close variant matching adwords
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Close Variant Matching Explained


Though many people have discussed it as ‘the end of exact match’ that poses one of the biggest change to AdWords in recent times, close variant matching is not an entirely new concept. AdWords users have actually had the option to match to ‘plurals, misspells and, other close variants’ to Exact and Phrase keywords since April 2012. Actually, this has been a default option for so long that many campaigns will have been already opted in. In fact, most campaigns running are already opted in, by default.

The change is expected to come into effect in September It will remove the option for campaigns to be opted out, and Exact and Phrase match keywords will begin matching to close keyword variations. According to Google, we can expect increases of 14% in impressions and 7% in clicks. That could lead to a drop in click-through rate (CTR), having a negative impact upon quality score and overall ad spend.

So what does this actually mean for PPC marketers?

Google claims that applying close variant keyword matching to all exact and phrase match keywords will help to reach more of potential customers with the right ad while aiming to lower cost per click and improve click through rate. But is it really? The close variant matching was already the default setting for campaigns, and the change didn’t cause any rises or falls in keyword matching behaviour.

So why all of this?
Personally, I have an impression that this is one of those ‘improvements’, which actually works for the benefit of Google, not necessarily advertisers. That what happened a while ago, when enhanced campaign took away an opportunity to specifically target mobile devices only.

Was that helpful?
On the bright site with this update, we no longer have to build exhaustive lists of misspelled, abbreviated, the singular and plural keyword versions and other close variations of keywords to get the right exposure.

Also, there’s no need to focus on adding negative keywords and all close variants to optimise traffic and reduce cost. Potentially this can improve campaigns’ ROI and help deliver a better ad experience for customers. However to combat the negative impact of your CTR dropp and to avoid losing control of ad appearance it’s still necessary to adjust negative keyword list, although now it’s better if it’s done on the ‘ad group negative keywords’ level to ensure the right keywords trigger ads. You can learn more about the benefits of negative keywords form Google’s keyword white paper

For more info about the change go to official AdWords blog


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