Exact keywords were just that – keywords that would only show when there was an exact match between the users search query and the advertisers keyword.
Google’s Recent Changes To Match Types
Then in 2012 Google introduced ‘close variants’ which allowed plural versions, misspellings and abbreviations of an exact match keyword to still trigger an ad, and now just recently in 2017 Google has released another change.
Close variants are expanding more broadly to now include ‘additional rewording and reordering for exact match keywords’. An exact match keyword such as [kids formal clothes] could now be triggered by the reordered search query ‘formal kids clothes’. Google will both reword and ignore function words, what they defines as words which are ‘…are prepositions (in, to), conjunctions (for, but), articles (a, the) and other words that often don’t impact the intent behind a query.’ Thus the exact match keyword [sydney to fiji cruise] could be triggered by the search query ‘fiji cruise from sydney’, hence exact is not exactly exact.
Google’s research indicates that this change has increased clicks on exact match keywords by 3%, while still maintaining a comparable CTR and conversion rate.
What does this mean for you?
As an advertiser on Google Adwords you are going to need to spend more time diligently monitoring your search term reports to determine if any your ads are displaying for any keywords which are not relevant to your success. Now is probably a very good time to start reviewing the current close variants in your search term report and determine if any variations should be added as negative keywords.
Adwords is not something you can set and forget, regular monitoring and account optimisation is going to be the key for your success.
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