Google’s Updated Keyword Selection Preferences and How They Work

POST LEVEL: Advanced

Google Ads recently updated its keyword selection preferences. Thereby lots of our students wanted clarification on how exactly it works and what would be the impact on current campaigns. DMIOA PPC faculties Monika and Shreya compiled this piece of work for our students.

Google has recently updated the keyword selection preferences as per the match types of the keyword. It has widened the scope of matching a search query with the match types. The search queries whose meaning is the same as a phrase match or broad match modifier keywords will now be able to trigger ads against the seemingly different worded keyword.

See the example below for more clarity.

keyword selection preferences: example 1

Example 1

keyword selection preferences: example 2

Example 2

Google has also stated that they are making changes to their keyword selection process. They will now prefer the keyword match type that is closer to the meaning of the search term. This is aimed to avoid keyword match types from conflicting with each other.

We have mapped several scenarios clarifying how Google Ads keyword selection preferences are designed to work with the same meaning keywords.

  1. Existing preferences prevail over the new identical meaning match - A broad match query will match to the closest phrase match type even if you have added a new keyword that is phrase match and has an identical meaning. Example – Search term query: broad match

  2. Same-meaning exact match keywords – An exact match query will trigger the keyword that is close to the query. For example, the query affordable denture should trigger the exact match [affordable dentures]. It should not trigger the keyword [affordable partial dentures] if both are active in an account. Search term query: exact match

  3. New keywords with the same meaning as existing keywords – A broad match query that is closest to a phrase match added into the account will trigger. However, when you add new keywords, the new keywords that more closely match to the query will trigger and not the original phrase match keyword. But the new keywords, however will compete against each other on Ad Rank to determine which keyword triggers the ad. Which search term query trigger

However, there are certain exceptional circumstances where the same-meaning matching could take precedence:

  1. If different match types of keywords are in separate ad groups, they will compete for Ad Rank to trigger ads. Those match types can be kept in a single ad group (SKAG) for better management. Single Keyword Ad Group
  2. If a keyword is paused, it will no longer participate in the auction, and the query will trigger ads for the keyword closely matching its meaning among the active keywords pool.
  3. If a campaign gets limited by budget after spending the daily budget limit, it may not be able to show on all the queries. It is now more important to monitor the search terms, pause some keyword variants, and keep adding negative keywords. Limited budget campaign

How Will This Change Impact the Advertisers?

Google is smart as it has always focused on user-intent when it comes to search & so it is continuously incorporating more intent-focused features into Google Ads. It depends on machine learning for determining different keyword variants with the same meaning.

This update has simply helped advertisers to cover all the bases in the keyword research process.

To make the most from this new update & to improve the ROI of your business, Google recommends the following practices:

  1. Campaign Audit - Audit your campaign structure for keyword diversity and match type selection.
  2. Add Negative Keywords - Dig into your search term query report regularly. Use negative keywords to exclude the matches you don’t want. Review your search term reports to understand how keywords are actually entering the AdWords auction as this will help to prevent keywords from competing against each other.
  3. Consider Smart Bidding – Smart Bidding optimizes your keyword bids in real-time. It lowers bids in the auction when your ads are less relevant or not performing well.

Though this is a smart move from Google that will provide more control & flexibility while managing a campaign, it is imperative to observe the patterns in which the ads will trigger. Since the whole feature is based on machine learning and artificial intelligence implemented by Google; we need to understand how it works on the ground. A very close look at the Search Term report is mandatory. Figuring out the similar keywords and ads they triggered, one can easily incorporate the new practices in their campaigns & enjoy better control over triggering ads.



The PPC faculty at DMIOA specializes in managing and optimizing multiple advertising networks that include Google Search, Display, Yahoo Gemini Ads, Bing Ads, and Facebook Ads. They believe that no goals can be achieved without developing an in-depth understanding of PPC research and the insights of your niche paid campaigns.

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