personal trainer used “Personal Trainer”, the ad would still present when searching for personal trainer salaries. Or ‘I hate personal trainers’ Agghhh!!!

In Google Ads, phrase match look like:

“potato cakes”

·        [Exact Match]

As it sounds, this is where you are giving Google no discretion. What ever is in the brackets must be the query; in that order; with no additional words. You know… matching it exactly.  

For our personal trainer, using [Personal Trainer] will only trigger the ad when the query is ‘personal trainer’. But this means if someone searched for ‘personal trainer in Melbourne’ which we want the ad to trigger for, it won’t if we are just using exact match.

In our Google Ads account, exact match look like:

[potato cakes]

So how do we get rid of people searching for salaries for our personal training ads, but still get some results for queries we hadn’t thought of? Using Negative keywords is how

2.     I Heart Negative Keywords

Using negative keywords in Google Ads is powerful way to avoid queries that you don’t want to trigger your ad. Negative keywords are structured in the same way, with broad, broad modified, phrase and exact match, but for negatives, broad match are the most effective. When you tell Google you want ‘-salaries’, they will (hopefully) use their logic and also block ‘wages’; ‘pay’ etc. If you had used an exact match of ‘–[salaries]’, then ‘salary’; ‘wages’ etc. would show.

There are a couple of ways to implement Negative keywords. When creating your keyword list, just stick a ‘-‘ in front, or by going into the Negative Keyword section. We can also use negative keywords to sculpt our campaigns across various Ad Groups. For our Personal Trainer, I’d be looking at having a huge list of negative keywords for things like ‘courses’, ‘jobs’, ‘salaries’ etc.

3.     Bringing it all together

We’ll cover off how to set up a campaign and Ad Group in Google Ads in another post, but for now, know that less is more. The less keywords you have in your Ad Group, the more specific you can make your ads. The more specific you make your ads, the more chance they trigger for the right query and get the right click.

As an example, say our Personal Trainer operates out of Melbourne CBD and although will service all manner of clients, is a specialist in injury rehabilitation. We’ll set up two Ad Groups; one for Melbourne and one for injury rehabilitation. We’ll use Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGs) for these, which I highly suggest you try out.

Melbourne SKAG

+Personal +Trainer +Melbourne

“Personal Trainer Melbourne”

[Personal Trainer Melbourne]






The ad itself now can reference Personal Trainer Melbourne and you can be sure that that ad will be super relevant to the searcher. People have a tendency to click on the ad that closely resembles their query, which is why Google as set up Dynamic Keyword Insertion.

Obviously, this is for demonstration purposes. Even when doing SKAGs, your negative keyword list should be huge.

Injury Rehabilitation SKAG

+Injury +Rehabilitation

“Injury Rehabilitation”

[Injury Rehabilitation]




By having -injury and -rehabilitation in the Personal Training AdGroup, we are ensuring that if someone does search for Injury Personal Trainer, they are getting presented with the Injury Rehabilitation ad. If the generic personal trainer ad were to trigger, it wouldn’t get a click and if we were doing our job properly and had ad specific landing pages, there’s no way it would convert.

4.     Don’t Set and Forget Your Google Google Ads Campaign – Continually Manage and Optimise Keywords

After the campaign is set up, your work is just starting. It’s essential to constantly review how your keywords are performing in the Keywords section of your account. Your results will lead you to ask questions: Are some keywords performing better than others? Do I need to include additional negative keywords? Are there new ad groups I can create to be more relevant? Always check the Search Terms section to see what queries are triggering your ad. This is a gold mine for Negative Keyword Mining

Wrap up on Keywords

By being strategic when using keywords in Google Google Ads and constantly managing your campaign and optimising results, you will be able to get the most from Google Google Ads. They are a lot more important than the ad itself when it comes to getting bang for buck.