Practicology is now Pattern

By Amanda Butler | Head of Performance

Exact Match keywords are a staple of search accounts, providing security in the knowledge that you are showing the most targeted ad for that particular search query.

What’s changing?

Always keeping us on our toes (and in a job!), Google has announced in its latest AdWords update that exact match will no longer be as exact as it used to be. In an effort to reach more customers through the paid search results, Google is broadening its definition of exact match close variants and will now recognise and may trigger an exact match keyword when a searcher uses a different word order or keyword combination.

Google has said that "early tests show advertisers may see up to 3% more exact match clicks on average while maintaining comparable click through and conversion rates". At first glance this looks like a positive and will cast a wider net to capture even more search opportunity. This is a good thing, right?  Well, yes, but we can’t help feel that this new update is chipping away at the control an advertiser has over their AdWords campaigns. 

How exactly is it changing?

Exact match will now ignore words such as prepositions, conjunctions, and articles (the, in, for, to, a) and match them with similar queries if the meaning or intent doesn’t change. For example [jobs in the united states] can now match [jobs in united states] as the meaning remains the same but the wording is slightly different.

Exact Match Update - image 2 .png

For those keywords that share the same meaning even though the word order is slightly different, like [buy new cars] and [new cars buy], exact match will now use the same logic to match these queries with reordered variations of the keywords.

Exact Match Update - image 1 .png

How will this affect your campaigns?

If your exact match queries depend on word order, there is a potential to see a dip in quality score due to decreased search context and ad relevancy. For example, if you’re running the keyword combination [mountain trail bike] in exact match and your ad is selling a ‘mountain trail bike’, Google could also trigger ads for keywords like [mountain bike trail], which is irrelevant to the campaign. 

What can you do?

Mine your search term reports - Diligence will be required when reviewing search query reports to ensure that the keyword list is tight. As the keyword criteria broadens, keep an eye on the impact that this has on ad relevancy.

Review existing exact match queries - Determine if the changes to function words or the reordering of words changes the meaning of your exact match keywords.  If any derivatives could be detrimental, look at adding those variations as negative keywords in your campaign.

What impact does this have on Organic and Paid search results?

Organic search has long been focused on delivering information based on ‘contextual relevancy’ and evolving RankBrain to understand search intent. With this Google philosophy now saturating both the Paid and Organic spaces, it goes to solidify Google’s continued efforts to move toward delivering results based on intent and not just keywords.

Information sharing between the two mediums is now as important as ever and a holistic view of search should be taken.  Ensure it doesn’t become ‘who gets the most wins’ but instead ensure that you’re maximising all touch-points through the customer journey. 

Final Thoughts

As clever as Google’s claiming the update is, language is a complex beast. Exact match won’t get it right all of the time so it’s up to us to make sure we keep a close eye on how this update will affect our ad campaigns and how we continue to effectively connect with searchers.

If you have any questions or concerns in regards to how your Paid Search is performing, please don't hesitate to get in touch with us today.


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