Find Out If You’re Impacted by Google’s Changes to Exact Match

Exact match hasn’t meant ‘exact’ for fairly a while however final week Google introduced that they’re additional increasing the broadening of tangible match key phrases.

Exact match key phrases could now additionally begin triggering adverts for searches that match the intent of the key phrase.

‘Intent’ can cowl a reasonably vast set of searches with completely different levels of overlap, so advertisers want to pay nearer consideration than ever to what this variation does to their accounts.

And as you already know, I’m all about automation.

The evaluation I’ll describe is trivial to do via a sturdy PPC administration device. Read on for a free Google Ads script that you should utilize to do the evaluation rapidly in a single account or a whole bunch.

A Positive Impact (On Average)

While Google offers the same old reassurance that the everyday account will see advantages from this variation, everyone knows that no account is common.

So we want to guarantee that the influence we’ll see for every of the distinctive accounts we handle will likely be a optimistic one.

What Is Changing About Exact Match?

In 2014, plurals and misspellings have been added as ‘close variants’ to phrase and precise match key phrases.

Now, Google has loosened the definition of tangible match even additional in order that it might set off adverts when the machine studying programs consider that the intent of the searcher matches the key phrase of the advertiser.

Examples supplied by Google embody situations the place extra phrases are implied, the place a time period paraphrases the key phrase, or the place the phrases point out the identical intent.

Exact match changes in Google Ads

Whereas plurals and misspellings have been pretty easy to perceive and to a point predict, related intent is broader and should warrant paying nearer consideration.

The different half value paying consideration to is that related intent could not equate to related worth.

For causes that may be arduous to grasp, even minor variations between key phrases can equate to large variations in conversion charges.

This is even true for plurals and singulars so it’s undoubtedly a good suggestion to verify together with your information that utilizing the phrase ‘campsites’ vs ‘camping’ performs equally. If not, then they need to be managed as separate key phrases with completely different bids.

Query Management Is a Must

Most of us have labored with Google lengthy sufficient to perceive that change is a continuing for advertisers.

So slightly than speculating about the true intent of Google, I feel it’s extra productive to take this variation in stride and replace our administration processes to reap the benefits of the possibly high-quality visitors this variation might deliver.

Specifically, you want to guarantee that your strategy of periodically evaluating queries continues to be finished.

This course of will show you how to discover new adverse key phrases in addition to high-quality queries that must be added as managed key phrases.

Should You Be Worried? Let’s Find Out!

This sort of change is inflicting some buzz.

Even in case your course of is prepared to take care of any new queries that your adverts begin exhibiting for, your boss or shopper could also be uneasy.

Hey, possibly you’re even a bit uneasy since you’d like to look past these hypothetical examples we acquired from Google about key phrases for “camping in Yosemite”.

So let’s check out how this variation is impacting your account.

1. Using the Ads Interface to Investigate

To get a way of the influence this variation can have in your account, and the way misspellings and plurals are already impacting your account because the change in 2014, you possibly can refer to the Search Terms report in Google Ads.

Be positive to add the Keyword column so you possibly can see which key phrase triggered a specific search time period.

Search terms analysis in Ads UIFind out what key phrases triggered shut variant precise matches in Google Ads within the Search Terms report

This Report Has a Few Shortcomings

The Match Type column refers to how the key phrase matched the question, and not the match sort of the key phrase itself. This is a kind of nuances in Google Ads; match sort can refer to two very various things.

For instance, a broad match key phrase might be an actual match to a question when it’s precisely the identical because the broad key phrase. While the broad match key phrase is eligible to set off adverts for a variety of searches, some subset of all these searches match the key phrase precisely, and therefore are reported as precise matches by Google.

So the one means to see the match sort of the key phrase is to have a look at the particular characters within the Keyword column. For instance, sq. brackets across the key phrase imply it’s an actual match key phrase.

This limitation makes it a bit more durable to do a fast evaluation of how precise match key phrases are getting matched to shut variants. And in the event you attempt to filter the key phrases that include the textual content ‘[‘, Google says there are no matches since the brackets are not technically part of the keyword text.

The other limitation I see is that the report only contains the performance metrics of the queries. And while you can certainly use this data to weed out low performing queries, I like doing a slightly deeper analysis that also takes into account the relative performance of the query compared to that of the keyword.

2. Doing the Analysis in Spreadsheets

As is usually the case, the analysis we really want to do takes us into spreadsheets. And you wonder why spreadsheets remain the favorite tool of many PPC marketers?!

The methodology is as follows:

  • Download a keyword performance report (including the keyword match type).
  • Download the search terms performance report.
  • Do a VLOOKUP to match every search term to the keyword that triggered it.
  • Get all the keyword and query data for each query into individual rows.
  • Filter the data to do the analysis.

There’s nothing particularly difficult about doing this analysis in a spreadsheet but all these manual steps are a bit tedious.

So let’s go and automate this.

3. Analyze the Close Variant Impact on Your Ads with Google Ads Scripts

Thanks to Google Ads Scripts, you can automate the analysis so that you can easily replicate it for other accounts you manage.

And as Google rolls out more changes to the algorithm, you can periodically check in to make sure that the impact is still positive. Just put the script on a monthly cycle so that you’ll get a new spreadsheet with the latest data to review.

Another nice benefit of scripts is that if you find the need to add negative keywords, you can automate that by adding a few more lines of code to the script.

The script also adds a match subtype column where I consider BMM (broad match modifier) to be a unique match type that is different from broad match. (Google doesn’t consider BMM to be its own match type).

Grab a copy of the script code here:

Script Settings

Really the only things you should edit are the email addresses that need to get an email when a report is ready and the usernames of everyone who should be allowed to access the report that is generated in Google Sheets.

So update the variables ‘emailAddresses’ and ‘accountManagers’ and leave everything else as-is unless you’re familiar with scripts and you know what you’re doing.

var time = ‘LAST_30_DAYS’;

var reportVersion = ‘v201802’;

var emailAddresses = ‘’;

var accountManagers = ‘’;

var spreadsheetUrl = ‘new’;

The Output of the Script

Here’s an example of the data you’ll get:

spreadsheet with close variant ads dataThis Google spreadsheet is generated by an Ads Script that merges query and keyword data to make it easy to see which close variants Google is expanding to for phrase and exact match keywords.

I’ve already used filters in Sheets to see only exact match keywords that were matched to a close variant. In this account the only variants are typos and plurals.

I’m going to continue monitoring this account with the script to find out what words Google considers as having the same intent.

Counting the Proximity Between the Query & Keyword

In the output, I wanted a way to more easily see how aggressive close variants are. In other words, how far they are from the keyword.

I figured one way to do this analysis is by counting the number of differences between the query and the keyword.

The Levenshtein distance seemed like a good measure to use as it counts the number of characters that need to be changed to transform one string (the keyword) into another string (the query).

In a pluralization, you would expect the difference to usually be one character (the addition or removal of the letter ‘s’ in English). Typos will usually consist of somewhere between 1 and 3 incorrectly typed characters.

So by looking at variants where the Levenshtein distance is in the range of 1 to 3, I can find the typical close match variants Google has now been doing for several years.

By looking for higher distances, I will be able to find where the words have been changed to ones with similar intent.


As Google is always updating its ad system, it’s critical for the humans overseeing the accounts to take on the role of the pilot who oversees that the automation is doing its job well.

Tools like Google Ads scripts are a great way to make that job easier by pointing out potential issues so that the account manager doesn’t need to merely trust the automation, nor check it manually.

I hope my script helps you do your job better and in less time.

More Paid Search Resources:

Image Credits

All screenshots taken by author, September 2018

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