Google recently announced an upcoming change to its keyword matching options for advertisers: impacting only exact and phrase match keywords, advertisers will no longer be able to select the advanced Search Network setting “do not include close variants.” Rolling out in late September, this update will mainly impact advertisers currently opting out of close variant matching for exact and phrase keywords. Close variant keyword matching was first announced by Google in 2012, allowing advertisers to capture additional search results based off user intent- close keyword variants include misspellings, singular/plural forms, stemmings, accents and abbreviations. Since launching, this behavioral mapping has benefited both advertisers and searchers: advertisers experience incremental clicks on exact and phrase keywords, while searchers are served with the most relevant ad despite misspellings in search queries. IMPLICATIONS for ADVERTISERS Most advertisers will not experience changes in keyword traffic as close variant matching is currently the default keyword setting in AdWords. As Google removes its opt-out feature from the Search Network, keep the following in mind:
- Traffic Increase: When using close variant matching, advertisers see on average a 7% increase in exact and phrase match clicks
- Additional Reach: Google notes that at least 7% of searches contain misspellings. While consumer search queries aren’t perfect, intent remains the same. Close variant matching allows advertisers to capture and connect with additional customers.
- Campaign & Keyword Management: Some advertisers choose to opt-out of close variant matching to manage separate “misspelling” campaigns and keyword lists. Advertisers using this campaign structure will not see performance changes as Google will continue to “prefer” keywords with the exact variation of the search query.
- Increased Competition: Because some advertisers currently opt-out of close variant matching, brands could see increased competition on keyword variants. Watch out for ad position and cost-per-click (CPC) changes in the next few months.
- Negative Additions: Negative keyword additions will be important for advertisers currently opting out of close variant matching. Look through search query reports to identify keyword mapping changes, then add negatives where necessary. This is an important step for keywords mapping to low performing search queries, which can negatively impact overall performance metrics.
- Performance Metrics: Most advertisers will be minimally impacted by this update and should expect to see little to no change in keyword performance. For advertisers currently opting out of close variant matching, expect to see incremental impressions and clicks post September.
Once Google removes its close variant opt-out option, all advertisers should closely monitor changes in search query reports to see how keyword mapping and performance metrics have been impacted. For more information on Google’s close variant keyword matching update, please contact your Performics Account Team today