Close Variant Matching and PPC
Once again Google has shaken the marketing community with the implementation of close variant matching to all phrase and exact match keywords. Starting in September, Adwords users will no longer be able to disable this option in their accounts nor will they be able to opt-out. I’ve been reading many blogs and posts about this over the past few days and I have also heard many things from many people in the marketing community as well as customers. Although most AdWords users have gone with the standard default, surprisingly enough there are quite a number who have not. Honestly, I have not always used it myself. There have been many occasions that I have opted out of using close variants with certain clients, or even within certain campaigns. Why did I opt out? Well, I wanted to have a real exact or phrase match campaign, so I could have the control and use the keywords I wanted and not close variants. If I had wanted those variants I would have included them in the campaign to start off with. Another reason that I would opt out is if I had a client that had a small budget, and we wanted to control costs more effectively. Having a stronger control on the keywords allows for more quality clicks which translate into lower costs. You cannot really achieve that degree of control with close variants. Despite some misgivings about the change it is going to happen regardless so the best thing we can do is prepare for it. Below are the three changes about the close variant change that you should keep in mind as well as what you need to know in order to prepare your ppc marketing campaigns ahead of time.
The Match Type Trilogy Is Gone
Paid search marketers all know the trilogy of AdWords match types, and what they mean. But now the thing is, phrase and exact match are no longer exactly phrase and exact. Having a “true” exact or phrase match is no longer going to be possible with this upcoming change. Close variant keyword matches will trigger keywords for not just singular and plurals, but for misspellings, acronyms, stemming, abbreviations and more. What Do You Need to Know: Start building out your negative keyword list – as in right now, immediately. Review your keywords extremely carefully and think about what terms you do not wish to show up for. This is crucial especially for stemming keywords – there can be many variations that can be matched against the root word. Once the variant change goes into effect, monitor your search query report report closely. Look at the terms for exact and phrase match variants, and determine if these terms should be included or added as negatives. Chances are most should be added as negatives but only you and you SQR will tell. Building a solid negative keyword list is key to all this – and maintaining it is going to be critical to controlling costs.
Your Volume Will Increase But So Will Your Costs
With close variant matching, you will definitely see an increase in your impressions and clicks, because your keywords will be matching against more keywords. Your keyword umbrella will have expanded significantly and you will be showing up for many more keywords. According to Google, close variant matching will give customers about 7 percent more exact and phrase match clicks. Automatically you are probably thinking that is great but hold on their tiger. With these additional clicks come more costs. And for smaller companies that have a limited paid search budget, excluding close variants helps to keep costs more controllable. What Do You Need to Know: If you have a small or limited monthly PPC budget, you will want to carefully watch your search query report to see what terms you are showing up for and as mentioned above in the previous point you will want to build out a strong negative keyword list to control costs. You will also want to monitor your account spend daily, and look for any new close variant matching keywords that could be attributing to this. Mine your SQR report for possible new keyword opportunities – this is important whether you are using close variant matching or not.
More Coverage – But You Will Need More Negatives
You might already be seeing the trend in this article but if not it certainly is important enough to bear repeating. Close variant matching will allow you to show for additional keyword variants, and possibly missed opportunities that you didn’t think of previously. However, if you are running a very targeted paid search campaign in which you want to show up for specific keywords, this could become a challenge. What Do You Need to Know: If you only want to show up for certain keywords, build out your negative keyword list to exclude those additional terms that you do not want to show up for. Check your SQR report daily to ensure you are matching for the keywords that you want to be matching for. While the close variant matching change may not impact everyone, it does impact our control level in paid search. And it does emphasize that change in AdWords is always a constant, and that we must be agile and adaptable in adjusting our account strategy to meet the changing environment.