Exact Match

What is the Exact Match?

Exact Match (EM) – The most specific of the keyword match types and triggers your ad when users type your keyword exactly as is and in the same order.

In SEO, exact-match keywords also refer to search results/content that perfectly match all the keywords in the search query, exactly as entered. Historically, EM keywords are important for both organic and paid search and are a frequent topic of SEO debates.

EM keywords originated from the Google AdWords keyword match type that allows you to advertise on a specific EM search.

What are the partial-match keywords?

Partial-match keywords or phrases are often mentioned in the same breath as EM. They simply refer to search results that match some part of the keywords in the search query, but not all of it (or in a different order).

What’s the difference between EM and partial match keywords?

An exact match keyword indicates that your target keyword exactly matches a search query, anchor text in a link, or domain name. A partial match means that your keyword is included amongst other words in those elements. Exact and partial match keywords are often used in SEO, link building, and PPC, and while one type is not better or worse than the other, generally speaking, you’ll want to make sure you use the right match type to avoid Google penalties and astronomical AdWords costs.


Exact match keywords in Google AdWords

The phrase “exact match” is commonly used when targeting your ad to types of searches with Google AdWords. EM in AdWords means that you only want your ad to show up for a specific word or phrase. (Importantly, AdWords has recently updated how they treat keywords so that word order and “functional words” within a sentence—i.e. “and,” “or,” “but,” “then,” etc. — don’t matter. The same keywords in the different sequences, with or without functional words, may still represent an “exact match.”)

Other types of Google AdWords match types are broad match, which means your ad might show up for similar terms that Google considers relevant, and phrase match, which means it may show up for searches with your target keyword nestled inside a longer phrase.

A common mistake for beginners is not targeting the right match type. If you’ve chosen the wrong match type, your ad may be displayed to the wrong audience. When this happens, you could end up paying through the nose for traffic that won’t convert.


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