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Google has recently announced a future change to how phrase and exact-match keywords will work, which is expected to be in place from mid-May onwards. It is being called 'near' exact match and 'near' phrase match.

Google has recently announced a future change to how phrase and exact-match keywords will work, which is expected to be in place from mid-May onwards. It is being called 'near' exact match and 'near' phrase match. Previously, with exact match, your ad only showed if the exact term was searched for. This is going to change. Google has announced that it is going to allow your ads to show for close variations of a keyword, even on exact match. This means that although you are bidding on a keyword with exact match, your advert could show for other variants of this exact term. Adwords has defined what it determines as close variants below:

           close variants include misspellings, singular and plural forms, acronyms, stemmings (such as floor and flooring), abbreviations, and accents
This could be good news as it means your ads should show for relevant variations of your keywords, such as plurals and misspellings, and this could result in more good traffic. It has been reported that a huge number of searches contain misspellings which means that advertisers could pick up highly relevant traffic they previously would not have. However, it will be interesting to see how this change works in practice and if it matches to any irrelevant search terms or high-volume terms that were not included in the account for a reason. Also, having less control over plurals is slightly disconcerting. If the plural has a huge amount of volume then this could transform the performance of a keyword quite dramatically. This change does mean that when managing a PPC account there needs to be more checks about what terms your ads are actually showing for. Below are some examples of what keywords will start picking up traffic for when the change occurs.
Keyword Search Term
   
[black trousers]       -> black trousers
   
"black trousers"      -> long black trousers
This is quite a large change to make from Google, as previously advertisers could be confident in the knowledge that their ads were showing for an exact term only if they set their keywords to exact match. In some accounts there will be a plural keyword separated from the singular term into a different ad group due to them performing very differently. This will make it even more important than it already is to use negative keywords in future to ensure there is no crossover and you have full control over the keywords in the account. An important question we need to think about is: will a search query report show the alternative variations that an exact match term has shown ads for or will it just show the data for the exact term as it does now? According to Adwords the answer is that we will be able to see the actual search terms used! The match type will appear against the search queries in the report and they will be called Exact match (close variants) and Phrase match (close variants). This change makes it more important than ever to check search query reports for any irrelevant terms your ads may be showing for. This match-type change could affect performance in Adwords accounts quite significantly, depending on its current set up. It is important to keep note of when the change is happening and monitor any changes in your results. The good news is that you can opt out of this change if you feel it is for the best; if it has any negative effect on the performance of your account then you can simply change the settings. Within the campaign settings, in the advanced settings section, you can choose to "not include close variant" and so this change will not affect you. Not surprisingly, Google has opted existing campaigns to default to include the new changes. What are your thoughts on this Google announcement? Leave me a comment below.