Exact Match Google Ads arent Exact anymore

Google’s exact match keyword targeting used to mean one thing: the keyword had to match exactly whatever query the searcher used. If you were targetting [cheap hoovers] then your ad wouldn’t show for anything that wasn’t the exact words [cheap hoovers] in that order, with no words before or after.

Then close variants came into the mix, and that definition has steadily morphed over the past few years. First, Google introduced the inclusion of plurals, misspellings and other similar variants  in 2014. In 2017, different word orders came into play. If you have been running Ads for a while, check your search query reports from the start of the year and you will no doubt see exact match keywords for non exact search terms.

In October, Google released the third phase of its updates to Google Ads Exact Match.

This change impacts what Google considered close variants of an exact match keyword, to include variations that share the same meaning as the keyword, including implied words and paraphrases. The exact words are no longer the sole trigger for your ads to show on exact match keywords. Google is using machine learning to understand that multiple words can have the same intent. Below is a great example.

Previously these keywords would be split into 3 ad groups.

Restaurant EPOS software

Restaurant EPOS Solution

Restaurant EPOS System

Anyone in the restaurant EPOS industry knows that all 3 of the above lead to the same product. Different searchers/potential customers will term it different ways. Ultimately, they all want the same thing. This is what the latest exact match update aims to address, with only on the 3 now being necessary to trigger the other two because of user intent.

Google offers the example of the exact match keyword [yosemite camping]. With this change, [yosemite camping] will now match to queries such as “yosemite campground” and “campsites in yosemite.”

If Google’s system understands the intent of the query is different than the keyword, it will not match it.

In this case, [yosemite camping] would not match to queries such as “yosemite hotel” or “motels in yosemite,” says Google, because the intent of a searcher looking for hotels and similar lodging is different from that of someone looking for places to camp.

How does this affect me?

If your running paid search ads, or if an agency is running them for you then you should be wary of your search term reports over the next few weeks. Now is a good time to pay close attention to these reports and negative any keywords you deem to not be your target market. Whilst Googles AI is good, it won’t get the implied intent from the searcher correct every time.

Now would also be a good time to review your account. If you’re using Broad Match Modified keywords heavily, you may be able to significantly reduce your accounts size, making it easier to control and optimize by using more exact match keywords based on exact match now being able to target keywords that most likely fall into your current broad match modified ad groups.

If you would like a Google Certified Partner to take a look at your account to recommend the best strategy, then please fill in this form for a free paid search audit.