We all know that Google is forever changing their capabilities and search algorithms. Google just announced one of their latest changes related to how they will be matching Exact and Phrase matched terms.

Before this, Exact Match keywords meant that your ad would only show for keywords that EXACTLY matched the term you were bidding on. (A search for “kids shoes” would only trigger an ad if you were bidding on “kids shoes”)  Prior, Phrase Match keywords meant that your ad would show up only if the term you were bidding on was part of the PHRASE that was searched. (A search for “pink kids shoes” or “blue kids shoes” would trigger if you were bidding on “kids shoes”.  Your ad would not be triggered if the search was for “kids blue shoes”.)

With this latest update, Exact and Phrase match keywords will now also match in the same manner as before, but also match to different variations:

  • Keyword misspellings
  • Singular/plural forms
  • Stemmings (word endings such as “ing”, “ed”, etc.)
  • Accents
  • Abbreviations

What does this mean for advertisers?

Changes in matching behavior by Google will mean changes in performance for keywords. You’ve been used to how your terms have performed in the past, be prepared to watch closely. Where terms may not have competed before, they may be now. This will lead to changes in click through rates (CTRs) and average cost per click (CPCs). And most likely, increase in cost.

This change will also be reflected in the Search Query reporting. When doing traffic analysis, advertisers have always been able to view traffic stats for terms that are not actually in the accounts, but have matched to terms in the account. From there, you could add them as payable terms or add them as negative terms to avoid unwanted impressions. You will now see “Exact match (close variant)” and “Phrase match (close variants)” in your Search Query reports.

Can I opt-out of Google’s new Exact and Phrase Matching Methods?

Yes you can. And it is recommended, until you are able to develop a full strategy on how you are going to handle the new matching. The change is made at the Campaign level. Simply go to your Campaign settings, under Advanced Settings click on Keyword Matching Options and select “Do not include close variants”.

KAWinteractive | Google Exact & Phrase Matching

Google Campaign Settings for Exact & Phrase Matching Changes


If you have questions regarding this new roll out, or would like us to help you through identifying areas of risk or opportunity within your PPC program, please contact us today – we’re happy to help!