Where’s the Control with AdWord’s Mandatory Close Variant Matching?

Where’s the Control with AdWord’s Mandatory Close Variant Matching?

Google recently caused quite the commotion in the Pay per Click world when it announced on August 14th that close variant keyword matching will be automatic by late September.

Close variant keyword matching is currently a keyword matching option in AdWords for exact and phrase match keyword types. Advertisers use this setting to allow their ads to show for close variants of their exact match and phrase match keywords, including:
  • misspellings (e.g. bicycle and bycicle)
  • singular and plural forms (e.g. candy and candies)
  • acronyms (e.g. RMT and Registered Massage Therapist)
  • stemmings (e.g, bed and bedding)
  • abbreviations (e.g. Dr. and Doctor, hr and hour)
  • accents (e.g. équipements and equipements)

Google reported that 7% of Google searches contain misspellings and therefore advertisers were missing legitimate opportunities to connect with potential customers. Automatic close variant keyword matching is their solution to help businesses reach more potential customers whose spelling is imperfect.

Sounds reasonable?

Google went on to say that this change would bring about more control and lessen complexity. This talk of ‘more control’ struck a nerve in the industry.

If you are familiar or experienced with AdWords, you have heard (know) Google’s core message that AdWords gives the advertiser full control over their campaign targeting and spend.  Some businesses build campaigns structured by match type.

  • For Exact Match type campaigns, they would have a set budget to bid higher on exact match keywords as they are confident that those clicks are from a potential on target customer.
  • Knowing that there’s a higher probability of off-target customers clicking on their ads, a separate campaign with lower bids would have been created for close variants.

So automatic close variant matching, once in effect, will eliminate pure Exact and Phrase Match keyword targeting, meaning less control over what search terms triggered their ads and what they are paying for them.

It did not take long for unhappy Search Marketers to express anger and frustration with the forced change and loss of control via blogs and Twitter, not to mention the development of a change.org petition.

Social Media Response to AdWords Announcement of Applying Close Match Variants






So now that you understand both sides, can control be restored?

Yes – by ramping up keyword suppression efforts and building your negative keyword lists!

This will require rigorous and ongoing monitoring of the keywords that trigger your ads to show. This will take up time and resources, that perhaps could be better utilized elsewhere in your business. It sounds like a lot of work, but it is a course of action.

Be proactive and avoid the upcoming work crunch by:

  • Enabling the close match variants function in your campaigns over the next few weeks to uncover additional search terms now, and deal with them a campaign at a time.
  • Dive anew into keyword research. Brainstorm to find and suppress off target keywords before they trigger your ads to show (and you pay for clicks).
  • If you find close variants that you want to target specifically, but are not willing to pay the maximum bid price you could:
    • Include them as a listed keyword, but set a lower keyword level bid (just make sure that you remember that you’ve set these keyword level bids. Bid changes made at the AdGroup level will not change keyword level bids).
    • Create a new AdGroup for these low priority keywords.  Set a a lower bid create less enticing ads with a weaker call to action.

You do not have to wait for Google to roll this out – take control now to limit potential off target spend and maintain tighter targeted campaigns.

Let us know what you think about Google’s change. How does it effect you?

By |2018-07-25T10:39:24-04:00September 4th, 2014|0 Comments

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