In August Google announced and I think also before: Close variant matching for all exact and phrase keywords with the message:

That’s why starting in late September, we’re applying close variant keyword matching, an intuitive way to connect people with the businesses they’re searching for, to all exact and phrase match keywords.

In practice it means that you will not able to block spelling mistakes by using the match types Exact or Phrase but only by making spelling mistakes as Negatives. In a way it makes sense but as an AdWords user you are little but more limited to really fine tune your campaigns (as spelling mistakes in Google AdWords will never be 100% perfect).

In practice probably you will get a very little more clicks and hopefully also very little more conversion 🙂


Anyway such a changes are a good moment to review your AdWords keywords strategy with the last advice’s from Google.

So here we go. The base is the Google AdWords Whitepaper “Keywords to the Wise” which was mentioned in blogpost .

The full title of the Whitepaper is:
Keywords to the Wise – Cultivating Demand with Keyword Strategies

It is divided in the following steps:

  1. Align Keywords with Your Business Goals
  2. Manage Match Types for Growth and Control
  3. Find New Targeting Opportunities
  4. Expand the Reach of Existing Keywords
  5. Refine Your Traffic with Negative Keywords

The steps are general but it is the good way to setup your strategy.

A checklist for keywords & targeting

Align Keywords with Your Business Goals
1. Think holistically about the different ways that customers could reach you.
Why: Your keywords should reflect all of the different types of user queries that could help someone find you when they’re looking for something you offer.

2. Align your keywords and their management with your overall business goals.
Why: Different keywords have different purposes, and they should be held accountable to the goal that most aligns with their purpose.

3. Delete your low search volume keywords.
Why: Reduce clutter. If keywords aren’t going to drive any traffic for you, there’s no need to keep them around.

My feedback:
It is the right and basic approach. Do not forget to define clear and measurable goals. Keywords you can grab from your website, your product, your brand (very important if you have a brand) and your competition. Except your competition, it is all made by “your company”. With competition it is ” easy” to copy, you should do as it has value.

But Google AdWords is actually a tool to read the brains of the Google user (so almost everybody). Detect their behavior and provide the answer which should be your companies solution (like a products or service). So you may find interesting keywords by detecting:

  • What is the question of the Google user so you can provide an answers in the Ad and Landingpage
  • What is the problem of the Google user so you can provide a solution (so product, service etc)

Maybe you should even go a step back and try to engage the Google User to your solution. Let him get in contact with your solution, answer more questions and solve more problems in time and nurture your potential client.

Manage Match Types for Growth and Control
4. Use broad match to capture long tail queries, reserve exact match o for your primary volume and value drivers.
Why: Maximize coverage on queries relevant to your business while keeping account management reasonable.

5. Don’t create minute variations of phrase/exact match keywords.
Why: Phrase and exact match types expand to cover close keyword variations, so you don’t need to worry about creating additional keyword clutter in your account.

My feedback:
It is a very interesting fact that 15% of queries each day on Google haven’t been searched before. Google suggested to use a broad match type but I would advice to start with phrase match type and use broad match type with close variants to experiment if you have a reduced budget.

Google detects Semantic vs. Syntactic as Broad vs Phrase or Exact, I would say:
Semantic is for experimenting with Phrase or Broad in the close variants
Syntactic can be used with in Exact to drive traffic with High Value Keywords.
After you get feeling with Phrase match type in the experimental way you may move it to Syntactic to drive traffic but you need monitor it well and add negatives especially with keywords that have more meanings.

Find New Targeting Opportunities
6. Use Dynamic Search Ads to streamline account management.
Why: Avoid the need for continual updates to your keyword lists every time you make a change to your site.

My feedback:
I see the use of Dynamic Search Ads as an (risky) experiment. In practice we never tried as it seems to better to experiment more controlled. The use of Dynamic Search was meant for small advertisers who don’t want to spend extra time or money.

Expand the Reach of Existing Keywords
7. Maximize the presence of your keywords by improving their Ad Rank.
Why: Adding new targeting options isn’t the only way to grow volume. A more aggressive bid coupled with higher quality ads can drive volume on existing keywords.

8. Extend your reach to users that aren’t on by targeting search partners.
Why: Get more volume from the same set of keywords in your account.

My feedback:
Improving Ad Rank is always good but in practice difficult if there are all kind departments like marketing, sales, IT etc involved to change for example the landingpage. Besides Ad Rank is strongly dependent of Quality Score. We tested a lot with this metric in the past and it is hard to influence it. It even looks the influence is not that big on the bid. Bidding on cost per click works the best but you need to monitor it well as search behavior can change drastically and unexpected based for example news or other external factors.

But left or right, relevance of keywords, ads, landingpage, website and conversion (page) is where it is all about. If you want to grow you need to expand your reach by higher bidding and budget and/or expanding keywords. Now you have estimated clicks with x% of increasing bid which makes the bid simulator superfluous.

Search partners increases the reach but lowers the quality. If you can earn it back, you can use it.

Refine Your Traffic with Negative Keywords
9 Make negative keyword additions a regular part of account maintenance. Use the Keyword Planner or your search terms reports to find the most impactful negatives.
Why: Save money by avoiding clicks from people that aren’t going to become customers.

10. Just like your main keywords, focus negative keyword management on the places that will do the most good.
Why: Your account’s health depends on adding impactful, not exhaustive, negatives.

My feedback:
Negatives are very important because you can experiment with broad or broad closed variants. To manage negatives is time consuming. Working with exact and phrase macth requires less time for managing negatives.

If you are interested to get some review on your AdWords campain then please leave me a note in the contact form of the ContentForces website (scroll down).

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