Using phrase match

With phrase match, you can show your ad to customers who are searching for your exact keyword and close variants of your exact keyword, with additional words before or after. Phrase match is more targeted than the default broad match, but more flexible than exact match. It gives you more control over how closely the keyword must match someone's search term so your ad can appear.

How phrase match works

With phrase match, your ad can appear when people search for your exact phrase, even if they include one or more words before or after it. We'll also show your ad when someone searches for a close variant of your phrase match keyword. Close variants include misspellings, singular and plural forms, acronyms, stemmings (such as floor and flooring), abbreviations and accents. Word order is important with phrase match, meaning that your ad won’t appear if someone enters an additional word in the middle of your keyword.

Phrase match is more flexible than exact match, but is more targeted than the default broad match option. With phrase match, you can reach more customers, while still showing your ads to those customers who are most likely searching for your product or service.


Phrase match keyword: Ads may show on searches for: Ads won't show on searches for:
tennis shoes red leather tennis shoes
buy tennis shoes on sale
red tenis shoes
shoes for tennis
tennis trainers laces


We'll use your exact keyword - and not close variants - to determine your Quality Score and first page bid estimate.

How phrase match can help you

You can set any or all of your search-targeted keywords to phrase match to help you do the following:

  • Create ads with the same keywords your customers search on: You can view the search terms your customers were using when they clicked your ad. Then add the words and phrases you find to your keyword list and use exact phrases in your new ads to reach customers who are more likely to be interested in your product or service.
  • Increase your clickthrough rate (CTR): Phrase match increases the likelihood of a click because your ad shows only when it matches the searcher's phrase. It also helps decrease unwanted impressions for search terms that don't match your phrase.
  • Have your ad text appear in bold: Whenever your exact keyword matches someone's search term, your keyword will appear in bold. This can help attract a searcher's attention when your ad appears. Plus, you can't manually add bold text or other formatting to your ad text, so phrase match is a good matching option to make your ad more noticeable.

When other match types might be more helpful

  • Exact match is a better option if you know your customers well and want your ad to trigger with the exact words they search for.
  • Broad match may be a better option if you are trying to reach a wider audience than that which phrase match can provide.


We suggest using a combination of two or more keyword match types to run an effective ad campaign. If you use broad and phrase match, for example, you'll reach a broader audience while also controlling who can see your ad.

How to narrow your exact match and phrase match targeting

We'll show your ads in searches for close variations of your exact match and phrase match keywords. We recommend doing this to maximise your potential to show your ads on any relevant searches.

You can narrow your exact match and phrase match targeting for new campaigns or existing ones. Just remember that doing so means that your ads won't show for close variations of both your exact match and phrase match keywords.

Bear in mind

To narrow your exact match and phrase match targeting, you'll need to choose one of the following campaign types when you create your campaign, or already be using one of these campaign types:

  • "Search Network only - All features"
  • "Search & Display Networks - All features"

Learn about the different campaign types available

If you have a different campaign type, you won't be able to restrict your matching options. You can switch your campaign type at any time. Bear in mind that doing so may hide or deactivate some features that affect ad serving.

Follow these steps to restrict exact and phrase matching:

  1. Sign in to your AdWords account at
  2. Click the Campaigns tab.
  3. If you'd like to restrict your exact and phrase matching for a new campaign, click + New campaign. If you'd like to restrict your exact and phrase matching for an existing campaign, select that campaign and click the Settings tab.
  4. Scroll to the "Advanced settings" section. Click the Keyword matching options link. Bear in mind that if you don't see the link, it might be because you can only restrict your exact and phrase matching for certain campaign types, like "Search Network only - All features".
  5. In the "Exact and phrase match" section, select Do not include close variants.