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Google AdWords update: Close variant matching to include rewording and reordering.

The author

Sean Healy

PPC Strategy Development Manager

Google has announced that over the next few months, it is expanding close variant matching to include additional rewording and reordering for exact match keywords.

What does it mean?

Google explained on the AdWords blog that this close variants update helps companies connect with people despite the differences in the way that they’ve searched.

The update means that function words – such as “in”, “for”, “the” and other words which don’t impact the intent behind a query will be ignored in exact match.

However, Google has stated that this should only happen when ignoring the function word won’t change the meaning of your keyword.

Additionally, exact match will now match with queries that are reordered variations of your keyword. For example, if someone searches “shoes running” it will match with the keyword “running shoes”.

Reordering won’t add any words, and Google has also detailed that keywords won’t be reordered to match with a query if it changes the original meaning.

What should you do now?

Initially, when these changes take effect, advertisers need to be extra vigilant to account spend, as accounts are likely to see an increase in impressions and clicks. 

Ensure that your daily budgets are set high enough so that they can accommodate this increase in traffic and that no impression share is lost due to budget constraints.

Be sure to review the quality of the search terms being triggered by exact match keywords and importantly, that the intent of the search query remains the same.

To use Google’s example, if the keyword “flights to New York” has been triggered by the search query “flights from New York”, these two obviously have very different intents. This shouldn’t happen, but as this change hasn’t been tested or previously trialled in beta, we can’t be sure that it won’t happen.

You can add any search queries which have affected the search intent incorrectly as negative keywords, and add high-volume search queries where the intent remains the same as positive keywords.

Looking more long-term, this change will potentially make it very difficult for advertisers bidding at keyword level, as that level of control could now slip.

We suggest having an ad group level bid, so highly-themed keywords are grouped together and assigned a collective bid. Keyword level bidding will certainly become more problematic from now on, due to alternative search queries being triggered to exact match keywords.

If you’re unsure if your campaigns are structured correctly to align with this update, please get in touch and we’d be happy to have a chat.