Google recently announced marketers won't be able to exclude keyword phrases that aren't exact matches, starting in September, affirming its focus on context.

Marketers were up in arms last week when they learned Google plans to take away exact match and phrase match keywords for AdWords campaigns starting in September. The consensus is that this is bad for companies running paid campaigns because they will have less control over when their ads show up in results pages. Less control means paying more money in this case, because the ads will show up for a wider range of queries like misspellings and plurals.

So if a marketer targets “beauty spas in Ohio,” their ads could also be displayed for plural phrases like “beauty spa in Ohio,” or typos like “beauty spa in Ohip.”

While this comes as a change to people using paid search strategies, it might seem like old news to marketers entrenched in organic SEO. During the past year, Google has made a direct move toward context-based search results and is looking beyond keywords when determining whether certain content is the best answer for users’ questions. We’ve seen cases where blog content is getting traffic for search terms that aren’t explicitly included in the piece.

You should be optimizing for ideas and concepts just as much as specific keyword phrases because context is the future of SEO.

In parallel, paid ads will now get traffic and clicks for terms they don’t target outright. What sounds like a positive change – more impressions and clicks – poses challenges for some marketers. Many small businesses used the exact match feature to keep their costs down by carefully regulating AdWords lists and thus, costs.  However, some search marketing experts report you can still exclude some terms by building out a negative keyword list.

What’s bad for marketing budgets may ultimately prove to be beneficial for users. U.S. consumers now spend more time browsing the web on mobile devices than they do on desktop computers and smartphone/tablet users will probably get better results when Google shows them organic and paid content for queries that include plurals and misspelled keyword phrases.

Here’s the overall marketing takeaway: You should be optimizing for ideas and concepts just as much as specific keyword phrases because context is the future of SEO.

Lauren Kaye is a Marketing Editor at Brafton Inc. She studied creative and technical writing at Virginia Tech before pursuing the digital frontier and finding content marketing was the best place to put her passions to work. Lauren also writes creative short fiction, hikes in New England and appreciates a good book recommendation.