How To Adjust Your Google Ads Management to Adapt for Close Match Variants in 2017

How can you as an agency adapt your Google Ads management for the new close match changes coming to Google? Find out from white label PPC provider InvisiblePPC.

Google recently announced that close variants now connect more people with what they’re looking for on the Google Ads Blog. (Another great blog to follow!)

Can You Explain Close Match Variants?

For those who aren’t familiar with what close match variants are, here’s a brief history on what they mean for your Google Ads management process. Google doesn’t look at the exact match keyword you want to bid on as an exact match specifically. For example, if you tell Google that you only want exact matches of the phrase “white label PPC” then it serve ads for anyone searching for “white label ppc” but also can make the intuitive decision to show your ads for “white labeling ppc” or even typos like “whit label ppc” or “white label ppcs”

Google uses the logical assumption that if someone’s search query is a close variation of your keyword, then it makes sense to show an ad for your keyword. Originally this was an optional setting, and Google reported an average 7% more clicks on exact and phrase match keywords when in 2014, close match variants became the default setting.

Today’s Close Match Variant Changes

Google already looks at similar versions (close match variants) of keywords such as dog and doggie as being similar enough in keyword matching, but now will expand that application of close matching to two things: function words and word order.

Function Words

These include: prepositions (in, to), conjunctions (for, but), articles (a, the), and conjunctions (and, but).

Google will now ignore these words and the meaning behind them, both adding, inserting and changing when it logically matches what the searcher seeks. For example, if the keyword were “white label ppc” then someone searching “white label for ppc” would still see the ad.

Reordering Keywords

Previously, if your keywords were re-ordered, such as in this example highlighted from Google Ads Help Center it would not trigger your ad to show.

Based on what we know [tennis shoes] will now trigger when someone searches “shoes tennis,” although Google assures us that the meaning of the search won’t change.

It’s important to note that word reordering won’t add any words to your keywords.Your keywords also won’t be reordered to match with a query when it changes the original meaning of those keywords. For example, the keyword [SFO to JFK] shouldn’t match to the query “JFK to SFO” because the destination is different.

For example, “stress free ball” should not, according to Google, match a search for “free stress balls”

Who this impacts:

  • English and Spanish keywords only to start
  • Other languages will follow throughout 2017
  • Search network only

What can you do to prepare for the close match variant changes?

Take a look at the keywords you are already targeting as exact match. This does not impact phrase match. Will any of the meaning be changed by a change in function word, or change in order of words? If you do, we suggest you proactively add those variations as negatives in your campaigns.

Run a Search Query Report for close variants

If you’re not already running search query reports as part of your recurring Google Ads management tasks and paying attention to close variants (we know we are!) then you should look at what has come up as “close variant” in the past by filtering for just close variants. Be sure to add a filter for just keywords that have not been added as well, so you can disregard close matches you already added to the campaign.
Now take a look at your negatives. Are there any keywords you have added here that you should add close variants of? Also be sure to update any scripts, bid rules, etc that are based on keyword match types. Moving forward once the change rolls out, expected in April, there are a few things you should expect.

Updates to Your Optimization Flow

Regularly review your Search Query Reports, if you are not already doing so.

Adding new keywords

Expect a lot fewer keywords to be added to accounts moving forward. Already we recommend not using keywords that fell under close match variants, like
  • Dentist
  • Dentists
  • Dentistry

Moving forward, you will only need one keyword, like local dentist near me, in the account to catch searches for:

  • Local dentist near me
  • Dentists locally near me
  • Nearby me local dentist
  • Dentist local near me

The good news

Google says early tests indicate advertisers could see up to 3 percent more exact match clicks on average while maintaining comparable click-through and conversion rates. Once the change is rolled out, it’s important to note the date and measure performance from it, to see if you see similar results.

If your accounts are being managed by InvisiblePPC, these changes are already being handled by your account management team. Outsourcing Google Ads management makes Google changes stress free.

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Avi Kumar
Avi took the Engineering Route to Marketing. He loves proving that all marketing is Scientific and not black magic. He is obsessed with finding efficient ways of doing things. He started at 17 from improving how to “Holystone” ship’s wooden decks efficiently as an apprentice on ships!