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Google Introduces Changes to Close Variant Keyword Matching


Google recently announced a change to its keyword matching strategy used by advertisers to control how user queries trigger ads. Starting in September, the traditionally granular match types—phrase match and exact match—will display for more user queries. Google will also allow keywords to show on similar query matches such as misspellings, plural/singular variants, abbreviations, and other close variations. For example, a “storage unit” keyword may show for “stroage units” “storage uni ts” and “storages units” user searches.

Google offers advertisers four match types to trigger ads in AdWords: broad match, broad match modifier, phrase match, and exact match. The more broad the keyword match type, the more opportunity that keyword has to show an ad in response to a wider range of searches. The more granular or exact the keyword matching option, the more relevant that keyword will be to the user’s search.

Google AdWords Closer Variant Keyword Matching

Google first introduced the close variant matching option in 2012. At that time, it allowed advertisers to choose whether they wanted their keywords to show on close variations of their existing keywords. This is especially helpful to generate clicks from misspelled searches, which Google estimates to be up to 7% of searches. This change is designed to connect people (including those who mistype) with “the businesses, products, and services they’re trying to find.” September marks the first time that Google will no longer give advertisers the option to choose to utilize close variants. Everyone will be opted in.

Thus far, the major concern across the industry has been losing insight and control over how tiered keyword bids are set by match type. With phrase and exact match keywords triggering ads on close variant keywords, the concern is that Google will choose the highest bid, inflating cost-per-click, regardless of the keyword settings. Google will still prefer keywords that are identical to search queries, and recommends that advertisers add close variations of target keywords if they see performance differences.  With many keywords and close variants in place, G5 feels confident that clients' bidding options are currently under control.

Nevertheless, prior to advertisers being automatically opted into this setting in late September, G5 will be closely monitoring the results of this change for clients. As needed, G5 will update keyword match and negative keyword strategies to mitigate performance fluctuations. Brought to you by G5, the leading provider of Digital Experience Management® software and services for the property management sector.