Keyword Research Question: Exact, Phrase or Broad Results?

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Hi all,

When conducting keyword research with the Google keyword tool, do you look at the broad, phrase or exact results as the key indicator before deciding on a keyword?

Are the phrase results in the keyword tool the number of times people have entered that keyword in inverted commas into the Google search box? Because then surely the broad results are what we should be looking at, seeing as the average internet user is just going to type his search without the inverted commas... Or are the phrase results in the keyword tool the result of some Google formula that we should be taking cognizance of?

Some say the exact results, others say broad results. Which do you use, and why?

I have come across a niche with some handy looking figures - for example one keyword has only 7000 competing sites if you do a "keyword" search in Google, and the Google keyword tool says 12,000 people search for that keyword every month (broad results), but the [exact] results say there are only 800 searched per month. "Phrase" results according to the keyword tool are 1600 searches per month.

So now I am wondering, how many people actually go to Google every month and type in that keyword? :confused: (without any inverted commas)
#broad #exact #keyword #phrase #question #research #results
  • Profile picture of the author Steven Fullman
    Hi Nick



    Me? I use "phrase" match.

    Say your keyword is "golf club"...

    If you use broad match, your results will include:

    Golf Club, and Club Paradise - 18 hole Golf Course.

    If you use exact match, your results will include:

    Golf Club

    If you use phrase match, your results will include:

    Golf Club, what is the best golf club, titanium golf club, etc

    It won't include plurals...e.g. best golf clubs, though.

    Hope that helps,
    Steve
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    • Profile picture of the author Dan Manherz
      Originally Posted by Steven Fullman View Post

      Hi Nick



      Me? I use "phrase" match.

      Say your keyword is "golf club"...

      If you use broad match, your results will include:

      Golf Club, and Club Paradise - 18 hole Golf Course.

      If you use exact match, your results will include:

      Golf Club

      If you use phrase match, your results will include:

      Golf Club, what is the best golf club, titanium golf club, etc

      It won't include plurals...e.g. best golf clubs, though.

      Hope that helps,
      Steve
      Thanks, that's a big help. I was really getting confused over the difference between phrase and exact match.
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  • Profile picture of the author Nick Lotter
    Thanks Steven, that does make sense.

    To clarify, lets say that the keyword I am considering is titanium golf club:

    The Google keyword tool says there are:
    12,000 monthly searches (broad results)
    1,600 monthly searches (phrase results)
    800 monthly searches (exact results)

    From those results, would you say that 12,000 people are going to Google per month and typing in titanium golf club (i.e. not "titanium golf club"), or 1,600? Or 800?
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  • Profile picture of the author Biggy Fat
    Allow me to clarify it further:

    Hardly anyone that is not an internet marketer will type a phrase with quotes. They will always search without quotes. Thus the exact match would be the one you're looking for because it is that EXACT phrase in that EXACT order as your potential customer would type in the search engines.
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  • Profile picture of the author Steven Fullman
    It means 12,000 folks are using some combination of those words in a search phrase every month, such as:

    I have a titanium baseball bat which I like to club baby seals with. Where's my nearest golf course?

    ...so, not necessarily accurate.

    Exact match is very precise, but extremely limited (or focused, depending on your point of view), since it will only match the words "titanium golf club" and nothing else.

    Phrase match, IMHO gives you the best of both worlds (e.g. "best titanium golf club", "cheap titanium golf club", etc)

    Cheers,
    Steve
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    • Profile picture of the author wolfmanjack
      Originally Posted by Steven Fullman View Post

      It means 12,000 folks are using some combination of those words in a search phrase every month, such as:

      I have a titanium baseball bat which I like to club baby seals with. Where's my nearest golf course?

      ...so, not necessarily accurate.

      Exact match is very precise, but extremely limited (or focused, depending on your point of view), since it will only match the words "titanium golf club" and nothing else.

      Phrase match, IMHO gives you the best of both worlds (e.g. "best titanium golf club", "cheap titanium golf club", etc)

      Cheers,
      Steve
      I have read the entire thread and am still confused.

