Close Variants Exact Match rules

By Paul Morris

From late September Pure Exact Match for AdWords will be no more with close variants being the default Exact Match option.

So in essence all Exact Match bidding will include close variants. i.e. keywords will, by default, also trigger misspellings, accents, singular/plural forms, acronyms and abbreviations.


Some exact match lovers will recoil in horror. The change limits control over very specific search queries. Some question the motives behind the change i.e. could it have been enabled to swell Google coffers. And finally some accounts could see a slight dip in ROI due to the bidding match type precision removal.


However I’m not really seeing the big issue myself.

Whilst it could cause issues in certain cases (examples taken from Search Engine Land):

•             [cardiology] => [cardio]

Query: “cardio prevention program”

Keyword: “cardiology”

•             [fire] => [firefighter]

Query: “german fire helmet”

Keyword: german firefighter helmet”

•             [surgery] => [surgeon]

Query: “cosmetic plastic surgery anaheim”

Keyword: cosmetic plastic surgeon anaheim

…It will aid voice search for those related conversions you hadn’t thought of before and for the much vaunted Hummingbird keyword world (I will believe it when I see it). The above examples affect the minority of searches. The change stops your PPC team focusing on minor account efficiencies e.g. misspells and instead leads to reduced account complexity and the team focusing on bigger issues that will drive your KPI’s. And finally you can, to a large degree, solve this with negative matching’s.

So whilst not a particularly welcome change, and you can question the motives behind it, there are advantages to this enablement and it should only affect around 3% of old skool exact match protagonists anyway (stat: WordStream).

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