What is PPC Semantic search for Google Ads and why it matters

Semantic search is a logic that Google uses to show you the results when a keyword is being searched. It is used to understand the searcher's intent and get your campaign available for the user in organic and in paid searches as well. Google has been evolved more as a human by adopting semantic search rather than only a bot mechanism.


The contextual understanding makes the semantic search so unique. It uses the following methods after a user searches for something with a keyword.


  1. First drag meaning or intent from a user's search, 
  2. Then compares it with your prime keyword   
  3. Then Checks the match type
  4. Then trigger your ad


In 2017, Google has introduced the semantic approach for the classification of exact match type keywords. Identifying keywords is not only enough, but also you have to understand keyword match types to take the advantage of semantic search. It becomes way more essential to rethink, strategize and re-enable from a semantic search point of view whenever you go for a match type to design your Google Ads.


How Broad Match and Exact Match uses Semantic Searches

Let’s talk about, how broad match searches and exact match searches utilises the semantic approach to trigger your Ad


  • Broad Match triggers your Ad when user intent is matched. In order to do that, it considers synonyms, plurals/singulars, misspellings and close variants as well. Sometimes it changes the main keyphrase with a complete synonymical phrase to trigger your Ad to satisfy the search intent. Like the right part of the human brain, who thinks the logical version.


  • Exact Match Searches also have the same capability as a broad match but it only focuses on the exact intent of the searcher phrase to trigger your Ad. Although it can rethink misspellings, plurals/singulars, similar words but it never uses synonyms to trigger your ads.


Both matches focus on semantic searches but Broad Match searches can search for synonyms. On the other hand, exact matches don't use synonyms.


Let’s take an example of how a keyword “luxury car” will trigger the searches in each match


Broad Match- “luxury car”

  • luxury cars
  • fast cars
  • expensive vehicles
  • luxurious cars
  • luxury vehicles
  • Plus many others


Exact Match- “luxury car”

  • luxury car
  • luxury cars
  • luxurious cars
  • Luxary cars
  • Plus many others but except synonyms of your key phrase


Thus in your PPC campaign, you can use both broad match and exact match keyword for better results. Broad match will target long-tail searches while the exact match could bring the more potential user. Using both matches wisely in your Ad account will enhance the penetration and reach and also a great competitor proof technique.


How Long Tail keywords and Short Tail keywords use Semantic searches

A long-tail keyword is a phrase searched by the searcher to get more specific results. Whether any short-tail keywords are more generic. Long tail keywords provide more leverage to use semantic match as the search intent is much clearer than the short tail keyword in long tail keywords. The searcher prefers long tail keywords over short tail keywords to eradicate volume in order to get more specific results.


The examples for short tail keyword and long tail keywords are as below

  1. Selfie stick – it is a short tail keyword and generic. You will get a high volume for this


  1. Selfie stick with 360 rotation – A long tail search keyword that’s highly targeted.


Modified Broad Match and Phrase Match type

  • Modified broad Match


Modified broad match is a broad match which restricts non-relevant searchers from seeing your Ad. It also targets a wide range of audience like a broad match but it locks the word in a phrase which one is followed by a “+”. Using this match type, you ensure Google will use its intelligence for other words in the phrase but except the word followed by a “+”. It can be shown as below in the example.

Keyword - +Intel Batteries

Matches will be targeted

  • Intel Batteries,
  • Intel
  • Intel cells
  • Many others keeping Intel constant


Keyword- Intel +Batteries

Matches will be targeted

  • Intel Batteries
  • Rechargeable Batteries
  • Batteries
  • Many others keeping Batteries constant


This ensures that your search query must have the word before your Ad can enter the auction

  • Phrase Match type.

In this kind of match type, your ad will only appear when a user query matches the exact order of your key phrase. Here Google adds some words either before or after the phrase. But, it will not change the exact meaning of your key phrase. If your key phrase is “Aquarium supplies”. Then your ad will appear when a user searches for

  • Aquarium supplies
  • Aquarium supplies discount
  • Discount Aquarium supplies
  • Aquarium supplies wholesale
  • Plus more


But it will not trigger your ad when the user searches for

  • Aquarium Food
  • Fish supplies
  • Supplies
  • Plus More


Why use Negative keywords in semantic searches

 It is very essential for PPC specialists to use every match type intelligently while planning an Ad campaign. You can use all four kinds for better performance to trigger your ad.


A well-curated PPC campaign can have an amazing impact on your business. Today most PPC specialists use many marketing practises to gain profitable traffic on your Ad. But without a correct match type all your efforts could go in vain. PPC specialists use phrase match and modified broad match for their broad match searches to restrict wastage of budget. Using only a broad match except phrase match and modified broad match can bring only a few suitable.You won't be ready to gamble for those only few suitable as the loss can be higher than the benefit from the extra unsuitable searches.


But this practise will narrow your searches from finding the negative keywords. Bulk searches will bring more queries and negative keywords too. You can block those negative keywords later to get a number of authentic user searches. The semantic approach of the Broad match type will help you to know the negative keywords here.


Are Modified Broad Match and Phrase Match type semantic or syntactic ?

The syntactic searches will not change the main keyword. It keeps the main keyword unchanged during the whole searching process.


As per Above examples for the modified broad match it locks the word from your main key phrase which is followed by a “+”. Here one word is locked but the semantic searches will be applied for the rest of the words like the below example.

  • Keyword- Intel +Batteries


Matches will be targeted

  • Intel Batteries
  • Rechargeable Batteries
  • Batteries
  • Many others keeping Batteries constant


  • But in the case where


Keyword- +Intel +Batteries

  • Intel Batteries
  • Intel Battery
  • Rechargeable Intel Batteries
  • Batteries Intel
  • Many others keeping Batteries and Intel constant


You can see in the (1) Google can use semantic searches for the word Intel as you have freed the word


But in case (2) Google will keep both the keywords in the searches as you have locked both words. So, it is a completely syntactic approach.


Phrase Match types are a completely syntactic approach as the main key phrase can't be altered during the search process. Whether Google can add some word before or after the main phrase.



You should be very cautious in using match types while making your Ad design. The phrase, exact, and modified broad match will trigger your Ad if the user searches have plurals/singulars, close variants, and misspellings, with your main keyword. But the broad match only the type which targets the synonyms of the main phrase with those above attributes too.


The syntactic approach can bring you more benefits when it is used properly. So, be intelligent while using semantic match type and syntactic match type. Please keep it simple while choosing the match type for your Ad account as far as possible. Think according to the volume and searches you are expecting to get and use the match type.


Happy Ad making !!