Some big news came from Google ads yesterday. To summarize, the search engine announced changes to how it uses BERT to better understand keywords and search intent. However, there’s a bit more to unpack.
The biggest changes relate to how Google handles phrase and broad match keywords when they match, what happens when they are not identical, and how BERT is used to match keywords to queries.
See Google’s full statement below:
“What consumers want and how they search for it is constantly changing. In fact, we see billions of searches every day, and 15% of those queries are ones we haven’t seen before1. To help you reach these new, relevant searches while still meeting your performance goals, we recommend using broad match paired with Smart Bidding. On average, advertisers that switch their exact match keywords to broad match can see more conversions and a higher conversion value.”
Over the past year, we’ve made it easier to find success with this strategy by improving broad match relevance, recommending new opportunities to switch to broad match, and making keyword matching more predictable. However, we’ve also heard that you want higher quality and more control over which keywords match a search. That’s why we’re rolling out new improvements based on this feedback, including improved understanding of search intent and more predictability in how keywords match.”
Now, let’s dive a bit deeper.
Improved Understanding Of Language And Intent
Because keywords can match to multiple different queries, Google is using technology like BERT to interpret language, queries, and search intent, which helps with broad match.
Google provided the following example:
“A highly specific query like “1995 5 speed transmission seal input shaft” is now able to match with the broad match keyword auto parts because we can tell they’re related, even though none of the words in the query and in the keyword actually match. This means that broad match can now help you find more relevant, high-performing traffic using fewer keywords.”
For those who are unfamiliar, BERT is a neural network-based technique for natural language processing pre-training. Google uses this tool to better understand the context of words in search queries.
Better Predictability in Matching Keywords
It’s a common occurrence for multiple keywords to match with a particular search, search, which often leads to searches being matched with less relevant keywords.
Google has made the following improvements to help ensure the most relevant keywords are being selected:
When A Search Is Identical To One Of Your Keywords
Google previously announced that exact match keywords that are the same as a search query will now always be preferred. Now, Google says that both phrase and broad match keywords will follow the same rule.
See Google’s example below:
“Let’s say someone searches for “sushi delivery near me”, and you have the broad match keywords sushi delivery and sushi delivery near me. Before this update, both of these keywords would be eligible to serve. Now, the keyword sushi delivery near me is preferred because it is identical to the search term. Note that if you have an eligible exact match keyword that is identical to the query, it will still be preferred over the phrase and broad match keyword.”
When A Search Is Not Identical To Any Of Your Keywords
In the good old days, you would have multiple keywords eligible to match, none of which were identical to a search. In these instances, your Ad Rank would decide which keyword matched best. Now, Google is looking at relevance signals along with Ad Rank to help determine which keyword will be chosen.
Learn more about the keywords that are eligible along with how they are selected by checking out the official Google Ads announcement.