Best Practices For Google Ads Following Three Major Changes


It’s always important to know about the changes made to ad platforms to determine what best practices to follow in the new paradigm. Left unchanged, your campaigns may decline in performance as some keywords may stop working.


Change 1: Exact match is no longer exact.

With Google Ads search campaigns, advertisers must indicate which searches they would like to bid on by choosing keywords and assigning match types. One of the options for match types is exact match. Exact match used to mean that a search term would have to appear exactly as the user entered it in order for it to match to the corresponding keyword. For example, if you added “startup marketing agency” on exact match to your account, then your bid would be entered into the auction only if a user input “startup marketing agency” as their search query. If the user searched for “growth startup marketing agency websites,” then your bid for “startup marketing agency” on exact match would not be eligible for the auction.


However, exact match is no longer so exact. Google has relaxed its criteria over the years, so exact match now matches to searches that Google believes meet the searcher’s intent. These matches are known as “close variants.” Previously, you could trust that your exact match keywords and the corresponding search terms were word-for-word matches (misspellings and plurals aside), but that is no longer the case. With this first major change, I cannot emphasize enough just how critical it is to check your search terms reports and add negative keywords for queries that are not relevant to your business.


Change 2: Modified broad match has been removed.

A less refined exact match is not the only major match type change Google has made in recent years. This year, Google did away entirely with modified broad match. Previously, by adding plus signs before certain terms in your keyword, Google would serve your ad as long as all terms denoted by a plus sign showed up in the search query, regardless of additional terms included in the query or the order in which the component terms appeared. This match type cast a wider net than phrase match but offered more quality control than regular broad match.