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Jessica LinderJune 25, 20242 min read

Understanding Google Ads' changes to keyword match types

In paid search, the keyword match types determine how closely the keyword needs to match the user's search query for the ad to be considered for the auction. Traditionally, exact match keywords had to precisely match the search term. With phrase match keywords, the ad is displayed only for searches containing your exact phrase, perhaps with additional words before or after. Broad match, on the other hand, encompasses a wide range of possibilities, allowing your ad to appear for searches including your keywords, synonyms, related searches, and even misspellings.   

Google Ads has recently implemented important changes to the behavior of keyword match types, especially for broad matches. Previously, if the same keyword was used across all match types, the auction 'winner' was determined by bid, quality score, and expected click-through rate. However, this is no longer the case. Let's look at these changes and what they mean for advertisers.  

The changes 

The main change affects how the broad match campaign setting impacts keyword prioritization. Here's what you need to know:  

  • Broad match takes priority: When the broad match campaign setting is turned on, all keywords are treated as broad match.  
  • Priority in the auction: If the same keyword exists in an exact match in a different campaign, the keyword with the highest ad rank will be entered into the auction. This highlights the increasing importance of broad matches in terms of prioritization.  


The Impact of the changes 

These changes represent a significant shift towards broad match becoming a dominant match type, from a technical standpoint. It challenges the traditional hierarchy of match types and shows Google's intention to promote the use of broad matches among advertisers. Also, with close variants becoming more prevalent, running all keywords on all match types is no longer recommended. Exact match keywords still hold significant value in most scenarios, except when directly competing with the same syntax in a broad match campaign.  

This favoring of broad match aligns with Google’s push to integrate more AI automation into its search. Broad match types leverage additional ‘signals’ that exact and phrase does not.   


Adapting to the changes 

These changes highlight the evolving landscape of Google Ads, and advertisers must adjust their strategies accordingly. While the broad match may not completely replace the exact and phrase match, it's evident that its role is expanding, and advertisers should explore its potential benefits.  

Understanding these changes empowers advertisers to make informed decisions and optimize their campaigns effectively. In today's dynamic landscape, it's more important than ever to stay proactive and stay on top of the search term report. This involves ensuring that irrelevant search terms are negated and testing new strategies as we navigate through these changes.  


Jessica Linder

Read posts from Jessica Linder.