      If the webppage has

      what is the best titanium golf club
      I beat my wife with my titanium golf club

      Then an exact match search should show both of these since the (titanium golf club) appears in exactly that order in both sentences. Does a phrase search show

      titanium golf club
      golf titanium club
      club titanium golf

      if not then what is the difference between a phrase search and an exact search if the words have to appear in the same order in both? If the exact match only shows (titanium golf club) and not when it is used in a sentence like(what is the best titanium golf club i can buy.) Then what is the point? no one makes a blog post where the term ( titanium golf club) is sitting on the page all by itself.

      Donny can you explain why a phrase search for "titanium golf club" would show results for other keywords? Would not the phrase "titanium golf club" have to appear on the page somewhere?


      I would think that a title like

      The Best Titanium Golf Club Review

      would show up for exact match when searched for the following search terms since the words appear in the exact order searched.

      Best Titanium Golf Club Review
      Best Titanium Golf Club
      Titanium Golf Club Review
      Titanium Golf Club
      Golf Club Review

      That is how i understand exact match search. I do not understand at all the phrase search. Would this page show up with a phrase search for "best golf club review" even though titanium appears in between best and golf? All of the words in the search phrase appear in the phrase title.
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      • Profile picture of the author dburk
        Originally Posted by wolfmanjack View Post

        I have read the entire thread and am still confused.

        If the webppage has

        what is the best titanium golf club
        I beat my wife with my titanium golf club

        Then an exact match search should show both of these since the (titanium golf club) appears in exactly that order in both sentences. Does a phrase search show

        titanium golf club
        golf titanium club
        club titanium golf

        if not then what is the difference between a phrase search and an exact search if the words have to appear in the same order in both? If the exact match only shows (titanium golf club) and not when it is used in a sentence like(what is the best titanium golf club i can buy.) Then what is the point? no one makes a blog post where the term ( titanium golf club) is sitting on the page all by itself.

        Donny can you explain why a phrase search for "titanium golf club" would show results for other keywords? Would not the phrase "titanium golf club" have to appear on the page somewhere?


        I would think that a title like

        The Best Titanium Golf Club Review

        would show up for exact match when searched for the following search terms since the words appear in the exact order searched.

        Best Titanium Golf Club Review
        Best Titanium Golf Club
        Titanium Golf Club Review
        Titanium Golf Club
        Golf Club Review

        That is how i understand exact match search. I do not understand at all the phrase search. Would this page show up with a phrase search for "best golf club review" even though titanium appears in between best and golf? All of the words in the search phrase appear in the phrase title.
        Hi wolfmanjack,

        I think I need to clarify a few things to remove some of the fog surrounding this discussion.

        There is no such thing as an "exact match search". A search is either regular or advanced. Nearly all searches are regular searches and advanced searches are statistically insignificant and can be ignored when doing keyword research. There is a "phrase search", but it is statistically insignificant and generally does not appear in keyword tool data.

        The term "exact match" refers to a class of data in Google AdWords Keyword Tool that reports search volume for a specific individual keyword term. It is the only data type in the tool that shows search volume for a specific keyword.

        Again, there is no such thing as an "exact match search". There is an advanced search technique known as a "phrase search". It is used to filter all but the pages that include the exact keyword phrase somewhere within the content of the page. Again, these special advanced search queries are not typically used in any type of keyword research data.

        wolfmanjack, you seem to be mixing completely unrelated terms into a several different contextual topics, simply because they both use the word "exact", or "phrase", within the label given for the term.


        To summarize:
        • Exact Match Search - No such thing.
        • Phrase Match Search - No such thing.
        • Phrase Search - Advanced search technique that filters results that do not include the exact phrase, not related to phrase match data in any way and generally not relevant to keyword research.
        • Phrase Match Data - Search volume for a group of keywords that include the keyword within an unkown number of phrases.
        • Exact Match Data - The only data within the GAKT that reports search volume for individual keywords.

