Google is taking steps to improve the predictability of how keywords match, especially when multiple keywords are eligible to match the query.
A phrase-match or a broad-match keyword that is identical to a query when it is eligible to match is the most preferred, Walter Vulej, product manager at Google Ads, wrote in a blog post on Thursday.
For example, when someone searches for “sushi delivery near me,” marketers can use the broad-match keywords “sushi delivery” and “sushi delivery near me.” Prior to this change, both keywords would have been eligible. Now, the keyword “sushi delivery near me” is preferred because it is identical to the search term.
The change follows a similar move made earlier this year when Google announced that it preferred marketers use an exact-match keyword that was identical to a query.
Sometimes a search is not identical to any keywords being used by the marketer.
Previously, when this occurred and the marketer had multiple keywords that were eligible to match and none were identical to the search, Google Ad Rank would determine the keyword served.
Now, Google says it considers relevance signals in addition to Ad Rank when determining the keyword selected.
Relevance is determined by looking at the meaning of the search term, the meaning of all the keywords in the ad group, and the landing pages within the ad group, according to Google.
The changes, along with an improved understanding of search intent and more predictability in how keywords match, aim to provide additional controls.
Google has also explained that the language capabilities of BERT, abbreviated for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers, are now being used to understand the intent of queries, as well as being used to match them to keywords.