Either you are an AdWords professional or just barely getting your bearings in the worlds’ most popular PPC advertising network, 2014 has some interesting news for you. If the first day of September usually lets you know that the autumn is coming and children are going back to school, this September also means goodbye Exact and Phrase Match in AdWords. From now on they are replaced with their sisters that include close keyword variations.
Why now ?
It is not an absolute novelty, you have had the option to use it since 2012. Or, more exactly, the option not to use it, since Google set it as a default option for all the accounts using Exact and Phrase Match. The close variations option was set in place to help AdWords clients who had a tough time getting over the security of Exact match keywords, and were losing traffic and ROI by ignoring singular and plural variations, misspellings, abbreviated forms, acronyms, accents and stemming’s.
Trying to include all that in an Exact Match list is incredible difficult and inefficient, especially for large accounts. You could say that Google used it as a default push towards a more flexible, efficient and user adapted way of approaching its ad network. And now it will no longer give you a choice.
What does it mean ?
What Google has chosen to do technically this September is to eliminate the possibility of opting out close variants approach for Exact and Phrase Match. They now will include by default misspelling, singular, plural and all the other associates forms. Wordstream.com approximates that the change will not make a fuss since only 3% of the users still opt out this option. The rest of 97% will not even feel the difference. But still, a little bit of control gets taken away from us.
And the effects are
Beyond the care for its clients, Google uses this move to get rid of the interminable Exact Matching lists used by some accounts that were cluttering the system. It also tries to move along the present trends in online searching behavior, meaning long-tail keywords and covering the large variety of keywords people are naturally using in search engines. Obviously, with this change Google takes away a little bit more of your control on how you spend your money in AdWords and forces you to include keywords that you might not consider useful.
What now ?
But don’t despair, you still have negative keywords at your disposal. Since you cannot choose any more if plurals are okay for you, or if abbreviations do you more harm than better, use the back door and set up your negative keywords list.
Rarely used at its fool potential and mostly by the experienced professionals, the negative keyword list is not as hard to set up as you might think. Mostly, besides brainstorming your list the same way you are defining the normal keywords, you need to give yourself a tuning period to follow your keywords results, and just exclude those who are not relevant enough for you campaign.
Google has made changes before, far more radical than this, always in the name of quality, efficiency and dedication to their users. And yes, the world of Internet including PPC advertising revolves around Google and its changes, but it revolves adapting and answering promptly to each and every challenge.