Using exact match

With exact match, you can show your ad to customers who are searching for your exact keyword, or close variants of your exact keyword, exclusively. Of the four keyword matching options, exact match gives you the most control over who sees your ad, and can result in a higher clickthrough rate (CTR).

How exact match works

With exact match, your ads may appear when the meaning of someone’s search exactly matches your keyword.

We'll show your ad when someone searches for your keyword or close variants of your keyword. Close variants may include:

  • Misspellings
  • Singular or plural forms
  • Stemmings (for example, floor and flooring)
  • Abbreviations
  • Accents
  • Reordered words with the same meaning (for example, [shoes mens] and [mens shoes])
  • Addition or removal of function words. Function words are prepositions (like in or to), conjunctions (like for or but), articles (like a or the), and other words that don’t impact the intent of a search. For example, [shoes for men] is a close variant of [men shoes] with the function word “for” removed.

When you use exact match, you might not receive as many impressions or clicks, but you'll probably see a higher clickthrough rate (CTR). That's because your ads can appear to people who are searching for terms that are almost exactly related to your product or service.


Exact match keyword Ads may show on searches for Ads won't show on searches for
[shoes for men]

shoes men
men shoes
men shoe
shoes for a man

red shoes for men
buy men shoes


We'll use your exact keywordand not close variantsto determine your Quality Score and first page bid estimate.

How exact match can help you

You can use exact match to limit who sees your ad to only those who search for your exact keywords or close variants of your exact keywords. These are the people who are likely most interested in what you offer.

When other options might be more helpful

  • Building and maintaining a list of exact match keywords, including choosing maximum bids for each keyword, requires a time commitment that's difficult for those with busy schedules.
  • With exact match, you probably won't receive as many impressions, clicks, or conversions as you would with other matching options. However, the traffic you do receive could be more interested in your product or service.

Get help building your keyword list

To make sure you include as many exact matches as you can, there are a couple of things you can do:

  • Run a search terms report to see a list of search terms that people have used before seeing your ad and clicking it.
  • Use the Keyword Planner to find all the relevant variations of words you might not have thought to add to your keyword list. 

Then, you can add to your keyword list the words and phrases you find that match your business, and use those terms in your new ads.


  • We suggest using a combination of two or more keyword match types to run an effective ad campaign. If you use broad and exact match, for example, you'll reach a broader audience while also precisely targeting who can see your ad.
  • If you want to make sure that your ads don't show for a certain search term, add that term to your ad group or campaign as a negative keyword.
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