Changes to Google Ad’s Exact Match

Google Ads Exact Match Update
21 Sep 2018
Henrike Overbeck

Google has announced a new update to Google Ads in which they are changing the meaning of exact match keywords and their close variants. Whilst the match type already matches keywords to close variants, this change will begin to include variations that share the same meaning, implied words and paraphrases instead of only the specific words. Google will use machine-based learning to match your current exact match keywords to additional search queries.

How these changes apply to the example keyword ‘yosemite camping’ can be seen below:

exact match keywords

In recent years, we have seen Google move more towards the utilisation of machine learning, and this update is shifting the focus away from creating very large keyword lists at the start of a new campaign. There might however be keywords that you would not like to appear for and it will still be possible to exclude variants that do not drive the desired results by adding more negative keywords.

In addition to excluding variants with poorer performance or not matching search intent, this latest update also makes it crucial to monitor possible duplicate queries to ensure that at any time your best-matching ad for the search query is shown. To do so, it is necessary to examine traffic shifting between ad groups.

As the outlined changes will apply for exact match keywords only, the update further raises the question to consider the use of phrase match again. Particularly for search queries consisting out of more than two words and ones that are sensitive regarding their word order, phrase match can now prove more restrictive than the new exact match.

Despite the assumed extensive impact of this update, the actual effects – whether positive or negative – depend on multiple factors such as the industry your business operates in and the current structure of your account. Another yet unknown factor will be how restrictive Google defines the “same intent” of search queries. With the update rolling out gradually for English keywords in October and more languages to follow, it will take time to see the actual impact of this update.

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