        The balance of your post seems to center on the how to optimize the page title element for the non-existent search techniques. Since they don't exist it is an exercise of futility to try to understand how to apply them. Get it?
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        • Profile picture of the author wolfmanjack
          Thank you for replying Don,

          Excuse my ignorance. I guess i was under the wrong impression that when a person typed "golf clubs" that it was a phrase search and when they typed [golf clubs] then it was an exact search. Thank you for correcting me. i do know that when i do a google search and i type "golf club" instead of golf club i get different results. Please explain how i can optimize my title and the content for the "golf club" search instead of the golf club search.

          again thank you for your response.
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          • Profile picture of the author dburk
            Originally Posted by wolfmanjack View Post

            Thank you for replying Don,

            Excuse my ignorance. I guess i was under the wrong impression that when a person typed "golf clubs" that it was a phrase search and when they typed [golf clubs] then it was an exact search. Thank you for correcting me. i do know that when i do a google search and i type "golf club" instead of golf club i get different results. Please explain how i can optimize my title and the content for the "golf club" search instead of the golf club search.

            again thank you for your response.
            Hi wolfmanjack,

            There is no difference in how you should optimize for those two different search methods. It is the exact same keyword no matter which search method is used to find it.
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  • Profile picture of the author Nick Lotter
    Thanks guys, you've helped a lot!
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  • Profile picture of the author Michele Miller
    Hi Nick,

    The results using the Google tool is not that the user has used inverted commas, it's how many people just typed that EXACT phrase. You're better off looking at PHRASE MATCH AND EXACT MATCH to determine the ratio. Exact match can be misleading on its own as you are missing buyers from the PHRASE MATCH group, who can also be buyers.

    I'm not sure if you already know about actual keyword research programs or not, but a couple I would recommend you check out to get much more detailed info, which will keep you glued to the PC for days.... lol, is Market Samurai and Keyword Research Pro. I have bought and belonged to just about all the keyword research programs available, and I really prefer these two. Of course, other programs are great too, it just depends what you need them for and how you like using them.

    Hope that helps!


    Originally Posted by Nick Lotter View Post

    Hi all,

    Are the phrase results in the keyword tool the number of times people have entered that keyword in inverted commas into the Google search box?
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    • Profile picture of the author Theresa Mayhew
      I like to use Broad match since that's how most people search. Then I put the term in quotes to find the number of competing sites.
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      • Profile picture of the author noodle2005
        Originally Posted by Theresa Mayhew View Post

        I like to use Broad match since that's how most people search. Then I put the term in quotes to find the number of competing sites.
        Putting the term in qoutes to find the number of competing sites is a waste of time to me.

        The first 10 results on the first page of google is your real competition as they are where you want to be
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    • Profile picture of the author Mike Anthony
      Originally Posted by Michele Miller View Post

      Hi Nick,

      The results using the Google tool is not that the user has used inverted commas, it's how many people just typed that EXACT phrase. You're better off looking at PHRASE MATCH AND EXACT MATCH to determine the ratio.
      Bingo. It doesn't have anything to do with whether quotes are used or not which can be confusing. I never recommend you just use exact match as some other SEOs state. You are leaving to much opportunity out. I usually go for both exact and phrase and find more opportunities that way.
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      • Profile picture of the author Niche_Boy
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        Guys i have a keyword with 450k broad monthly searches but only 46 phrase monthly searches, would that be a bad choice if i decided to pick this keyword? :confused:
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        • Profile picture of the author Optimist Cam
          Originally Posted by Niche_Boy View Post

          Guys i have a keyword with 450k broad monthly searches but only 46 phrase monthly searches, would that be a bad choice if i decided to pick this keyword? :confused:
          I would avoid that keyword.

          Broad results is a waste of time unless you are doing a google search to analyze the sites that rank in the top 10 for a keyword.

          What you should do is use the google kw tool using phrase match. This will allow you to see the popularity of a niche. Then you should check the exact match search volume of those keywords to help you find the best keywords to research further.
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  • Profile picture of the author Twonickle
    Nick,
    Sounds like your getting good feedback! If you don't have Market Samurai or Keyword Elite, your in for a real treat! I haven't tried the Keyword Research Pro Michele mentioned.
    Would like to hear how you progress and rank with the competition.
    Good Luck!
    Mike
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  • Profile picture of the author rehema
    EXACT MATCH IS THE CORRECT ONE

    This will really give you the right picture that you will work on. It will give you the result of all the searches that are done by people directly looking for that format of the search phrase that you need. While phrase much will also give you the results of the searches that are done for other product but has the same format as you keyword in explaining the that product.
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  • Profile picture of the author kwgreg
    I think exact match is best for estimating the number of searches per month for a given keyword phrase. Here's why.

