Why split AdWords campaigns by match type?

Campaigns are the fundamental building blocks of an AdWords account and should be twinned with match types to direct search query traffic to your ads

  • Group your match types into campaigns
  • Consider applying negative keywords to route your exact match traffic
  • Review your bids on exact match vs broad/phrase match equivalent

There are various ways of organizing your account structure and sometimes it feels like there are endless combinations of grouping and targeting options.

Targeting should always be the first level of organisation in your account: by site structure/theme then geo-location, language, demographics, remarketing or network (display or search). Once you’ve decided on this, the next decision to make is where you put broad, broad match modified, phrase and exact keywords.

There are various options for this, but we think it’s worth the time investing in setting up each match type by campaign. This involves work to start with and does need to be maintained in terms of keeping ads synchronized by each match type but the results are worth the effort.

Search terms

Grouping your campaigns by match type makes life a lot easier when it comes to adding search terms. Since each non-exact campaign has an equivalent exact match campaign then it’s usually a great initial place to look when considering where to add the search term to your account.

Routing negatives

One problem that you may encounter when you have this structure is search term misrouting. This is when AdWords matches a broad or phrase match keyword with a search query you have in your account on exact match. This happens for two main reasons: the bid on the non-exact keyword is higher than the bid on your exact match keyword and/or the CTR of your ad in the non-exact ad group is higher.

An obvious way to fix this issue is to reduce your bid on broad or phrase match or increase your bid on exact match. Another solution which can be used is the application of routing negatives. These are negative exact match keywords applied to your broad and phrase match campaigns which prevent AdWords from matching search terms you have on exact match to your non-exact campaigns. There are some merits to this, but we think misrouting is Google’s way of telling you that your bidding strategy has issues, so maybe it’s good to see that rather than have it masked by routing negatives.


Running out of budget this month? If you have your campaigns by match type, maybe you can switch off a few broad or phrase match campaigns to restrict your spend – broad or phrase match keywords should be worse performing than exact match keywords so you’ll get a performance bump too!


Splitting your campaigns by match type is generally a good idea, it helps you harvest and add search terms to your account and manage budgets more effectively.

Further reading

Here’s a useful article which explains the pros and cons of each method: 3 strategies for organizing your match types

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