In case you haven’t heard, Google has decided to ignore function words and word order for exact match keywords.
If you just want to know how to fix this travesty, then scroll to the stopgap solution section where I’m sharing a script from Brainlabs (my employer) which will automatically add so-called “close variants” as negative keywords. Yippee! If you also want to hear me rant about Google’s astonishingly stoopid behavior, then read on…
A few years ago (2014), Google eliminated advertisers’ ability to exclude close variants as part of “exact match,” and they got away with it. People were angry. The industry suffered a blow. But people gradually moved on.
Now they’re messing with exact match again, but this time they’ve gone too far.
In the new exact match universe, an “exact match” can include close variants of the keywords and can also include the same words, but in an entirely different order. Google is denying the importance of syntax, at the expense of the industry and, ultimately, itself.
To clarify, not all syntactic variations of the same set of words will match. Google’s machine learning algorithm will, to some extent, avoid matches where the word order changes the meaning. An obvious example is for flights: [LHR to JFK] is obviously very different from [JFK to LHR], so there’ll be no match there.
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