A Guide to Exact Match in Google AdWords

This blog is dedicated to Exact Match in Google AdWords. But, to brush up on the basics of match types, we will start off with a brief revision.

From our blog on match types in Google AdWords, we understand that AdWords triggers an ad only when a user search query matches a keyword defined by an advertiser. We also discussed how a search query and a keyword need not always be twins This means that AdWords shows ads for a misspelled keyword, a synonym or a related search of the keyword. However, advertisers can control this relationship between a search query and a keyword with the help of match types.

AdWords offers 4 different match types. They are as follows:

  1. Exact Match
  2. Phrase Match
  3. Broad Match Modifier
  4. Broad Match

E.g.: If a user searches for shoes, AdWords may trigger ads that have shoes, black shoes, ski boots, ballerinas etc as keywords. AdWords may even return the websites of Nike, Adidas etc as results to the search query shoes.

In this blog we will discuss:

  • What is an Exact Match in Google AdWords?
  • What updates did Google bring to Exact Match in 2017?
  • Why is it important to include Exact Match Keywords?

What is an Exact Match in Google AdWords?

“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).” –

“Exact match enables an advertiser to target audience very specifically. It refrains from triggering an ad when a search query isn’t literally the same as the keyword defined by an advertiser.” – AdNabu

From the two definitions, an exact match is targeted at showing ads to specifically those users who search for your keyword. To use exact match on a keyword, wrap the keyword in square brackets like [shoes].

What updates did Google bring to Exact Match in 2017?

Before this update, Exact Match triggered ads only when the search query was a carbon copy of the keywords. This made it easier for advertisers to control their ads. This also meant that advertisers had to have a bulky list of keywords that included all possible close variants.

E.g.: If your keyword was [shoes], AdWords wouldn’t trigger ads for a shoe lace, black shoes, shoe for skiing or shoe. Your ads would be shown for a query that said shoes alone.

Google’s 2017 update has extended the scope of an exact match. Exact match now considers close variants of a keyword. Close variants include singular forms, plural forms, acronyms, misspellings, stemming, abbreviations, accents and semantically similar phrases also. Google defines semantically similar phrases as those that essentially mean the same even are rearranged.

E.g.: If your keyword is [shoes in blue for dancing], it means the same as blue dancing shoes or blue shoes for dancing.

Google didn’t consider shoe the same as shoes before this update. Even a misspelling like sheos was ignored. Now after the update, these small variations are understood and considered by Google.

This update also brought down the significance of words that don’t have a direct impact on the intent of a keyword like function words, prepositions or postpositions, conjunctions, and articles.

Now, with the extended reach and flexibility, advertisers no longer need to have a thesaurus for keywords in their campaigns. Even the click count of exact match keywords is reported to be scaling up.

Why is it important to include Exact Match Keywords?

Exact match keywords hold your campaigns together. They help strike a balance between reach and productivity of your campaigns. As broad and phrase match keywords bring in a lot of irrelevant traffic, using exact match is a must to make the clicks count.

E.g.: Let’s select a keyword Ballerina Shoes. And we use broad match and phrase match for this keyword. Now we will make a table of queries that can trigger the ad for this keyword and their relevance.

Query Broad Match Phrase Match Relevance
Shoes Yes No Low
Ballerinas Yes No Medium
Sports Shoes Yes No Low
Men Ballerina Shoes Yes Yes High
Discount on Ballerina Shoes Yes Yes Medium
Dance Shoes for Kids Yes No Low
Ballerina Shoes in Kazakhstan Yes Yes Low
Size 12 Ballerina Shoes Yes Yes Medium

From the above table, we observe that broad match triggers ads for any search query that is remotely related to the keyword. Most of them are of a low relevance. Phrase match, on the other hand, is a bit better, but again the relevance is not just enough to drive conversions. Users looking for discounts on ballerina shoes might not be the right targets if you aren’t offering a discount.Similarly, a size 12 ballerina shoe is not something that every store has. And a user looking for the same might just bounce off your website. Hence, including exact match keywords in your campaigns is a must to render the campaigns profitable.

PS: Using exact match type for all keywords isn’t advisable either.

How can AdNabu help you with your AdWords campaigns?

Using AdNabu, you can create campaigns as well as optimize all your existing campaigns. AdNabu measures the performance of your keywords under all the match types automatically. You will the progress overview of all your campaigns on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. AdNabu also suggests you pause or unpause keywords according to their performance. From helping you choose the right keywords to bid adjustments and everything in between, AdNabu does it all.

Start your free trial of AdNabu today!

About the author

Mantha Sai Praveen

Content marketer by day, a poet by night.