On Friday 17 March 2017, Google announced it will be expanding close variant matching for exact match keywords to include additional rewording and reordering. This change will negate the need for exhaustive exact match keyword lists to account for reordering, and will instead increase coverage of queries where the essence of a user’s intent matches that of the keyword.
Close variations for phrase and exact match already include singular and plural forms, misspellings, abbreviations, acronyms, stemming (for example ‘fly’ and ‘flying’), and accents.
The planned change will apply to exact match keywords only and will include the addition, removal or changing of function words and the reordering of words within a keyword.
Function words express the grammatical and structural relationships between words and have little lexical meaning. Function words include conjunctions (and, but), prepositions (in, to) and articles (the, a).
With the changes, function words will be ignored when it won’t change the meaning of the keyword.
Often word order can be changed without changing meaning or intent. Exact match will now match to queries even if the words in the query (what was actually typed by the user) are in a different order to that of the keyword.
When is it happening?
We expect this change to roll out towards the end of April for limited languages, with only a small proportion of traffic being subject to the change initially, and then scaling over time.
The change will make advertising on Google AdWords even more accessible, reducing the need for exhaustive keyword lists to efficiently match to extensive query permutations. It will increase the number of queries against which a keyword has the potential to match. Google cited that in testing advertisers saw an increase of up to 3% more exact match clicks.
We anticipate this change will increase auction depth, with more advertisers in any given auction. The natural expectation therefore is that cost per click (CPC) may rise with the increase in auction depth, although bid technology and automated bid management will minimise this impact. iProspect will monitor this closely across the accounts.
The fidelity of data against which we are able to optimise will also reduce, enabling us to build insights and understand consumer search behaviour. With Exact Match now pairing more broadly, keywords will no longer reflect actual consumer queries and how people are constructing searches, instead only demonstrating the general intent. While it will be an even playing field, this loss of fidelity will begin to dilute the value we extract from keyword level search signals. Query level data will still be available in SQRs (Search Query Reports).
An interesting question when talking about match types is always, ‘what if the query matches to multiple keywords?’
The simple answer is that the keyword and creative pairings that have the highest Ad Rank and are eligible to match against the query will be entered into the auction.