How to predict the Impact of Exactish Match

Since Google has announced to change the matching behaviour for phrase and exact match, the reactions have ranged from unenthusiastic to strong criticism. Some advertisers have mentioned that they were going to test the new matching behaviour. Actually, you don’t have to.

Basically what’s changing here is the definition of the exact match – a phrase match is just an exact match that allows words before and after. The new exact match will cover “close variants” as well – where have we heard that before? A modified broad match also covers close variants. Might those be the same?

According to AdWords Help, close variants for an exact match include:

  1. Misspellings
  2. Singular & plural forms
  3. Acronyms & abbreviations
  4. Stemmings
  5. Accents

And for modified broad match, AdWords Help lists the following close variants:

  1. Misspellings
  2. Singular & plural forms
  3. Acronyms & abbreviations
  4. Stemmings

The only difference here is “Accents”. But even those aren’t mentioned, modified broad match covers them anyway. I’d file those under the first one, misspellings.

For me it seems obvious that “close variants” work with exact match just like they work with modified broad matches. So in order to assess what the new exact matches will include, we can just look at the search queries from our modified broad keywords.

For example, if the keyword is +running +shoe and the search query is “buy shoes for runners”, you can deduce that “shoes” matched +shoe and “runners” matched +running. So if you were to use the exact match keyword [running shoe], it could match to a query like “runners shoes” (same word order, no additional words, but close variants).

For a quick glance at what this might mean for your keywords, you can do this: Download a search query report for your modified broad match keywords (filter by “+” and see search terms for selected keywords) and look only at the queries with the match type broad. Then do a search and replace on the search term column: Find “* *” (two asterics and a space in between) and replace with nothing. This will only leave you with single word terms that must’ve been matched as a close variant to a modified keyword. It’s quick and dirty, but you’ll get an idea what to expect.

(By the way, thanks to Andrew from clicks2customers.com for coining the term “exactish match” in a comment on the RKG blog. I think I’ll stick to that ;))

About the Author

Martin Roettgerding is the head of SEM at SEO/SEM agency Bloofusion Germany. On Twitter he goes by the name @bloomarty, and you can find him regularly on #ppcchat.