Google rolled out a change notice that was difficult to miss. We have discovered over the years that when a change gets good notice, there is a good reason to study it. As we dig into the details we are finding that this could be a very dangerous change. Here is the posting in AdWords:
“New! Improvements coming to exact match and phrase match
Target your ads better. In mid-May, our improved exact match and phrase match options will include misspellings, plurals, and other close variants of your keywords.”
If the documentation on this new and improved feature is accurate, this moves the match rules much closer to broad keywords.
Here is what Google documentation says about Broad Match keywords:
“Your ads could also show for singular/plural forms, synonyms, and other relevant variations.”
Here is what they say about the Improvements to Exact Match and Phrase Match:
“ In addition to misspellings, other close variants include singular and plural forms, acronyms, stemmings (such as floor and flooring), abbreviations, and accents.”
It stands to reason that “Other Relevant Variations” and “Close Variants” are the same thing. It is also interesting that they do NOT mention the treatment of word order in any of this. Our hope is that word order remains a matching requirement. Does omission from the documentation mean that it does not change? This is one of those things that we will probably learn only with testing.
If Google does exactly what they say in their documentation, which does not always happen, then this feature effectively makes everything a broad term with the exception of word order. In fairness, we expect that there will be some difference between broad and improved exact or improved phrase but it is probably more like the difference between broad and modified broad keywords.
What is not clear from the documentation is how this is going to roll out. If Google follows their historical pattern, this will become the default value on new campaigns but they will not just roll your account over to this setting. We suspect because this is such a big change, that the push back could be huge if they set this to an opt-out feature. After the change is in place, I am giving odds this will be the default value. Do no evil does not mean do not make a profit. Ultimately, Google is a company with shareholders not all of which totally buy the do no evil thing. This is a multi-billion dollar feature for Google and I suspect they smart enough to know that.
Our plan is to watch very carefully how this rolls-out and if necessary opt-out. We will then carefully test this so we can adjust the settings to our client’s advantage. It may be a very positive change, but we would like to know that before we allow this into current accounts.