Google has announced it will launch a new matching behavior for exact and phrase match keywords that will match close variants, including misspellings, singular/plural forms, stemmings, accents and abbreviations. Google is also making this new matching behavior optional and will be rolling out this option throughout the next few weeks. However, the actual matching behavior (should the advertiser opt in), will not go into effect until mid-May. In an effort to focus on user intent, Google believes these changes will be very beneficial for both users and advertisers.
What will change?
Currently, on exact match, an ad will only show when the exact keyword is queried. On phrase match, an ad will only show when the keywords are entered in their original sequence.
For example, if an advertiser is buying the term “black sneakers” on exact match and a user types in “black sneakers”, the user will be served an ad since the keywords are exactly the same. If the advertiser is buying the term “black sneakers” on phrase match and a user types in “running black sneakers”, the user will also be served an ad since the query is in the original sequence. However, if the user typed in “black running sneakers”, he or she would not be served an ad. Now with the new matching behavior, the user will be served an ad if he or she types in “black sneekers” or “running black sneekers”, because the exact or phrase match keyword will match to a misspelling.
In a perfect world, everybody would spell or type everything correctly every time they search for something. Reality is, when users are doing a quick Google search, they’re probably not thinking about spelling, grammar, or using proper punctuation. According to Google, at least 7% of search queries contain a misspelling and the longer the query, the higher the rate. Even if the query is spelled correctly, there are multiple variations, such as “children vitamins” and “children’s vitamin” or “booking flight” and “book flight”. It’s the same intent, but different queries.
Google’s organic searches already correct these close variations by matching to user intent. When I type in “cupcake recipie”, Google will detect my misspelling and will give me organic listings for “cupcake recipe”:
What This Means for Marketers
This new matching behavior would not only make advertiser’s lives much easier, but it can potentially increase traffic to the website.
Building out a comprehensive keyword list to include every slight variation of the same term can take a lot of time. So, having exact and phrase match terms matched to misspellings, singular/plural forms, stemmings, accents, and abbreviations will be a significant time saver. The new matching behavior will also increase relevancy among searchers since they’ll be served an ad that better reflects their intent, rather than to a specific word in their query.
For example, with the new matching behavior, if a searcher types in “black shooz”, they may receive the same ad below as they would if they were typing in “black shoes”:
Google conducted an early test measuring the impact the new matching behavior has on advertisers that get a third or more of their clicks from exact or phrase match. The overall results show that the new matching behavior increased AdWords search clicks by 3% with comparable CPCs. However, these results may vary by advertiser.
As I mentioned earlier, Google is also making this new matching behavior optional. So, the advertisers out there who would like to keep the current matching behavior the same for their campaigns can certainly do so.
Once these controls are rolled out, advertisers can log into AdWords and select the campaign settings tab. The keyword matching options will be found under “Advanced settings”.
The new matching behavior will not really affect advertisers who already have all the variations on their exact and phrase match keywords running in their campaigns, so long as they opt out of this change. However, if they want to switch it up and opt in, they should be prepared to see an increase in CPCs, as there might be more advertisers in the space should the query be a close variation of their exact or phrase match keyword. The new matching behavior could be good though for those who are missing out on potential traffic from these close variations and are willing to pay to get that traffic.
Another aspect to consider is the necessity of this change on individual campaigns. Advertisers build out exact and phrase match keywords to target a more niche audience, so it’s fair to say that traffic from those keywords are from more qualified users, as opposed to traffic from broad matched keywords. It’s hard to tell how much more niche an audience an advertiser can target if they’re already using exact and phrase match keywords.
But who knows, this new matching behavior sounds good in theory, but advertisers won’t know the real impact until mid-May, if they make the decision to opt in to this change.
For more information, visit the Google blog and read the official announcement.