AdWords is ending exact match. Here's a script to stop 'close variant matching' and keep exact match...exact.

Every so often, Google announces a change to AdWords that has significant consequences for account management.

Last year the big shift was the introduction of Enhanced Campaigns, the main element of which was the merging of desktop and tablet targeting settings and the loss of the ability to exclusively target mobile devices.

Now we’re on the cusp of Google’s latest alteration going live: the removal of strict exact keyword matching.

Within the settings for each campaign lies the option for exact and phrase keywords to “Include plurals, misspellings, and other close variants”.

This toggle will be removed before the end of the month. Enabling this feature allows AdWords users to easily acquire more traffic without having to go through the arduous process of building out the account to add in every plausible variation of the core keywords.

Or, to look at it another way, removing the option to exclude close variants prevents the more thorough agencies and managers from having total control over the contents of their accounts. 

 

There is a major downside in this fast-approaching change: the extra impressions won’t always come from relevant search terms.

One of our clients is JustPark. We opened up the keywords in its account to close variants over the course of a recent weekend and checked in on the following Monday to examine the effects.

Our concerns had proved correct. Among the search terms triggering ads were 'richmond park' and 'gunnersbury park', which were stemming from 'richmond parking' and 'gunnersbury parking' phrase match keywords respectively.

Clearly there is a significant difference in the keywords and the search terms here. Someone searching for Richmond Park is likely to be interested in the area of 955 hectares that goes by that name, rather than a place in the area to leave their car.

Not to be outdone by this unwelcome development, we have written an AdWords script which will allow us to maintain the kind of control to which we have become accustomed. It isn’t particularly complicated.

The script looks up the search terms which have been matched to our keywords on a 'close variant' basis and adds them as negative keywords, either at campaign or ad group level.

The result is that as those close variant search terms are excluded, the only terms for which our exact keywords should appear are those to which the keywords match exactly.

We can’t force Google to undo this change, but with this workaround you can ensure that exact keywords can continue to live up to their name. 

You can download the full script from our AdWords scripts library. We’ll also follow up in the next few days to explain the script line by line as part of our Econsultancy scripting series.

Park image credit: Graeme Newcomb

Daniel Gilbert

Published 22 September, 2014 by Daniel Gilbert

Daniel Gilbert is CEO at Brainlabs Digital and a contributor to Econsultancy. You can connect with Daniel on LinkedIn

12 more posts from this author

You might be interested in

Comments (7)

Comment
No-profile-pic
Save or Cancel
Avatar-blank-50x50

Scott Davis

Have you checked this script with Broad Match Modified?

I got confirmation last week (even though I'd been complaining about it for 6) that Google broke Broad Match Modified when they rolled this change out universally. (Broad Match Modified being exempt from close variants, plurals & misspellings).

That being... I don't target with Exact or Phrase match at all, and this change is hosing my accounts. I had to add 15 Spanish negative keywords to combat the Spanish clicks Google was selling me.

almost 4 years ago

Daniel Gilbert

Daniel Gilbert, CEO at Brainlabs

Hi Scott,

I haven't because I was under the impression that BMM would pick up close variants anyway? (i.e. I always thought the Close Variant option on BMM was moot?).

To your question, there's absolutely no reason the script shouldn't work on BMM campaigns - it will look for 'close variant' matches and add them as negative exacts.

Spanish clicks is a new one - totally nuts!

almost 4 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Michael Bilodeau

Daniel,
Great article. Thank you for posting this work around.

We too have noticed a lack in control over some of our accounts since AdWords has made this mandatory.

However, it was our understanding that misspellings and close variants would apply to negative keywords the same as positive keywords. In other words, if Google is treating Park and Parking as essentially the same, isn't it possible you could block traffic to the Park keyword by making Parking a negative?

The same goes for instances where we actually want to bid on 2 different keywords within the account. For example, we want to bid on both Dentist and Dental in different campaigns with different ad copy, different landing pages, different budgets, and different max cpcs. AdWords applies a close variant to them and is showing our Dentist Ads when the user was searching on Dental because quality score was higher. We feel a negative keyword in this case would severely hurt traffic since we actually want to bid on both keywords.

almost 4 years ago

Daniel Gilbert

Daniel Gilbert, CEO at Brainlabs

Hi Michael,

Unsurprisingly Google are much more conservative in their application of negative matches, so a negative exact really is a negative exact.

Regarding your second paragraph - this is where a strategy to use negatives to funnel traffic would be useful. So if you split your campaigns into two, one for Dentist and one for Dental, then you could use "dentist" as a negative phrase for the later and vice versa. That way you make sure that the right campaign/keyword picks up the right query.

If one has a higher Quality Score then you need to work on structure and ads - a negative keyword might hurt but not if you fix the relevancy.

almost 4 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Depesh Mandalia, CEO & Founder at SM Commerce

Hi Daniel. Had a look at the script. Looks useful,but the actual script screenshot on your site suggests it simply loads exact matched terms and adds those to negatives, not close variants? Can you clarify? Also would you'd recommend scheduling this weekly?

almost 4 years ago

Daniel Gilbert

Daniel Gilbert, CEO at Brainlabs

Thanks Depesh. That's just a screenshot of the first part of the script - if you download the complete script you see the next step is to pull all the close variants.

I'd actually recommend running this daily on the last 7 days data then it will be more up to date!

almost 4 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Depesh Mandalia, CEO & Founder at SM Commerce

I see - will take a look at it soon, thanks for the feedback. Daily makes sense.

almost 4 years ago

Comment
No-profile-pic
Save or Cancel
Daily_pulse_signup_wide

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Digital Pulse newsletter. You will receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.