Google recently announced a change for exact match close variants. Close variants used to mean your ad could show for misspellings, singular and plural forms, acronyms, abbreviations, stemmings and accents of the exact match keyword in your ad group. Moving forward, close variants will also include rewording and reordering of the exact match keyword.

What is the reasoning behind the change?

Google stated the change is to further eliminate the need to build out exhaustive keyword lists to ensure you reach customers searching on varied searches. Though if your account is built out to include broad match modified keywords, ideally your ads would be triggering for these keyword queries already. With this update, Google expects advertisers to experience up to a 3% increase in clicks from their exact match terms.

What does the change mean?

Exact match as we know it no longer exists. The days of only appearing for the term bid on are over, as exact match is no longer just syntactic, but is also now semantic. Ultimately, if the intent of the query matches the keyword, the ad will be triggered.

The two main updates include word order and including or removing function words.

Word Order: If two keywords have the same meaning in reverse order, this will now trigger the keyword.

  • Example: [Running Shoes] can now match the query [Shoes Running]

Function Words: Prepositions, conjunctions, and articles can now be added, changed or removed from the keyword if it does not impact the intent behind the query.

  • Examples:
    • Function word added: [Dress Shoes Women] can now match the query [Dress Shoes for Women]
    • Function word removed: [Parks in Minneapolis] can now match the query [Parks Minneapolis]
    • Function word changed: [News for Today] can now match [News from Today]

How to Optimize for the Change

  1. Closely monitor your Search Query Reports for close variants.
  2. Review your exact match terms to determine if any rewording or changing of the function words will impact the intent or relevancy to the users. If so, add those as negatives.
  3. Review your ad groups to ensure keywords are closely related to maintain further control over negative keywords. If keywords are not closely related within an ad group, consider splitting them out into smaller closely related ad groups.
  4. If you’re running separate Broad Match Modified ad groups or campaigns within your account, review your current negative keyword lists in the Broad Match Modified ad groups or campaigns. You may have already caught certain irrelevant close variants and added them as negatives in your Broad Match Modified ad groups or campaigns that you would now want to apply to your Exact Match ad groups or campaigns, too.

As you know, this change will begin rolling out and affect your AdWords account soon. Ensure you are prepared by utilizing the tips above to maintain relevancy to your users and continue with consistent performance.

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