Updated Adwords Exact Match What Does It Mean For Local Businesses?

One change to Google’s search algorithm can change everything for AdWords advertisers.

On March 17th, Google announced that they were going to change the format of exact match types.

Previously, exact match meant exactly that. If you were bidding on the exact keyword [Los Angeles hotels], your ad would only show if someone typed in that keyword.

Nothing more, nothing less, and in that order. Now, Google has switch the rules to include “close variants.” If you are bidding on [Los Angeles hotels], your ad could now show for “hotels in Los Angeles.” Google is now assuming that these two are essentially the same search with the same intent.

So how does this affect us as advertisers?

Spreading a Wider Net: Wrong Search Meaning

Google’s main goal with this change is to cast a wider net for exact match keywords. This leads to the potential of your ad showing more often, even if it is not as closely of a related search.

One of the biggest concerns advertisers have is that this change will impact search meaning. For example, if you are bidding on the exact keyword [car repair], Google could ideally show your ad for the search “repair a car.”

The two users could have totally different intents. Google has said that their algorithm is accounting for this, and that they would not show on close variant keywords when it would alter the query meaning. But still, you can never be too sure. This could lead to wasted spend and fewer conversions.

Less Control

In addition to casting a wider net, this also means we have less control over when our ads show. We can no longer be positive that our ad is showing ONLY for that exact search.

Google now has a role in deciding whether or not your ad will display. Advertisers who have their accounts segmented out by match type will need to keep a close eye on this change.

This could cause some phrase match and exact match keyword overlap. This gives us less control over the search traffic and which keyword will trigger the ad. Because this could blur the lines between ad groups, it is important to monitor your search queries and negative keywords to make sure the overlap does not occur.

Data Confusion

This leads to the second problem advertisers will have to lookout for: data confusion. Because the exact keywords will now include close variants, we will see more data added to the keywords. This could lead to an increase in impressions and clicks which could impact click through rate. Since CTR plays such a large role in ad position, it could change where your ad shows, and how much you are paying per click.

In conclusion, if you have your accounts structured by match type, make sure your negative keywords still align. In addition, frequently look at your search queries over the next few weeks to monitor and compare close variants v. exact keyword searches. If it makes sense, create a new keyword based on the variant so you can try to keep the data separated.

Overall, this change does not look like it has impacted accounts too drastically. If you adjust correctly, I think this will actually be a benefit due to the larger exposure to users with the same search intent.

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