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Google AdWords to Universally Apply Close Variant Keyword Matching

Starting in late September, Google AdWords is applying close variant keyword matching, which it says is an intuitive way to connect consumers to the businesses they’re searching for, to all exact and phrase match keywords.

Since this functionality was introduced in 2012, Google says advertisers have seen strong results. A vast majority are already matching to close keyword variations and receiving an average of 7 percent more exact and phrase match clicks with comparable click-through and conversion rates.

In addition to increased keyword coverage, these incremental clicks represent opportunities that are missed by “low search volume” keywords, which are common for misspellings and abbreviations, Google says.

In fact, according to Google, at least 7 percent of searches contain a misspelling and this change will help ensure users get the ads they expect as often as possible despite those errors.

The move reflects AdWords evolving with Google organic search, especially with mobile and voice where the search engine will need to be able to recognize precise keywords and also match on platforms where words may be garbled or typos may be more common, a Google rep says.

Because close variant matching was already the default setting for campaigns, Jen Huang, product manager of AdWords, says in a blog post that most advertisers won’t see a change in keyword matching behavior. Advertisers that have opted out, however, will see the option to disable close variants removed.

“Your exact and phrase match keywords will then begin matching to close keyword variations, allowing you to reach more of your potential customers with the right ad while aiming to lower cost per click and improve click-through rate,” Huang says.

This means advertisers won’t have to build lists of misspelled, abbreviated, or other variations of keywords to get the coverage they want.

Instead, they should focus on adding negative keywords, including close variants they don’t want to match, to shape traffic and reduce cost, Huang says.

“This can improve your campaigns’ ROI and help deliver a better ad experience for your customers,” she adds.

For its part, e-commerce software provider Shopify says having its keywords match to close variations allows the brand to achieve “high efficiency, high impact, and high relevance with our customers.”

Plus, adding matches like “online shopping” to the keyword “online shop” resulted in a 100 percent increase in relevant clicks across exact and phrase match keywords with cost per click remaining steady, Shopify says.

Meanwhile, customer acquisition and lead management software firm Underground Elephant says that since implementing this feature with a client, it has seen exact match keyword clicks in the account increase by 150 percent with the additional clicks costing 10 percent less.

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