Stop Using Google Ads Phrase Match Targeting

Jun 11, 2024

This is why you need to STOP using Phrase Match targeting in Google Ads RIGHT NOW!

I hate to say it, but phrase match used to be my favorite match type in Google Ads search campaigns. However, I don't use it anymore. There are two BIG reasons why, and I’m going to tell you these reasons right now. Then, I will explain how I effectively use broad match and exact match together.

Before I get flooded with comments about “never using broad match,” let me explain. For anyone who has been running Google Ads before 2021, this shift may seem like a big departure from well-accepted practices. Trust me, it took me a while to get my head around it because I used to rarely use broad match pre-2021.

I know for a lot of people—including myself—that just because Google recommends something, it doesn't mean it's good. In most cases, Google’s recommendations aren't positive for your account. BUT in this case, the overwhelming data we see in Google Ads now suggests that the best keyword strategy is to use exact match combined with broad match.

I'll explain this strategy further, but first, let’s dive into the two big reasons I use broad match over phrase match.

Reason 1: Phrase Match Keyword Targeting Doesn't Work Anymore

Phrase match is now a poor and ineffective version of broad match. From our data, phrase match throws up a lot of unrelated user search terms, much like broad match. The problem is that it also limits the signals that Google uses.

How to Effectively Use Broad Match & Exact Match Together

To effectively use broad match and exact match together, follow these steps:

  1. Use Longer Tail Broad Match Keywords

    At a minimum, I recommend using keyword phrases with at least three words. Where possible, four or five words are better. This is because Google now targets the meaning of the keyword phrase, not the individual keywords within the phrase. Previously, match types were based on the words themselves, but now it’s about the meaning behind the keyword phrases. Including extra words in your broad match phrase gives Google more information about the true meaning of what you’re targeting.

  2. Ensure Your Landing Page is Relevant

    Google also takes signals from the landing page. For best results, ensure your targeted landing page has highly relevant content about your related products or services that match the keywords you are targeting.

  3. Build a List of Exact Match Keywords

    These should be keyword phrases that:

    • Have great conversion data
    • Are highly relevant keywords that you want to rank highly for in searches


In conclusion, while phrase match was once a staple in my Google Ads strategy, it has become less effective over time. By leveraging broad match and exact match together, you can optimize your campaigns for better results. Remember to use longer tail broad match keywords and ensure your landing page content is highly relevant. This new approach may take some getting used to, but the data shows it can significantly improve your campaign performance.