Google Update – Exact match keywords will still be given preference over phrase and broad match terms

3 min read

All advertisers hear me out, Google Ads has made changes to the way queries are matched to keywords. 

What does that mean? What changes it will make? What should we do? 

If you’re thinking of any of these questions, keep reading and you will get all the latest information and updates here.

Google has made changes to keyword matching, along with a preference for phrases and broad keywords that are similar to the query string. Google is also making changes to the matching process for queries that do not have an identical keyword match.


Why this Change?

According to Google,

What consumers want and how they search for it is constantly changing. In fact, google observed billions of searches every day, and 15% of those queries are ones that haven’t been seen before. To help customers reach these new, relevant searches while still meeting performance goals, it is recommended to use broad match paired with Smart Bidding. On average, advertisers that switch their exact match keywords to broad match can see more conversions and a higher conversion value.

It is now easier to succeed with this strategy over the last year by improving broad match relevance, recommending new opportunities to switch to broad match, and making keyword matching more straightforward. 

However, Google knows you want higher quality and more control over which keywords match to a search. As a result, they are introducing new features based on your feedback, such as a better understanding of search intent and more precision in how keywords match.


For example, if the query string cake shop in California is eligible to match multiple broad match keywords in your account (like cake shop, cake shop near me, and cake shop in California ), Google will give preference to the identical keyword i.e. Cakeshop in California. In addition, it will also search for more relevant results it will still be preferred over the phrase and broad match keyword.


Furthermore, Google has revealed that BERT’s language understanding capabilities are now being used to understand query intent and match it to keywords.

Improved understanding of language and intent

It can be challenging to understand the intent behind each search, especially for long, complex search queries. Since 2019, our research team has made significant improvements in how we interpret language, queries, and search intent—and your keywords now use this same technology to connect you with more people that are searching for what you have to offer.  

Since your broad match keyword can match a variety of queries, this technology is particularly useful for broad match. For example, a highly specific query like “1995 5 speed transmission seal input shaft” is now able to match with the broad match keyword auto parts because we can tell they’re related, even though none of the words in the query and in the keyword actually match. This means that broad match can now help you find more relevant, high-performing traffic using fewer keywords.

More predictability in how keywords match

There are times when multiple keywords are eligible to match with a search. This may have led to searches matching with keywords you thought were less relevant, making it more difficult to provide the right experience for your customers. To make sure the most relevant keyword is selected when this happens, we’ve made the following improvements: 

When a search is identical to one of your keywords 

Earlier this year, it was announced that an exact match keyword that is identical to a query is now always preferred as long as it’s eligible to match. Going forward, both phrase and broad match keywords will follow the same behavior.

When a search is not identical to any of your keywords 

Previously, when you had multiple keywords that were eligible to match and none were identical to the search, your Ad Rank would determine which keyword served. Now, we consider relevance signals in addition to Ad Rank when determining which keyword is selected. Relevance is determined by looking at the meaning of the search term, the meaning of all the keywords in the ad group, and the landing pages within the ad group.


Google also advised advertisers to group keywords into narratively consistent ad groups so that their ads represent from the ad group they expect them to: “Let’s say your business provides grocery delivery, and your most popular search categories are Chicken and vegetable delivery.” In this case, we recommend creating three ad groups to tailor your creative and landing page: one for ‘chicken delivery,’ another for ‘vegetable delivery,’ and a third for ‘grocery delivery.’