On March 17th, Google announced announced another change to the way exact match keyword targeting works for search ads. Matching for close variants – plurals, typos, abbreviations, adverbs and the like – will be broadened to include variations in work order and function words in the coming months.  Once this change comes into effect, Google may ignore word order and function words when determining if a search ad should trigger for an exact match keyword.  Basically, exact will truly no longer means exact anymore.

Close variants were introduced back in 2012 as a way t capture plurals, misspellings, typos and other versions of exact match and phrase match keywords to broaden both reach and coverage.  This would save time building out search keyword lists.  If an advertiser wanted tighter control was able to opt out of close variant matching until 2014, where Google decided to remove the ability to opt out of close variants for exact match and phrase match. Bing soon followed suit the very next year.

The change reflected Google’s increasing confidence in their machine learning capabilities.

According to Google, early tests indicate that advertisers could see up to a three percent increase in more exact match clicks on average, even though they will maintain comparable click-through and conversion rates.

For more on the details of the changes, see full coverage on Search Engine Land.

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