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 click-through rate (CTR).

How exact match works

With exact match, your ads will appear when someone searches for your exact keyword, without any additional words before, after, or in the middle of your keyword. We'll also show your ad when someone searches for close variants of your keyword. Close variants include misspellings, singular and plural forms, acronyms, stemmings (such as floor and flooring), abbreviations, and accents.

When you use exact match, you might not receive as many impressions or clicks, but you'll probably see a higher click-through 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
[tennis shoes] tennis shoes
tennis shoes
red tennis shoes
buy tennis shoes


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

How exact match can help you

  • Limit who sees your ad: 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 most likely to be interested in what you offer.
  • Have your ad text appear in bold: Whenever your exact keyword matches someone's search term, your keyword will appear in bold. Your keyword in bold can help attract someone's attention when your ad appears. You can't manually add bold text or other formatting to your ad text, so exact match is a good matching option to make your ad more noticeable.

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 that you do receive could be more interested in your product or service.

Get help building your keyword list

To make sure that 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 that you might not have thought to add to your keyword list. You'll find the tool by clicking the Tools tab in your account.

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.
How to narrow your exact match and phrase match targeting

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

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

Keep 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. Keep 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. Keep 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.