Google Exact Match Not So Exact Anymore? | 180fusion

New Exact Match update on Google AdWords March 17 2017

Remember the time when precision keywords meant everything? Then organic search and AdWords came a long way—search and matching started to account for things like plurals, typos, then even phrase variations. Now, Google is about to take another substantial step in improving match targeting in AdWords, which might help advertisements achieve “up to 3 percent more exact match clicks on average” according to their reports from early tests.  This is sure to make a change across PPC Management for  anyone on the AdWords platform should take notice.  It seems like Google exact match is phasing a bit from it’s big value proposition to marketers.

Timeline on Google Exact Match Changes

Google announced this change on Friday afternoon, March 17th. According to their statement, this update will allow AdWords to broaden its ability to match for close variants, including better support for things like abbreviations, misspellings, adverbs, plurals, word order, and more. All of which they will incorporate in the coming months.

Google Exact match Updates on close variants march 17 2017

This change comes after several years of improvement and alterations to Google’s AdWords, moving closer and closer towards smarter “exact” matching and better machine learning. Since the introduction of variants in 2012, the start of catching things like typos, to the enforcement of close variants for exact match implemented in 2014, this new update works to expand the meaning of “exact match” even further. While it also reveals the company’s cementing decision to put even more faith into their machine learning algorithms, specifically, Google has detailed a major change in the way both function words and word order are going to be treated by AdWords.


Function Words

Given Google’s plan to blur “exact search” even more, function words should be changed in a significant way, such as being ignored, removed, or added with this incoming change. Function words are words that don’t have any meaning on their own but work as binding words in phrases, such as conjunctions, pronouns, prepositions and such. Ignoring words like “in, and, the” and so one could significantly change triggers for ads. For example, an exact match for “parks in San Diego” removes the function word “in” to match with the “parks San Diego.”

Google Function Words for exact match update

Word Order

Word order hasn’t made much of a difference in English search for awhile, and people usually don’t search in a “natural” order like they would speak, either. With these changes, AdWords will likewise become more liberal in this manner and reorder words into a manner that it reads best. For example, a search for “men’s running shoes” will be reordered to match for the query “running shoes men’s.” Google has mentioned that when AdWords reorders a search for an exact match, it will not add any other keywords to the query.

google exact match update word order example


In order to answer many advertisers’ shared worry, Google has stated that there are exceptions to these new rules which dissuade these algorithms from matching specific queries to keywords that don’t share the same meaning. The English language is tricky, especially when it comes to marketing, and Google is putting faith in its algorithms, stating that these changes will not affect word order or function words in an exact match when it understands that changing one or another will alter the overall meaning of the query.

For example, take the search “LAX to JFK flight.” The word order is imperative to the meaning of this statement, so a user wouldn’t want to see an ad for a flight from JFK to LAX which might confuse them. According to Google, these new changes take these types of scenarios into consideration and will not apply to phrase match keywords.


Takeway from These Upcoming Changes

Like most aspects of search, Google is always working towards spreading their net wider while fine tuning the filtering. While these updates should be helpful in bringing advertisements to more people and making AdWords more efficient and profitable, many argue that Google continues to remove some control from advertisers themselves.

180fusion recommends leveraging tightening up keyword selection, leveraging campaigns like RLSA and  and refining the search terms report to comb through daily activity and negative out irrelevant search phrases to expand your negative keyword list.

With AdWords now limiting advertisers only able to choose what types of searches they don’t want their ad to show for, rather than those they do, these changes put even more dependence and reliance on machine learning while making all our jobs a little easier.

If you are looking for assistance with this new Google Exact Match Update or tightening up your PPC campaign or SEO strategy feel free to contact our team of digital experts for an analysis today.

Request a Consultation