Google made a big announcement a week ago regarding the way it handles keyword matching in Google Search Ads. This has taken search advertising professionals a while to digest fully, and as usual with these things, the reaction has been largely critical.
I’m not going to explain the fairly arcane changes here, as many people have done it well elsewhere. Google says it’s all about “matching the most relevant keyword to every search.”
For some time now, an exact match keyword that is identical to a query has been the one which is used, but now both phrase and broad match keywords will follow the same behaviour. So for a search on ‘blue widgets’, your exact match keyword ‘blue widgets’, if it exists, is the one triggered, but if it doesn’t, and you have broad match keywords ‘blue widgets’ and ‘fast blue widgets’, the former will be chosen. So is there any point in having the exact match keyword? Possibly not.
When a search is not an exact match to any of your keywords but there are still multiple keywords eligible to match, there’s also a change of policy. Until now, the Ad Rank would determine which keyword gets used, but going forward, Google says it will consider ‘relevance signals in addition to Ad Rank’ to determine which keyword is selected. This means the meaning of the search term, as well as all the keywords and landing pages within the ad group.
New Changes to Google Ads Keyword Matching: What It Really Means on the Wordstream blog is the best guide I’ve found to the changes, and the response from the industry.