    These estimates come from AdWords. If you've run an AdWords account, you know that when you bid in broad match, your ads appear not just when people search for your keyword phrase, but also when their query is a "broad match" for that keyword, and from experience you know that broad match is very broad.

    Your ad will appear when people search for phrases that are in no way related to your search phrase or website. This is why good AdWords people carefully watch the search phrases that are triggering their ads, and when their ads appear for irrelevant queries and people click, they add that query to their negative list. Now their ad will no longer appear for that query and they won't waste money paying for clicks from people who obviously have no interest in their site.

    Google's organic search results use a different search engine. When you look at the keywords that are bringing you organic visitors (using Google Analytics) you won't see so much garbage traffic.

    So, when you see a broad match estimate of search volume, this means that if you bid on that phrase in AdWords, you could expect your ad to go up many times, but when you see an exact match estimate, it will be a much lower number, because your ad will only go up when people type that exact keyword phrase.

    Thus, when estimating the number of searches per month, a broad match estimate, which comes from the AdWords keyword research tool, is telling you that your AdWords ad will appear when users type your search phrase, plus lots of other phrases, and you have no idea what those phrases will be. Most important, experience with an AdWords account and Google Analytics will make you aware of something. You'll know that in many cases, most conversions you get will be from your exact match phrase, and most of the other traffic you get from the additional broad match phrases will be wasted - the phrases often will be wildly irrelevant, very broad matches, and often they won't convert.

    1. You should not use broad match for estimates of organic search volume because out of that huge amount of search traffic you see estimated, there's a good chance that much of it won't convert.

    2. Without doubt, you'll get some broad match, organic traffic. The problem is, it won't be "AdWords broad match traffic," because AdWords is a different system, with wildly broad matching for broad match. Organically, the page you optimize for a specific search phrase will bring in some additional, broad match organic traffic from various other searches that relate to the content of your page. But you are dealing with Googe's organic search engine, so you won't get all that crazy broad match stuff that the AdWords keyword tool is telling you about. You'll get exact match traffic, from the keyword you optimize your page for, plus some broad match traffic from other words and phrases on your page. Once you notice this, you'll see in Google Analytics which of these additional search phrases actually convert well, and you can pick them and make a new page for each one.

    3. If you initially rely upon broad match, you'll be relying upon wildly huge numbers, and in reality, sometimes the number of exact match searches for that phrase may be very low. The opposite can also be true. You may get a large number in broad match, and exact match may be close to that number. You just don't know, and you don't want to rely upon bad data. You don't want to believe there are 4,000 searches for your precious keyword phrase, when in fact there are only 40, and the other 3,960 are searches for phrases that "broadly" match your search phrase.

    4. Also, you may not ever get all that broad match traffic, even in the "long term," because these broad match estimates are coming from AdWords and you are looking for organic traffic. These are two different systems. You probably won't get all that wild AdWords traffic from the organic searches. The AdWords broad match is crazy broad, whereas the search engine Google uses for organic results is more tightly focused.

    It's good to try it yourself. In the Google AdWords keyword tool, run a search phrase, and check the boxes for both broad and exact. You'll see the huge differences in search volume estimates, with broad match showing much higher numbers than exact match. Also, you'll see that sometimes the numbers are close, sometimes they are very different. You'll never know what the extra "broadly matched" search phrases are that are causing the broad match number to be so high, but frankly it doesn't matter, because you are looking at AdWords data, but you are not planning an AdWords account, right? Google's organic search engine is different, and produces more focused, relevant results.

    So, with broad match:
    • You have no idea what the search phrases are that are "broadly" related to the search phrase you are researching.
    • Experience shows that often those phrases that are "broadly" related to your search phrase often won't convert well.
    • You probably won't get that traffic from all those broadly related search phrases anyway, because you are looking at AdWords estimates, and the AdWords broad match is much broader and wild than Google's organic search results.
    When estimating number of searches per month for keyword phrases you'd like to rank for organically, use exact match numbers.

