What’s Exactly Going on with the AdWords Exact Match Update?

Kaylas Adwords Post
Kayla Hammersmith
April 10, 2017

Paul Hollywood expects the Great British Bake Off contestants to follow the technical challenge instructions *exactly*. (Especially for Bread Week.) He probably wouldn’t put up with the latest update to AdWords exact match. Spoiler alert: Exact match is less exact than it used to be.


What happened?

On March 17th, 2017, Google announced that it’s expanding the close variants for exact match. Check out Google’s official release here.

This isn’t the first exact match update. In 2012, Google first introduced close variants to exact match keywords. Close variants first included typos, plurals, adverbs, and the like.

This feature is intended to help save advertisers time. After all, building out extensive keyword lists is hard enough—worrying about adding plurals to every keyword phrase is a hassle.

Until 2014, Google did allow advertisers to opt out of close variants. After that update, including close variants in your search campaigns wasn’t a choice anymore.

The March 2017 update is the latest exact match news. For more information, check out Search Engine Land’s coverage.


What’s the update all about?

In addition to plurals, typos, abbreviations, and adverbs, Google AdWords is expanding its close variant portfolio.

The update covers two main areas: function words and word order.

Function words (in, from, to, for, but, a, the) are now included in close variants. They will be ignored if they don’t alter the intention of the search.

Even though the close variants are expanded, the search “rental cars from Santa Barbara” won’t be included as a close variant for the keyword phrase “rental cars to Santa Barbara.”


AdWords Exact Match Update

 Image from the AdWords blog


Order isn’t a big deal anymore. ‘Nuff said.


AdWords Exact Match Update

  Image from the AdWords blog


How does the exact match update affect your business?

According to the AdWords blog, you might “see up to 3% more exact match clicks on average while maintaining comparable clickthrough and conversion rates.”

It’s still early, so TBD on if this proves true.

Whenever there’s an AdWords update, it’s always important to keep an even closer eye on your accounts. Look out for shifts in impressions, clicks, and CTR for your exact match keywords.

Check up on your search term reports. This is super important. Make sure that the close variant update isn’t bringing you unqualified queries. If you do see irrelevant queries, add them as negative keywords.


This update demonstrates how Google is seriously taking voice search and natural language searches into account.

Are you a fan of the exact match update? Any questions on how this could impact your search campaigns? Tweet us @Perfect_Search

Kayla Hammersmith
Strategic Content Advisor

Kayla Hammersmith is a huge fan of Nancy Drew computer games and swears that she can do a very specific impression of Pal, the dog from Arthur. You might often find her snacking on goat cheese as she dreams of one day becoming a cellist savant.

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