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Google Ads Expands Keyword Variant Matching, Again

My Post - 2019-09-12T101854.166.pngOver the past couple of years Google Ads has expanded the use of close keyword variants.

I wrote about the initial change in April 2017, in “AdWords: Exact Match Not So Exact Anymore,” when Google altered the match type to include not just misspellings and plurals, but also function words, rewording, and reordering.

Then, last December, I wrote “Google Ads: ‘Exact Match’ Keeps Getting Less Exact,” which described how Google expanded even further to include implied words, paraphrasing, and words with the same intent. Again, this was limited to the exact match keyword type.

Now, Google has again expanded the use of close variants.

Phrase Match and Broad Match Modifier

Here’s the official Google Ads announcement on July 31, 2019:

In the coming weeks broad match modifier and phrase match keywords will also begin matching to words within the search query that share the same meaning as the keyword.

Each of these match types is different. I’ll look at each one.

Phrase match. The purpose of the phrase match keyword type was to ensure that the desired keywords remained in the order specified. Other words and phrases could precede or follow, but that phrase needed to be present to trigger an ad impression. Now Google can swap out the words for close variants. Here’s an example supplied by Google.

The example above isn’t the best. The matched queries from the “before” column both include purchase intent words “prices” and “rates.” However, the “after” column queries don’t include them. Companies that provide lawn-mowing services are likely much more interested in the queries that include pricing, as it indicates the searchers are further into the decision process.

Broad match modifier. The purpose of the broad match modifier (adding a “+” sign before a word) was to indicate to Google that you wanted that specific word to appear in a query if your ad was going to show. But now, with the new change, Google can pick a close variant. Google’s example is below. – Read more