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Keywords, Search Terms and Match Types Explained


If you are using Amazon PPC advertising have you ever been confused by the difference between a keyword and a search term? You are not alone!

But it is important to know the difference to use PPC effectively. Your campaigns could be underperforming simply because you are confused over these differences.

So what roles do keywords and search terms play in Amazon PPC?

Keywords are the words (and phrases) that you enter into your campaigns and ad groups.

Search Terms are words that people use when searching for a product on Amazon.

The two are very different.

Using a keyword tool you may find hundreds of words related to your products. You use these words to enter into your campaigns. These are your keywords, which you have selected in the hope that your ad will show when a searcher types in those words.

But as you know yourself when you are searching for a product to buy on Amazon you may search for something in a really personal way.

You may be looking for an umbrella, for example.

Now an Amazon seller who sells umbrellas may have used the following as his keywords:

  • Umbrella
  • Large Umbrella
  • Folding Umbrella
  • Telescopic Umbrella
  • Black Umbrella
  • Waterproof Umbrella

BUT a searcher may be looking for an umbrella and may type in the following words:

  • Umbrella with a picture of an elephant on it
  • Umbrella to take on holiday that fits in a suitcase
  • Umbrella very large to use on days out
  • Umbrella that will fit into my handbag
  • Umbrella that has a strap to fasten on to my handbag

Yes, the common term is ‘Umbrella’ but your umbrella does not necessarily meet all the requirement of the features that the searcher is looking for.

So if your ‘Large Red Umbrella’ comes up in search when a searcher really wants ‘An Umbrella that fits into my handbag’ then you are risking that the searcher will actually click on your ad, but is not likely to buy because it just doesn’t fit their needs. They have clicked to have a look anyway therefore costing you money, with little chance of a sale.

You, as a seller, want to minimise the chance of this happening.

This is where Match Types come into effect.

Amazon PPC Match Types Explained

There are 3 match types to use in Amazon PPC campaigns:

  • Broad
  • Phrase
  • Exact

Broad Match keywords are matched and appear in search results, to search terms that contain your keywords in any order, but also matched to terms that are related to your keywords.

This can also include misspellings and variations of your keyword.

For example acrylic paint could match to arilic paint, or to oil paint, or to painting canvas even.

Phrase Match keywords narrows your target search terms to specific phrases. Phrase match allows you to control word order, so that it eliminates words that are not relevant but still target terms which include words before or after your keyword phrase. It will also show plurals and misspellings.

Exact Match keywords narrows your target search terms even more and is as specific as it gets. You are narrowing down your fields of customers to those searching exclusively for your keywords. This will lower the traffic but will result in a greater click through rate because the traffic is ultra targeted.

Let’s take a look at the differences using the keyword – ‘LARGE UMBRELLA’


This match type offers the broadest range of traffic, and will match with any similar customer search terms in any order.


Customer types in – ‘Large green umbrella’ or ‘Umbrella black large’

Your ‘Large Umbrella’ WILL be shown in results because the words ‘large’ and ‘umbrella’ appear in the search terms so it is a Broad Match.


This match type must contain the exact phrase or sequence of words. It will result in more relevant results for your ad.


Customer types in – ‘Large green umbrella’ or ‘Umbrella black large’                              

Your ‘Large Umbrella’ WILL NOT be shown in results because the term ‘large umbrella’ does not appear in the customers search in that order so is NOT a Phrase Match.


The search term for an exact match must match the keyword exactly in order for the ad to show. This is the most restrictive match type but is more relevant.


Customer types in – ‘Large green umbrella’ or ‘Umbrella black large’                                 

Your ‘Large Umbrella’ WILL NOT be shown in results because the term ‘large umbrella’ does not appear exactly in the search, so is NOT an Exact Match.

Here is another view of the match type concept in image form:-

match types

So which Match Type should you use when running Amazon PPC ads?

All of them is the correct answer.

Broad Match to get lots of traffic but less conversions

Phrase Match to less traffic but a little more targeted and likely to convert

Exact Match to get less traffic but greater conversions.

Of course all this takes lots of testing, trial and error and patience, in order to find the right match type for the right keywords.

But I hope you can see how important it is to familiarise yourself with the concept of match types, and understand the differences between keywords and search terms.

The perfect tool to help you automate the process of PPC optimisation is PPC ENTOURAGE.

Inside PPC ENTOURAGE there is a module called ‘Power PPC’ which helps you to find the actual keywords and search terms used, that you may not have any idea are leading to a sale.

It automates a lot of the tedious work of poring through search term reports and being unsure just what you are looking for.

There are lots of training videos inside to guide you into making the most of every dollar spent on Amazon advertising. Give it a try – there is a 14 DAY FREE TRIAL period too.

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