On Friday, March 17, 2017, Google announced that “over the coming months we’re expanding close variant matching to include additional rewording and reordering for exact match keywords”. Google claim that you should notice more exact click matches.
But what does this mean for your business and your customers?
Expansion of Close Variants
When customers use Google to search for the service and products they need, you want them to find your business and website quickly. You do this by using the right keywords to reach your customers efficiently (without exhaustive keyword lists). So Google searches for ‘football boots’ and ‘boots for football’ are two examples of Close Variants: in this example, the customer is looking for football boots, even though their keywords are slightly different. Google claims “advertisers may see up to 3% more exact match clicks on average while maintaining comparable click through and conversion rates”. Whilst these keyword match types will control which searches can trigger your ad, there are several tips to improve SEO.
Google will now ignore word order and function words
When Google determines whether an ad should be triggered for an exact match keyword, it will now ignore function words like prepositions (under, in), conjunctions (and, but, so) and articles (the, a). For example in the search “banks in London”, the preposition “in” would be ignored as it doesn’t change the meaning of the keywords [Banks] and [London] and doesn’t affect the intention behind the query. However, a [flight from London] is different to a [flight to London], so the prepositions [from] and [to] would not be ignored in the Google search. However, it is important to note that these changes do not apply to phrase match keywords.
Word Reordering = same meaning, different order
Let’s look at an example of how two keywords can share the same meaning, but have completely different word orders. Google will now exact match queries that are different variations of your keyword: for example, [rent 3 bed house] and [3 bed house rent]. If the query changes the original meaning of the keywords, then your keywords will not be reordered to match with the query. For example, the keyword [PAD to LIV] shouldn’t match to the query [LIV to PAD]: Google should recognise that they are different destinations.
How can I prepare for the changes?
Google’s expansion of close variants removes any need for endless lists of exact match keywords. However, you will need to review Close Variants in your Search Query Reports. Are other variations being triggered? Will they be affected by these changes? If so, add those as negatives to your campaigns. Furthermore, you will need to review existing match queries and establish if the loss of function words or the words being reordered changes the meaning; if so, add those variations as negatives. You will need to increase your mining of Search Query Reports for close variants and update your scripts to help shape traffic and reduce costs.