SEO Implications of Google Ads’ New Exact Match

Ash Nallawalla

4 December 2018


Brad Geddes has published an excellent post entitled “Exact match is no longer exact match – are you managing the changes correctly?” Although it is about PPC, can SEOs learn from it? It is a timely reminder for those of us in SEO and content writing to be aware of Search Intent versus Keyword Intent.

I’ll also point out that there is no connection between the algorithms for Google Ads and organic Search. Nevertheless, it does not hurt to infer a connection for the purpose of tightening up our organic keywords. After all, many permanent web pages also serve as ad landing pages. Keywords are part of the Quality Score, so why not look for synergies.

At my day job I have been updating our master keyword list and will look for such potentially conflicting keywords. The concept of exact match does not apply directly to SEO, other than the rare searcher who does searches using quote marks, but tightening up our keywords can only be beneficial.

To pick an example, a Google search for “credit card app” triggers organic results about:

  • Phone apps (probably the search intent)
  • Card readers by several suppliers
  • Card processing by Square
  • Apply for a credit card – ANZ

But the searcher might be thinking of something not related to any of the above. Is it a Google Pay or Apple Pay (no Apple results showed)? Is it an app that keeps track of your card spend across several banks? And so on.

Incidentally, three ads appeared only at the bottom of the SERP and were ANZ/Woolies/Commbank bank credit cards.

Brad’s article mentions the use of the search term “Yosemite camping“, which Google used as an example when rolling this out. A searcher could type:

  • Yosemite national park ca camping
  • Yosemite campground
  • Campsites in Yosemite

From Australia, the only two ads I see relate to:

  • Yosemite’s official website page about camping and campgrounds.
  • Save the Woods web page with a map of the area (leaving me wondering what to make of this info)

Granted, “Yosemite camping” is a vague search term, but one has to allow for such searches. So what’s the challenge here for the SEO?

A content writer should consider the possible use cases for someone who is interested in camping in Yosemite. For example:

  • Wild animal hazards and preventive steps
  • Time of year considerations
  • Campgrounds
  • Rules for lighting fires for a barbecue or campfire
  • Do they mean living in a tent, RV, cabins or even a motel?
  • Environmental care

One clue about the algorithm comes from the “Searches Related to Yosemite camping”, which are:

  • yosemite camping prices
  • yosemite camping cabins
  • yosemite camping map
  • yosemite camping permits
  • best yosemite campgrounds
  • yosemite valley camping
  • rv camping near yosemite
  • best rv camping in yosemite

The actual organic results in the SERP seem to be focused on accommodation rather than the other aspects of camping. So do the ads.

The (closely related) keyword suggestions in Google Keyword Planner are also accommodation-centric, so the writer can safely assume that Google has made this close association at the moment.


So what are the writer’s options? “Yosemite camping” is, therefore, not a good keyword if you don’t want to be accommodation-centric. If you searched Keyword Planner for the other terms, such as Yosemite bears , you will get a good set of related keywords. Then let the usual SEO guidance for content kick in. Headings, title, images, videos, captions and so on.


Ash Nallawalla

Search strategist experienced in large, complex websites. SEO consultant.

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1 Comment

  • PXM on 15 December 2018


    Thanks for posting such a wonderful and excellent article.
    Its not only amazing for beginners but for anyone
    willing to learn.
    Keep up the good work.

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