Google to Change Exact Match Keywords Once Again

Expanding on their definition of exact match “close variants” in Google Ads( formerly AdWords), a recent update by Google announced that close variants will soon ignore word order and function words (in, to, for, but, a, the, etc.) and other words that wouldn’t change the intent behind a search query.

For the unfamiliar, the close variants update expanded which queries would match to the exact match keywords in your account. This meant that misspellings, plural forms, singular forms, acronyms and more would now cause your ad to serve, when previously they would not. This meant less control at a keyword level for advertisers, but a better search experience for potential customers.

This, another change that reduces search marketer’s ability to control how they serve ads, has been met with some mixed reviews over social media, but ultimately shouldn’t drastically affect how our ads are being served and how we run our accounts.

While Google is incentivized to serve more ads, they’re also incentivized to make sure Ads advertisers can still intelligently manage accounts and to make sure searchers still get the most helpful results on the SERP.

Below you can see Google’s example of how different queries will be matched:

As you can see, in the vast majority of searches in which function words are changed, added or removed, the searcher’s intent is identical. Interestingly, in the last example above you can also see that when the function word has changed, Google has matched to a search with the words in a different order (while the intent remains the same).

Google is adamant that per their machine learning algorithm, searches in which the words are reordered or in which function words have been removed, added or changed, ads will not serve unless the meaning behind the search would have been the same.

As mentioned before, this shouldn’t drastically change the way you’re running your account, but it will vary by vertical. If there are slight variations in your keyword list that if matched to, will bring in bad leads/clicks, be sure to add them in as exact negatives before the change starts to roll out.

How Should You Prepare?

In the coming months start to take a closer look at your search terms report and identify potential query variations that you would never want to match to and add these as negatives. This kind of preventative work should make sure that the transition goes smoothly without spending much on bad clicks.

For advertisers with accounts already filled with hundreds of exact match variations, worry not, as Google has stated that Ads will still prefer to match to keyword variations in the account over search queries. For example if you have [cowboy blue hat], and [blue cowboy hat] in your account, those will each take precedence over this new matching method.

For CallRail customers, this might mean seeing more calls come in from exact match keywords in your account, as opposed to the phrase or broad match variants. Other than that, it should be business as usual. If you do start to see a larger number of calls come in, make sure to utilize CallScore to quickly determine if a call is a good lead and use that data to inform your decisions in Ads (if a higher volume of bad calls are coming in you’re likely matching to a bad keyword variation that you weren’t serving for previously).

As always if you have any questions, feel free to comment below or reach out to our support team. If you’re not a current customer, feel free to request a no-obligation demo of CallRail, or go ahead and start your 14-day free trial today.