Diluted Exact Match Keywords

23 March 2017 | | Pay Per Click

In the world of “fake news”, it seems at first glance, as though Googles latest Adwords update leans toward the obscure, and possibly the misinterpretation of meaning.

The update is to the way Google Adwords delivers results for “exact” match keywords. There have always been close variants of an “exact Match” keyword, allowing for plurals, typos, abbreviations, adverbs etc (“dentist near me”/ “dentists near me”) to be taken into account, mitigating the need to write extensive plural versions of keywords.

But, this update goes further to broaden close variants to include word order and function words. 

Google is increasingly trusting it’s machine to learn and feels they are now at a point where advertisers can hand over a fairly rudimentary keyword list and then let the algorithm take over. Google has tested the extended close variants function, and they indicate that advertisers could see up to 3 percent more exact match clicks on average maintaining comparable click- through and conversion rates.

The update in more detail 

(courtesy of Ginny Marvin, at Search Engine Land)

There are many cases in which variations can change the meaning of a keyword. Take a recent example of [pancake mix] being matched to a search for “pancake mixer.” Those are not the same thing. However, there are many cases in which variations don’t change the meaning at all. Here are the nuts and bolts of how these changes are meant to work:

Function words

Function words are binding words phrases and sentences like the and that, conjunctions like and and but, prepositions, pronouns, quantifiers like all and some, modals like could and would and auxiliary/hedging verbs like be or might or will.  Essentially, they are words that don’t have meaning on their own. Well, hmmm, unless by will you mean a legal document.

With this change, function words may be ignored, replaced or added.

For example, the exact match keyword [dentist london ] could match to the query “dentist in london.” More examples from Google:

Word order

Notice in that last Miami cruise example, the function word changed along with the word order. Word order often doesn’t make a difference (in English), and users often don’t use natural word order when searching even though the intent is the same. Take a keyword like [teacher gift ideas]. The meaning doesn’t change with [ideas gift teachers] or [ideas teacher gift]. You’d never say either of those out loud, but the intent is clearly the same.

When word order is changed, Google says it will not add words to keywords (though it may change function words as shown in the Miami cruise example above).

Exceptions

One of the biggest concerns from advertisers will be whether Google matches queries to keywords that don’t have the same meaning. Google stresses it will not change word order or function words in exact match when it understands changes would alter the meaning of the query.

Take the case of a query like “LAX to JFK flights.” The user obviously doesn’t want to see ads for “JFK to LAX flights” or for “LAX from JFK flights.” That’s a pretty straightforward scenario for Google to recognise.

But something like [android compatible] does not mean the same thing as [compatible android]. Maybe Google will know, maybe it won’t, at least not right away.
These changes do not apply to phrase match keywords. And AdWords is still designed to prioritise matching identical keywords to identical search queries.

Google’s philosophy is: Spread a wider net, and then filter out what you don’t want, rather than build a net that might not be big enough to catch everything you want. Better to waste money on some bad keywords than to miss out on some potentially good ones.

Often this approach works. And it certainly works much more often than it did even a few years ago. It’s the rare person who misses building out endless iterations of keywords, but many will feel the pendulum is swinging too far in Google’s favour with this change. It strips more control from advertisers and puts the onus on them to say what queries they don’t want their ads showing up on rather than what they do want.

There are financial implications to putting the emphasis on building out lists of negatives. Inappropriate variations are often discovered only after an advertiser has paid for wasted clicks and the variation shows up in a search query report. Precision control is being ceded to the machines.

Dental Design will be monitoring the update and looking out for increased exact match clicks amongst our Google Adwords Campaigns.

Contact the team on 01202 677277 to discuss the impact of Google’s latest Adwords update.

 

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