Google continues to water down the “exact match” targeting option in Google Ads. While previously the Exact Match option meant exactly that, Google has been rolling out more and more changes to further dilute it. Previously, plurals were included in the exact match despite not being the specific text being targeted. The Google Inside Adwords blog released a new post, expanding on what is included in what they are now terming “close variants”. What does this mean for your campaigns, especially single keyword per adgroup builds that rely on match type specificity?

What do the changes in Google AdWords mean for your SEM strategy?

What do the changes in Google Ads mean for your SEM strategy?

Changes to Google Ads

Expanding on previous changes, Google AdWords (now called Google Ads) will now include close variants of terms being targeted as exact match. According to Google, Close variants helps you connect with people who are looking for your business, despite slight variations in the way they search. These changes will be implemented over the next few months, and Google claims that early tests result in 3% more clicks while maintaining click through and conversion rates.

Google explains that the need for close variants to be included in the exact match targeting option is that different keywords or orders of words can share the same meaning. For example, someone searching for “Digital Marketing Krakow” or “Krakow Digital Marketing” are looking for the same thing. With the new close variants update, both will show your ads if either is typed in as an exact match. The Google search algorithm purportedly protects against reorders that do not share a meaning. For example, searching “KRK to WAW” is not the same as “WAW to KRK” and the new algorithm promises to not include such reorders in exact match targeting.

A successful AdWords and Bing SEM strategy requires constant vigilance

Google and Bing Ads SEM is a daily battle

Daily Google and Bing Ads Search Engine Marketing

Google is continuously optimizing its Ads service to best serve the needs of their clients, and a successful SEM strategy requires constant vigilance. Google’s previous addition of plurals to exact match in 2012 was met with anger from SEM experts, as was their 2014 elimination of the opt-out. Further diluting the specificity of exact match will undoubtedly be met with a similar response.

To prepare for the coming changes, there are a few things you can do to make the transition as smooth as possible. First, you want to review all of your current exact match keywords and determine if reordering any of them would change the meaning or not be something you wish to target. If that’s the case, you will want to add the variations you do not approve of to your negative keyword list. Augment this by reviewing the Search Query Reports to see if any other variations that are currently being triggered might not also have variations that you do not wish to bid on.

How To Get Around Dilution Limitations

If you’re here, chances are that increasingly broad definitions of what an exact match are something you are looking to avoid. Luckily, negative keyword match types remain specific, and are not affected by these new changes.

Negative keywords won’t match to close variants or other expansions. For example, if you exclude the negative broad match keyword flowers, ads won’t be eligible to serve when a user searches red flowers, but can serve if a user searches for red flower. – Google Ads Help

How does this help? To get full control, you will need to have your campaigns/ad groups split into different match types. Let’s say we have three keywords:

  • [Husaria Marketing] as an exact match
  • “Husaria Marketing” as a phrase match
  • +Husaria +Marketing as a broad (BMM) match.

By adding [Husaria Marketing] as a negative match to the phrase and broad ad groups, as well as “Husaria Marketing” to the broad ad group, we’re able to put Google’s previous match limits back into practice.

Looking for a Search Engine Marketing Agency?

The Search Query Reports are your friend, and should be diligently monitored as it’s your way of reviewing what keywords and phrases you are paying for. Husaria Marketing offers Search Engine Marketing services as part of our comprehensive digital marketing portfolio, and we can tailor an offer specific to your company’s needs and budget. In fact, our typical single keyword per adgroup (SKAG) campaign builds for clients are further enhanced with individual match type targeting and negative matching.


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