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Google Adwords to Apply Close Variant Keyword Matching Automatically

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For many years, Google Adwords advertisers have been able to opt out of close variant keyword matching in order that their ads were not seen by people using plurals or mis-spellings of their main keyword. However, from late September, Google is removing that option so that in future close variants will automatically be shown to searchers. Google’s argument is that close variants will enable more searchers to find what they are looking for.

Will this Change Make a Difference?

As always, the SEM community is up in arms about the change, as it is with any change that Google makes. However, the facts are that it won’t make any difference to the vast majority of advertisers, since the default position has been that close variants are allowed for a couple of years. What Google is doing, is to disallow advertisers the option to opt out of close variants.

In fact, it is estimated that only 3% of advertisers had selected that option (see:

images (1)AdWords Misspelling 

Furthermore, Google state that their figures show that 7% of searches contain mis-spellings, and that the change will ensure that searchers get the ads they were expecting to see. Jen Huang, Adwords product manager, says in a blog that the change will actually benefit those advertisers who previously opted out, since the change will mean that their ads will be seen by an increasing number of people and that ads will be better targeted, meaning a reduced cost per click and a better CTR.

It also means that advertisers will not have to build huge lists of mis-spelled, plurals, and other variants of the keyword in order to get full coverage. Instead, Huang says, advertisers should concentrate on including negative keywords – and their close variants – that they do not want to match, thus reducing costs, while obtaining the traffic that they do want.

Double Relevant Clicks

E-commerce giant Shopify confirmed that adding variants such as “online shopping” to its’ main keyword “online shop” had doubled relevant clicks across exact and phrase match keywords, without any increase in cost per click. Shopify further commented that allowing close variations led to “high efficiency, high impact, and high relevance with our customers.”

Lead generation and software business Underground Elephant noted that, since implementing close variations with one of its’ clients there had been a 150% increase in relevant clicks. At the same time, those extra clicks had cost the client 10% less.

As always, whenever Google makes a change there are those who will not be happy. However, since Google can do pretty much what it likes, and the figures show that the change is better for all concerned, perhaps they will come round to Google’s way of thinking in due course.

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