Last week, Google announced that, starting in September, it will be doing away with exact and phrase keyword match in Adwords. Instead, Google will be enabling what it’s calling, “close variant keyword matching,” a way to better connect users to what they’re searching for.

Say Farewell to Exact Match Keywords in Google AdWords | Small Screen Producer Digital and Inbound Marketing Agency Housto

What are Close Variant Keywords?

Close variants are keywords that are a close match to exact keywords. They can be the plural form a keyword or a keyword with a slight misspelling. Since close variant keywords is a feature that is already a default setting in Adwords, most advertisers won’t see a change in their keyword matching. For those advertisers who had opted out of this, the ability will do so will be removed come September. Your exact and phrase match keywords will automatically begin matching close keyword variations.


Is this Change Good or Bad for Advertisers?

Good! The new update will allow you to reach more of your target audience with the right ad. This will also lower the cost per click (CPC) and improve click through rate. With this update, you will not longer have to create long lists of different keyword variants that a customer may search for. And no longer will you have to bid for these different variations to get the coverage that you want. According to Google’s announcement, advertisers should “instead focus on adding negative keywords – including close variants you don’t want to match for to shape traffic and reduce cost.” This will result in improving campaigns’ ROI and deliver a better ad experience for users.

 Say Farewell to Exact Keyword Match in Google Adwords | Small Screen Producer Digital and Inbound Marketing Agency Houston

Will this Affect a Large Amount of Advertisers?

No. According to Wordstream, they estimate that the update will be a non-issue to about 97% of Google Adwords advertisers. But, for the 3% who were using exact and phrase match keywords will see an impact.

What were the Benefits for Opting Out of Close Variant Keyword Matching?

This option allows allows advertisers greater control over what exact words trigger their display ads. Knowing which keywords are favored over others provides advertisers with precise data on PPC traffic to maximize ad budget.

Any Downsides?

Yes. The stringent control and ROI requires increased account management. Account managers could be dealing with typically 10 million keywords. Optimization for ad campaigns and landing pages could be extremely exhaustive because of the different adwords groups that require attention.

Overall, this Google update (as with all other recent Google updates) seems to be shepherding the online world into more keywordless territory. For example, Google Hummingbird will show you content that may not even include keywords you’ve searched for. With close variant keyword matching, advertisers can expect to see a reduced amount of AdWords management and complexity of keyword lists. In addition, advertisers will benefit from a wider reach to target audiences and capture long-tail keyword searches, which would be impossible using exact keyword matching (unless you’re psychic or something).

For more information about PPC, see our other related posts.

Official Google announcement on this update
Originally reported by Larry Kim from Wordstream