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  • Profile picture of the author b0n4r
    Always use exact if you are making a microniche site and wish to rank well for a keyword in your domain name.
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  • Profile picture of the author RichardHK
    I use broad match keywords at the start of a new campaign to draw out all the useless keywords that trigger your clicks. Have same keywords (not the useless ones) in phrase and exact to target the real searchers I want.

    After a few days, and a few dollars, you will get a good listing of candidate 'negative' keywords that you can then put into campaign to reduce useless clicks.

    Also, the new Google +broad match is good if you want to reduce the garbage that can come up. The + in front of broad keyword tells Google you don't want it to get too adventurous with it synonyms and similar.
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  • Profile picture of the author dburk
    Originally Posted by Nick Lotter View Post

    Hi all,

    When conducting keyword research with the Google keyword tool, do you look at the broad, phrase or exact results as the key indicator before deciding on a keyword?
    Hi Nick,

    The only data that tells you the search volume for a particular keyword is the exact match data. Phrase and broad match data includes search volume from many different keywords and you won't even know how many different keywords are included in those numbers. So obviously the only correct answer, in the context of your question, is exact match keyword data.

    Originally Posted by Nick Lotter View Post

    Are the phrase results in the keyword tool the number of times people have entered that keyword in inverted commas into the Google search box?
    No, phrase match data includes data for many different keywords, and as I indicated above, you won't even know how many different keywords that have been compiled into that number.

    Originally Posted by Nick Lotter View Post

    Because then surely the broad results are what we should be looking at, seeing as the average internet user is just going to type his search without the inverted commas... Or are the phrase results in the keyword tool the result of some Google formula that we should be taking cognizance of?
    No, broad match data is only useful to AdWords advertisers that are too lazy to do more thorough keyword research, or who are fishing for keywords ideas that they may have overlooked.

    Originally Posted by Nick Lotter View Post

    Some say the exact results, others say broad results. Which do you use, and why?
    Exact match data is the only data that applies to keyword research.

    Phrase match data is generally not useful for keyword research, but has other potentially useful purposes like researching a topic or industry niche.

    Outside the scope of and AdWords campaign, where you are fishing for undiscovered keyword ideas, there is no practical use of the broad match data, those asserting otherwise are likely misguided.

    Originally Posted by Nick Lotter View Post

    I have come across a niche with some handy looking figures - for example one keyword has only 7000 competing sites if you do a "keyword" search in Google, and the Google keyword tool says 12,000 people search for that keyword every month (broad results), but the [exact] results say there are only 800 searched per month. "Phrase" results according to the keyword tool are 1600 searches per month.
    There is never more than 1000 competing pages because that is the maximum number search engines will index for a particular keyword.

    As I indicated earlier in this post, broad match data does not include data for a single keyword, you have no idea how many and which keywords might have been compiled to come up with that number, it's useless for keyword research purposes.

    The exact match data is the only data that applies to an individual keyword. Phrase match will include data from many different keywords, you will have no idea how many different keywords, or which keywords are included in that data. You will only know that whatever keywords have been compiled and combined to arrive at that number has the phrase match keyword as a root somewhere within the keywords that have been selected.

    While this data is not the data you are looking for in the context of your question, keyword research, it can somewhat useful for a different kind of research, industry niche or general topic interest level research.

    Originally Posted by Nick Lotter View Post

    So now I am wondering, how many people actually go to Google every month and type in that keyword? :confused: (without any inverted commas)
    The answer is easy, exact match data is the only data that represents search volume for an individual keyword.
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    • Profile picture of the author jeepbull
      Thank you very much Don ...

      You made me very clear on how to research keyword in the correct way.
      This is very confusion by lots of people (included me ) who using GKWT and see big search volume on broad match type but actually very few search volume on exact match type.

      I was plan to rank on a long tail keyword that got 300k + for (broad match type) but actually it's on 140 search volume for exact match type and that is what people are typing on Google.

