Google Quietly Changes Match Types

April 18, 2012  |   Posted by :   |   PPC,SEO   |   2 Comments»

Google posted this article to their Adwords blog yesterday, stating:Google's Policies on Match Types

Starting in mid-May, phrase and exact match keywords will match close variants, including misspellings, singular/plural forms, stemmings, accents and abbreviations.

This is important news for search professionals – PPC and SEO (yes SEO, keep reading).

For PPC Professionals, this means:

  • Sometime in Mid-May, your accounts will all be defaulted to the new match types. Yes, defaulted:

In the coming weeks, we’ll begin rolling out controls which will allow you to adjust your keyword matching options. Once they’re live, log in to AdWords and select the campaign settings tab. Under “Advanced settings” select Keyword matching options:

 

  • It’s not clear how this will affect DKI (Dynamic Keyword Insertion). If an exact match keyword will trigger misspellings, wouldn’t you now have the potential to have those misspellings show up in your Ad Copy? We’ll have to wait and see (or if you know, post in the comments!)
  • For advertisers that primarily rely on exact match keywords, you’ll now have an entire universe of negative keywords you need to add to all of your Ad Groups, unless of course you change the default.
  • It’s not clear what constitutes a “close variant”. You’ll need to check your campaigns religiously (of course you should already) for these variants that might cost you a ton of money but not be relevant.
  • Google says that their test advertisers have been happy with the new match types, but there’s no telling how this might affect your company. So be prepared to test, test, and test some more to get it right.

One thing that is always true with Google – when they decide to roll out something new, they may allow you to return to the old way for a while, but eventually, you’ll be forced to accept it as the new normal. We’ve already seen it happen with other products, such as GMail.

For SEO Professionals, this affects you too:

Many of you (including me) use the Google Keyword Tool as one of your sources of keyword research. While the search volumes displayed are definitely only estimates, looking at the volumes in a relative sense can be useful for determining how to phrase a certain bit of content, or what keyword is more important to include in a Title tag. But I must remind you… the Google Keyword Tool is an Adwords Estimator. So any changes to Adwords are going to affect these values as well.

  • If you have any reports that include search frequency – even as a relative value – these numbers will need to be updated.
  • The exact match volumes will be more inaccurate than ever, since they’ll include misspellings, common variants, and singular/plural.
  • The phrase match volumes are going to become a total farce… you will no longer be able to get values for all keywords that contain a certain phrase, because that phrase will be subject to “common variants”, and you won’t know what those are.
  • Google Webmaster Tools data is going to become more important to you for this reason – you’ll be able to get more accurate (although many may argue still not completely accurate) estimations of traffic volume by looking at the number of impressions your site has for a given keyword (if it’s ranked on the first page)

In short, these changes have the potential to muck up our already very busy lives, so be sure to plan for it. Sometime in Mid-May. Hopefully they’ll give us a more accurate date soon, since it’s going to muck up all our Analytics keyword data too.

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2 Comments for this entry

  • erikeric

    May 9th, 2012 on 9:40 am

    Good points. I personally feel that this ultimately doesn’t matter because Google will be correcting people’s keywords, perhaps automatically. Plus, misspellings of a given keyword phrase represent part of the true volume of searches.

    • jennyhalasz

      May 9th, 2012 on 11:58 am

      Thanks, I think Google “correcting” searches is the ultimate problem here. By the way, misspellings of a given keyword phrase are NOT currently included in the volume of an exact match, but likely will be once this change rolls out.