There are three different types of keyword search traffic data; broad, phrase and exact. This article explains the differences and advantages and disadvantages of each.
- Broad- Counts all the searches that include all the search terms, in any order and with any number of other words in between.
- Phrase- Counts searches that include the search terms in that order, with no other words in between but with any number of other words before or after.
- Exact- Counts only searches for that exact phrase, in that order and with no other words.
Phrase to Broad Ratio (PBR)
The ratio of phrase/broad searches can give us an indication of whether the search term we are analysing is the most popular order and fit for the broader niche. A low PBR could mean that a different order of the search terms might be more appropriate or that most people search with other terms in between the terms being analysed.
So which one should I use?
Never use broad match to analyse individual keyword search traffic, only as an indication of the total size of the niche and to calculate the Phrase to Broad Ratio, discussed above. Use exact match as a safe indication of search traffic with phrase match being what you can expect as your page/website gains more authority. In the longer term you can expect your traffic to approach the broach match figure but this traffic will likely have higher bounce rates and lower conversion rates as its much less likely to be relevant.
Keyword Competition Analysis
For keyword competition analysis, use phrase/exact match (which are the same thing when doing competition analysis). Broad match will give an indication of how many webpages are targeting the general niche while phrase/exact match will tell you how many webpages are targeting your specific phrase.
A Slightly Different Take
I should point out that there is still some disagreement in the internet marketing community over which match type is the most important to look at. The video below, from Market Samurai, gives a great explanation of each match type and also addresses keyword competition. The video also explains the alternative view that broad match data should be used when assessing potential keyword search traffic.