      Thanks a lot

      Jeepy
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  • Profile picture of the author jacked
    Use exact.
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  • Profile picture of the author seopintar
    Great discussion here. I always use EXACT to analyze my keyword target because in my opinion EXACT are the middle of the BOARD and PHARSE in Adwords.
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    • Profile picture of the author robsm69
      Wow Donnie, that was the best explanation I have ever read as I myself was a little bit confused about the whole keyword research thing. Finally someone who can explain it where a human can actually understand it, I would just like to say thank you for writing such an insightful piece on this topic, I haven't found anything better anywhere.

      Cheers,
      Rob.M
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  • Profile picture of the author lavinbatra
    I always like to choose Phrase match, as this will cover more keywords than the exact match.
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  • Profile picture of the author timeworks
    Exact match is what you need to look at. This tells you the number for when they type in that exact phrase. Also, consider setting your geographic location as that can change the exact match numbers.
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  • Profile picture of the author wolfmanjack
    No where in this thread did i see that it was a poll.

    Can you explain how the search for exact and phrase work instead of just saying which one you use. I use phrase and exact when i am searching for a niche but i do now know exactly how the search engines come up with their results.
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    • Profile picture of the author varsha2010
      Always use keyword with phrases..its a good method your content will look good and it will not consider as a spam or duplicate in google,
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  • Profile picture of the author ridhiseoexpert
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    • Profile picture of the author wolfmanjack
      Originally Posted by ridhiseoexpert View Post

      what you need is to use a keyword research tool.
      I have market samurai already. What i need is an answer to my question. I am asking from a content writers point of view not a looking for a niche point of view. How to write content that will cover the greatest number of keywords without having to write exact matches for every keyword combination. including exact matches for every keyword combination will make the content too weird.
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  • Profile picture of the author GSMGuru
    Awesome stuff have ever get.
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  • Profile picture of the author JSProjects
    I always stick to exact when I'm doing research. It gives you the most accurate (well, as accurate as the keyword tools are) overview of the searches a keyword / phrase gets.

    With phrase matching it can literally be for hundreds of different terms.
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  • Profile picture of the author wolfmanjack
    Thank you Don. I won't worry about it any more. It has been bugging me that when i type in my keyword with no "" i get #24 when i type in "keyword" i get #8 and when i type [keyword] i am not even in the top 100. It has totally confused me as to how google comes up with its results.
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    • Profile picture of the author dburk
      Originally Posted by wolfmanjack View Post

      Thank you Don. I won't worry about it any more. It has been bugging me that when i type in my keyword with no "" i get #24 when i type in "keyword" i get #8 and when i type [keyword] i am not even in the top 100. It has totally confused me as to how google comes up with its results.
      Hi wolfmanjack,

      Using quotes around your keyword is the exact same search as no quotes, except that your results have been filtered to exclude any page that doesn't include the exact wording of you keyword phrase. The search with brackets is not a valid search method.

      Where you rank in regular search, without quotes, should be your only concern.
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  • Profile picture of the author dagaul101
    Ideally I look at the exact matches first and foremost, and this is the basic bar to see if a keyword is worth it
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  • Profile picture of the author NEseO
    I always look at exact match, otherwise you will be really disappointed when you get to that number 1 spot and not getting all those visitors.

    Exact gives you who has searched for that exact phrase. I usually find a cluster of 3-5 keywords and go for all of them, this way you are more likely to get long tail stuff too, which helps hake up those 12k.
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  • Profile picture of the author mnov5534
    So glad I found this page! I've been swapping between Exact Match and Phrase when using the Google Keyword Tool. So i guess [Exact] is the best option because it'll give you the best indication of targeted traffic.
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  • Profile picture of the author Trevor
    Broad: That is the number of searches for keywords that are related to your target keyword. For example, if you are trying to get the traffic data for "dog foods", keywords like "puppy foods" may also be taken into consideration.

    Phrase: That's the number of searches for keywords that contain your target keyword in that particular word order. In the above case, the number would include traffic data for keywords like "dog foods", "dog foods australia", "buy dog foods", etc.

    Exact: That's the number of searches for your target keyword exactly, so in the above example, for "dog foods".

    I usually look at the exact column, as this gives me the most accurate understanding of how much traffic the keyword gets.

    Trev
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