When Exact Search Becomes Even More Exact

Posted on February 22nd, 2019 by True Media

Steps Search Professionals Can Take Following Google Updates

When it comes to paid search and Google, the only certainty is change. For years, exact match meant exactly that – a search term had to match a keyword exactly in order for an ad to be served. In 2014, Google began including misspellings & plurals to exact match and in 2017, began including searches where the words in the keyword were out of order or included preposition or conjunctions. At the end of last year, Google announced the latest iteration of exact match in which keywords match “close variants that share the same meaning of your keywords.” 

The example given by Google to show how these variants apply.


There are likely several reasons for these continual exact match changes, from costs per click to Google helping advertising better control the growing size of paid search accounts. However, one thing in certain – these updates have an impact on paid search accounts of all sizes.

Google estimates the most recent changes will increase the reach of exact match keywords by roughly 3%, likely leading to similar increases in overall costs if click thru rates remain – even across the additional searches.

Here are three things search professionals can do to minimize negative impacts and keep paid search accounts running at peak optimization following any Google updates.

  • Audit – Conduct an audit of keyword sets to examine any possible duplicates the change would create.
  • Be Negative – Think of possible iterations of your search terms and add new negatives to prevent serving on non-optimal searches.
  • Match Types – Consider other match types you could utilize instead of or in addition to exact match. For example, Google confirmed their most recent change did not affect phrase match types, which may be an option if costs are an overriding concern.