By Carrie-ann | Aug 29, 2014 | Adwords/PCC, Google news

Adwords Phrase and Exact Match Options to Change

The vast majority of Adwords accounts use something called ‘close variant’ targeting. It’s currently a campaign setting that’s switched on by default. Most people (unwisely) use the default settings without thinking to change them.  In real terms, it probably means many accounts spend more money than they need to on Adwords adverting. This is because their ads will show for irrelevant keywords. However it does make campaign set up and management much easier for non-experts. The downside is ROI is always poorer.

What’s Happening?

There’s now an interesting development from Google Adwords. Exact Match and Phrase Match are changing to include close variants. In future where will be no option to switch them off. The truth is most advertisers won’t notice a difference – they are spending too much anyway. But sophisticated advertisers and professionals managing accounts will want to make significant adjustments to ensure their ads only appear for the right searches i.e. are triggered only by target keywords.

Adwords advertising of course uses keywords at its heart, and I won’t be the last person to surmise that this development is likely to mean we are one step further towards the end of keywords. Adwords as of yet doesn’t operate on the same basis as Hummingbird, with advertisers still rewarded for using the target keyword in the advert.  But it is likely Google will want to make search capability across all its platforms the same. In the meantime, this development is a wake-up call to all Adwords’ Advertisers to review their account structure.

There are pros and cons to using the close variant capability as I have suggested above, but the bottom  line in my experience is you can never guarantee what words will trigger your ad. The problem is that small variations in keywords, perhaps just the addition of an s, can completely change the intent of a search. For example “Manchester house builder” and “Manchester house builders” probably refer to searches at different points in the buying process. It’s also possible Adwords doesn’t have a complete grasp of synonyms.

The question is if you continue to use exact [Manchester house builder] and phase “Manchester house builder” searches how can you best ensure there’s as little distortion as possible? And for those of you who don’t, why not leverage some of the benefits of this type of campaign structure? It’s true that a campaign run solely on this basis can be very complex – different ad groups for plural and singular terms, for example. In my view, we are getting close to a situation where business accounts need to run by experts, especially if you are working with a significant budget, to minimise wastage.

A Word of Caution

It is easy to get bogged down in keywords, especially if you have always run a keyword trap type structure using exact and phrase match settings to cover all variations of your target keywords.  Fine tuning landing pages and ad copy should not be forgotten as they are more likely to benefit a campaign than the addition of a new keyword. However, with this latest Adwords announcement we are now entering unchartered waters.

What Should You Do?

The change comes into effect in September.  All advertisers should take the opportunity to review their campaigns. Undermanaged accounts, those who have always used close variants (perhaps without releasing it!) need to determine if the effectiveness of their ads is being compromised by their ads showing for what amounts to irrelevant terms.

On the other hand, advertisers who prefer not to handle control over to Google, but rather continue with precision targeting need to start thinking about negative keywords. While negative keywords have always been a consideration I think we are now reaching a new level.  I can see a case for adding hundreds of negative keywords to campaigns.  A deep understanding of your customers’ searches is going to be more essential than ever. Getting expert help, will in my opinion, be essential.