What Happened To Exact Match

“… over the coming months we’re expanding close variant matching to include additional rewording and reordering for exact match keywords.”

AdWords users will no longer be able to use Exact Match like we were in the past. Instead of letting us target Exact Match Keywords, AdWords has ruled in a new Match Type to replace it: Exact Match – Close Variants.

The PPC Community has expressed outrage in this change and has even gone as far as sending out complaints and petitions to get AdWords to bring back Exact Match. With Exact Match gone, it makes Pay Per Click advertising that much more tricky for Campaigns based on precision.


Why Do We Love & Miss Exact Match?

Exact Match was for those who knew exactly what they wanted out of a Search Term. No funny business, no negative keywords. Using an Exact Match Keyword ensured that your Ads were going to be showing for EXACTLY what you want them to.

It was therefore basically guaranteed that the user seeing your Ad would be more susceptible to click it.

This was also an amazing way to control your budget and have no worry over implementation of negative keywords.

To those of us who know and love Exact Match, this is indeed a HUGE surprise. No longer will we be able to exclude Close Variants from our keyword lists.


The Close Variants Match Type will allow your Ads to trigger for reordering of your keywords.

For example, if you’re using “buy gardening supplies” as one of your Exact Match Keywords, AdWords will now allow your Ads to show for other variants such as:

“gardening buy supplies”

“supplies gardening buy”

So what can I do to save my Exact Match Keywords from irrelevant reordering? 

Take some time to sit and write down your Exact Match Keywords in as many reordered variations as you can think of. If any of them are not what you’re offering, be sure to add them as Phrase Match in your negative keywords list.

AdWords also will allow your Ads to show when a user searches for your keywords with added or removed conjunctions and functions. This will include the addition of words like:

and, but, or, nor, for, so & yet

all, some, could, would, be, might or will

So your Ad will now be eligible to show for the search term “buy supplies for gardening” 

In this case, it wouldn’t be the Advertiser misfortune. But for others it just may.

If your Exact Match Keywords were “buy supplies for gardening”

AdWords will also allow your Ads to show for other search terms that have a different conjunction or function word in place of “for.”

Your Ads are now eligible to show for plurals, adverbs, typos and abbreviations of your keywords.


For some the change may not seem so bad. But for others, we know that it makes precise advertising much more difficult and may end up making Google AdWords more money in the end.

In a March 17th, 2017 blog post, AdWords assured us 5 times that so long as the MEANING of the Search Terms didn’t differ from the meaning of the keywords, then your Ads are eligible to show for them.

  1. “…won’t change the meaning”
  2. “…doesn’t affect the meaning”
  3.  “Same meaning”
  4. “… share the same meaning”
  5. “…won’t be reordered…when it changes the original meaning”

According to AdWords about 7% of Google Searches have a typo in them. That is a very low percentage to change the entire Match Type. In Google’s eyes, it is better to show ads for a wider range of search terms that are likely to be related to what you’re offering than to miss them all together.

In my opinion, that should be up to the advertiser. After all, it is our money that is going into this.

Though I do see their point, why wouldn’t they have just added a new Match Type instead of changing one that has already been working amazingly for us?


So in the end, it is THAT bad?

At the end of the day the changes mean that in order to monitor your own Campaign and be a precise advertiser, it is going to take more work. No more ignoring your search terms. Negative keywords are going to be more important now that Exact Match is no longer Exact Match.

We’re amidst the evolution of AdWords and we will have to adjust and get used to changes like this. What else does AdWords have in store for us this year?


References: Practical Ecommerce, Search Engine Land,Wordstream

Sign Up Today & Never Miss A Blog Post!

You Have Successfully Joined Our Email Blog List!

Share This