Important Phrase Match Difference Between Google and Bing

Google Ads and Bing Ads, for the most part, function similarly when it comes to the basics of search advertising. Because of this, advertisers often build and structure their campaigns similarly across both platforms. However, there are some instances where there are small variations in how search keywords work that can make a large difference in performance.

One of these differences is one I recently discovered while trying to figure out why a keyword performed much better in Google than it did in Bing. Phrase match type keywords, available on both platforms, do not function in the same way.

To understand the difference, and how it might affect your strategy, let’s look at the current definitions of phrase match provided by both ad platforms.


Ads may show on searches that match a phrase, or are close variations of that phrase, with additional words before or after. Ads won’t show, however, if a word is added to the middle of the phrase, or if words in the phrase are reordered in any way.


Phrase match triggers your ad when all of the words in your keyword match words in a user’s search query. The words can be present in the search query in exactly the same order or re-ordered if the intent of the search query matches that of your keyword.

So the main difference between how phrase match functions is that on Google word order of the phrase match keywords matters while on Bing it doesn’t, as long as the reordering doesn’t change the meaning of the query as determined by Bing.

Here is a table that shows the difference in which search queries the phrase match keyword “winter vacation” on Google vs Bing.

phrase match google vs bing

As you can see, phrase match keywords on Bing have a broader reach when compared to Google. This may or may not change your strategy between the platforms. As someone who likes to have control over which search terms match to which keyword, I’ve been adding the out of order phrase match queries as a negative to my ad group.

For example, if I had an ad group for “winter vacation” I would add “vacation winter” as a negative to that ad group if I didn’t want the keyword to trigger those queries. The order does still matter for negative phrase match keywords in Bing.

As an additional FYI, reordered words will match to exact match keywords on both platforms.

Does this difference in phrase match keywords between Google and Bing impact your strategy in any way? Let us know in the comments below!

Comments (2)

  1. Hi – My account has mostly phrase match keywords. Since the roll-out of the 2019 close variant change Google is regularly showing my ads for a single word picked out of a phrase match. For example, if I advertise “rs232 network converter” the algorithm decides to show my ad for “rs232”. Googles statement to me is “the algorithm is making an assumption about intent and deciding that each searcher implies the additional words whether they include them or not.” The cost implications are huge. I am now adding exact match negatives to my account but I am curious – are other people seeing this?

  2. Yes, we are experiencing that too across our accounts. It’s frustrating that it’s getting more difficult for advertisers to control which search terms our keywords are matching to.

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