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On Friday evening, Google declared another change to the way exact match targeting works in AdWords. Coordinating for close variations — plurals, grammatical mistakes, shortenings, verb modifiers and so on — will be widened to incorporate varieties in word order and function words in the coming months. With this change, Google may ignore word order and function words when determining whether an ad should trigger for an exact match keyword.

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From running shoes to cheap hotels to credit cards, and everything in between, people are searching for the products and services you offer. However, finding the right keywords to reach your customers can be difficult–and many advertisers agree.Whether someone is searching for “running shoes” or “shoes for running,” what they want remains the same; they’re looking for running shoes. You shouldn’t have to build out exhaustive keyword lists to reach these customers, and now you don’t have to.

Close variants helps you connect with people who are looking for your business, despite slight variations in the way they search. To make it even easier for you to reach more of your customers, over the coming months we’re expanding close variant matching to include additional rewording and reordering for exact match keywords. Early tests show advertisers may see up to 3% more exact match clicks on average while maintaining comparable clickthrough and conversion rates.

Rewording and ignoring function words

Function words are prepositions (in, to), conjunctions (for, but), articles (a, the) and other words that often don’t impact the intent behind a query. With this change, exact match will ignore these function words to match with similar queries.

Function words are the only words that will be ignored. This should only happen when it won’t change the meaning of your keyword. For example, the “in” in “hotels in new york” can be safely ignored because it doesn’t affect the meaning. However, the “to” in “flights to new york” would not be ignored, because a “flight from new york” is not the same as a “flight to new york.”

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Same meaning, different order

Two keywords can share the same meaning, even if the word order is slightly different. For example, “buy new cars” and “new cars buy.” Now, exact match will use that same logic to match with queries that are reordered variations of your keyword.

It’s important to note that word reordering won’t add any words to your keywords. Your keywords also won’t be reordered to match with a query when it changes the original meaning of those keywords. For example, the keyword [SFO to JFK] shouldn’t match to the query “JFK to SFO” because the destination is different.

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Putting it all together

With this expansion of close variants, you’ll no longer have to build and maintain lists of reworded and reordered exact match keywords to get the coverage you want. If you already use reworded or reordered keyword variations, AdWords will still prefer to use those keywords identical to search queries. Phrase match keywords aren’t included in this update.

Going forward, use RLSA, Smart Bidding, the search terms report and negative keywords to help shape your traffic and reduce costs. To learn more about this and other strategies that can help you make the most of this change, check out our keyword best practices.

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