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Bringing Exact Match Back!

I’ll try not to get too technical with this post but those that have experience in Google Ads will appreciate this post.

Earlier this month Google announced another change to what are considered close variants of an exact match keyword to include variations that share the same meaning as the keyword, including implied words and paraphrases. The exact words are no longer the sole trigger for your ads to show on exact match keywords.

Way back in the early days of Adwords we used to be able to bid on exact match keywords with confidence that our ads would only be showing when exact searches were made for the keyword phrase we were bidding on. So if we were bidding on [Attorneys in New Orleans] we were confident that the ads would only be shown for that exact search. Then in 2014 Google removed the close variant option in the campaign settings. That option allowed us to block close variants easily. That move upset many in the profession because it was seen as a money grab.

Why is the exact match so important? Here’s an example. We have determined through months of testing that [Attorneys in New Orleans] is the keyword we bid on instead of [Lawyers in New Orleans] for a client. Why? it simply outperformed the Lawyers version. The cost per lead was lower and the overall cost per click was lower as well. When you are paying anywhere from $25 to $150 per click you want to make sure that EVERY click has the best chance possible for a lead.

While the lawyer related searches have more impressions as shown above, the attorney searches have a lower cost per click, higher average positions at a lower cost per click as well as higher conversion ratio. Why is several factors but the most important is the difference between the two main words. Do you know what the difference between a lawyer and an attorney is? Most will say there is no difference but there is. Lawyer is a general term for a person who gives legal device and aid and who conducts suits in court. An attorney or, more correctly, an attorney-at-law, is a member of the legal profession who represents a client in court when pleading or defending a case. In the US, attorney applies to any lawyer. Is it because people that are searching for attorneys are closer to needing someone to go to bat for them in case? Maybe, what we do know is that it performs better for our client and that is the most important factor.

Now that we have laid out the case for exact matches what can we do to prevent the ads from being shown on searches that are not exact? Years ago when the close variants option was removed we started using an Adwords script that would review the previous day’s search queries and compare them to the keywords in the ad group. If the search query was identified as a close variant on the keywords we were bidding on then the script would automatically add it as a negative. Neat huh? We thought so as well and started using it in those accounts where we know we needed it. I hadn’t used it in a while but I think it’s about time to dust it off and put it back in use. You can find a rundown on the script here as well as get the code. Let’s bring exact match back!