Google AdWords Match Type Changes

Google will soon roll out some changes to its keyword match types exact and phrase match within its AdWords pay per click (PPC) program. What exactly can we expect and what are its impacts?

April Announcement, May Implementation

In mid-April, Google announced a few changes regarding exact match and phrase match keyword matching options in its AdWords program. In a nutshell, Google AdWords matches will start to encompass close variants of the keywords you specify, such as misspellings and plural forms, among others. Google is set to implement these changes by mid-May.

In this regard, exact and phrase match will become somewhat similar to the broad match modifier option, and ironically, this means that phrase and exact match will no longer be so exact by default. Google believes the changes to be for the best as they claim it can help both advertisers and users.

The New Exact and Phrase Match

Currently, exact and phrase match options in AdWords are the two most specific keyword targeting options for PPC managers. Phrase match allows advertisers to specify a keyword phrase to target alongside other keywords while exact match offers matching to only the exact same keyword specified. Used in conjunction with broad match and modified broad match, exact and phrase match types provided specific keyword targeting capability that complemented the more general range of broad keyword match types.

So what happens when the changes are implemented? Exact and phrase match types will go beyond what you specify and will include:

  • Misspellings, so “cemaric tiles” is a close variant of “ceramic tiles”
  • Singular and plural forms, so “dog supply” is a close variant of “dog supplies” and vice versa
  • Stemmings, so “roofing” will be associated with “roof”
  • Acronyms, so “DIY” will be associated with “Do It Yourself”
  • Abbreviations, so “Acad” will become a close variant of “academy”
  • Accents, so “Toupée” will be a close variant of “Toupee”

On one hand, the changes to the keyword match types afford more keyword targeting control for instances of user error (misspellings or typos), which is generally positive. On the other hand, it makes exact match look like a stricter modifier for broad match. When the changes roll out and you are dubious about their impact, you can revert to the old mechanics of the exact and phrase keyword match types by delving into your advanced settings and choosing “Do not include close variants” in the keyword matching options.

Where does This Leave PPC Performance?

This development actually leaves PPC performance at a gray area where these changes to keyword match types will affect varied campaigns differently. At one end of the spectrum an advertiser can reach more users with exact matches that go one letter awry. On the other end, advertisers selling items in quantity ONLY would not be thrilled if PPC campaign costs would double because now exact and phrase matches now included singular variations.

While the introduction of close variant hits to the exact and phrase keyword match types may offer more control, it will depend on the PPC campaign and the business behind it if it is worth using.