by Louise


Internet Marketing

AdWords Update: Changes to Exact Match Keywords

The evolution of exact and phrase match keywords

Back in April 2012, Google gave advertisers the option to include plurals, misspellings, and close variants, for exact and phrase match keywords. This was fantastic news for many advertisers, saving a massive amount of time and effort that was previously spent creating extensive lists of brand misspellings and plural forms of all relevant keywords.

As a result, most advertisers saw increased performance; receiving an average of 7% more exact and phrase match clicks with similar click-through and conversion rates.

Because of this success, in September 2014 Google took the plunge to apply close variant keyword matching to all exact and phrase match keywords.

So, what’s new for 2017?

Last month, Google announced a further expansion for close variant matching to include additional re-wording and re-ordering for exact match keywords.

Changes to look out for

1. Impact on function words

Function words could be added, removed or changed in keywords within an advertiser’s account, so long as this doesn’t impact the intent behind the query. For example, the following queries could match for the exact match keywords below:

2. Changes to keyword order

Exact match keywords could also be re-ordered. The explanation for this is that two keywords can often share the same meaning, even if the word order is slightly different – see a few examples below:

Our verdict

Here at ConversionWorks, we’re embracing the change to allow the brands we work with to appear for additional relevant searches, whilst keeping a very close eye on the search terms report to avoid ads appearing for any irrelevant queries.

Once the change is live across all accounts, it will eliminate the need for extensive exact match keyword lists and will instead increase coverage for advertisers, where the nature of the query matches that of the keyword.

Understandably, there may be some advertisers that would prefer to opt-out of the new changes. Unfortunately, there won’t be an option to simply switch back (at least not for now), however, there is a script that can be used that runs search term reports and adds close variant terms as exact match negatives if they are not the exact original keyword. A good example that has been put together by the team at Brainlabs can be found here:

We would, however, recommend monitoring the search queries that your keywords have matched to, to highlight potential keyword opportunities that could be added to the account.

For more details on the changes, check out the full announcement on the Inside AdWords blog:


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