Google is Making AdWords Smarter with Exact Match Keywords


The days of having to enter loads of exact match keywords are soon coming to an end. Over the next few months, Google will effect a series of changes to the way AdWords processes keywords.

What happens now is if you sell children’s clothes, you’ll likely include “children’s clothes” in your list of keywords. For a potential customer to find you, they would have to type “children’s clothes”. If you want to ensure more people find you, you’ll add different variations such as “clothes for children”, “kids’ clothes”, and so on. Of course, this can get tiring and on many occasions, you may be unable to target all the possible keywords.

Because Google understands that this can be a difficult matter for advertisers, they’ve decided to expand close variant matching to help advertisers reach more of their customers. These are the changes they’re making:

Ignoring function words

Google is going to start ignoring function words as long as they don’t change the meaning of the keyword. Function words are prepositions such as “to”, conjunctions such as “but”, articles such as “an”, and other words that don’t alter the intention behind the user’s search. For example, the “in” in “restaurants in Vancouver” can be ignored because it doesn’t change the meaning. However, the “from” in “flights from Vancouver” doesn’t have the same meaning as “flights to Vancouver”.

Words can appear in any order

An exact match keyword will be matched with different queries even if the words are reordered. The only condition is the meaning must remain the same and retain the intent behind the user’s search. Using the same examples above, “restaurants Vancouver” is the same as “Vancouver restaurants”. However, “Vancouver to Toronto” is certainly not the same as “Toronto to Vancouver”.

These changes are to be effected over the next few months starting with English and Spanish, with other languages following through the rest of the year. Google expects to see up to 3% more exact match clicks.

What do advertisers think?

On day 2 of Search Marketing Expo (SMX) West, Mindstream Media’s Stephanie Cheek shared her thoughts on Google’s AdWords update. She explained that advertisers would have to retrain themselves to use and think of exact match keywords differently. Mindstream Media’s report from the panel discussion states that many advertisers were uncomfortable with giving up the level of control they have with exact match.

Scotty D on Google’s advertiser community believes the update is certainly a step in the right direction. He points out that 20% of searches in the US are now by voice, making it harder to pinpoint all query variations that may capture a user’s intent.

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