The Friday News Dump, while it is most notorious in the news world, it can be applied in several different places, in fact Google engaged in their own Friday News Dump last week.
While a large portion of the population was distracted with March Madness and or celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, Google quietly released some information on a change that will necessitate additional vigilance on the part of advertisers everywhere.
Historically, Exact Match keywords are only supposed to show when the person searches for something that Exactly Matches the search that was performed on Google. Previously, Google had loosened this to where it now includes “misspellings, singular forms, plural forms, acronyms, stemmings (such as floor and flooring), abbreviations and accents.” We had concerns about this when it became publicly known that this would not be optional.
Our initial takeaways from this are as follows:
1 – Same meaning different order is a bigger cause for concern than Rewording and ignoring function words
The first example cited by Google was the addition, removal or change of function words such as in, the, for, etc. If the update to the close variants was limited to this scope, our concern would be much more limited.
However, this seems to be the opening act for the fact that the exact match setting will no longer take word order into consideration. In many cases, a two word phrase can have a very different context based on the order that they are placed in. Historically, the point of Exact Match is to only match for words when presented in that exact order and this change opens up the door for Exact Match keywords to act more like Broad Match Keywords.
2 – Google says “early tests show advertisers may see up to 3% more exact match clicks on average while maintaining comparable clickthrough and conversion rates”
The way this claim is worded, the first thing that strikes us is a lack of confidence “may see up to 3%” in the already modest claims. While common sense and logic would dictate that loosening the exact match settings are naturally going to lead to more impressions (and more clicks) this says nothing about the quality of these clicks (which would likely decrease) and we are highly skeptical of something that loosens the keyword matching settings to actually increase overall conversion rates.
3 – Search Terms Report becomes more important than ever
One of the AdWords basics is to review the Search Terms Report to see which searches are matching to your ads for the purpose of seeing if there are new keyword ideas worth exploring or whether there are certain searches that need to necessitate expanding your negative keyword structure to help control for the quality of traffic.
With the definition of Exact Match Keywords being updated, the Search Terms report and expanding your Negative Keyword base based on the searches that are being matched through close variant matching will be more important tomorrow than it is today.
The world is always changing and the speed of changes is much faster in Google AdWords than it is for the rest of the world. Just like being a parent, this is the fun part but also the part that keeps us on the edge of our seats on a daily basis. While we have concerns with the expansion of the Close Variants setting, these are concerns that can be mitigated by being extra vigilant in analyzing the searches being matched to your keywords.