Google Gives Marketers New Reason To Be Upset

By: Chris Crum - August 22, 2014

Google recently announced a change to its AdWords targeting options, which has not sat very well with many search marketers. What it ultimately boils down to is that Google is giving advertisers less options and less control over their keyword targeting preferences.

Do you think Google should give advertisers more control over their keyword targeting? Let us know in the comments.

Starting in late September, Google is applying close variant keyword matching to all exact and phrase match keywords. This essentially means that exact no longer means exact. Why would Google do such a thing? Well, here’s their explanation:

People aren’t perfect spellers or typists. In fact, at least 7% of Google searches contain a misspelling. And the longer the query, the greater the likelihood of a typo. But even if what they’ve typed isn’t perfect, people still want to connect with the businesses, products, and services they’re trying to find.

Whether it’s “kid scooters”, “kid’s scooter”, or “kids scooters”, people interested in buying a scooter for their child want to see the most relevant ads despite slight variations in their search query.

Close variant keyword matching isn’t new. It’s been around for roughly two years, and has even been included by default. There has, however, been a way to opt out. Most don’t opt out, but those who do, do so for a reason. They know what they’re doing. They’re generally experienced marketers who demand tight control over the keywords and phrases they’re targeting. Some of these people have been doing this for a long time.

Marketing Land recently published a round-up of tweets from search marketers frustrated with the change. Within these, the change is described as “a big middle finger to those sophisticated enough to use exact/phrase match campaigns.” That was a quote from A.J. Kohn, and tweeted by Moz founder Rand Fishkin.

Marketer Jennifer Slegg says on Google+, “Google AdWords advertisers are losing control of their keywords…This will mean higher CPC, lower CTR and it will very likely hit quality scores.”

WordStream’s Larry Kim writes, “At WordStream, we estimate that the change is a non-issue for approximately 97% of Google AdWords advertisers that didn’t opt out of close variant keyword match type option and who didn’t employ keyword “match type trap” optimization strategies. However the 3% who were using exact and phrase match the old fashioned way will most certainly be impacted by the change. And for the record, we see no reason for why they had to remove an optional feature.”

After weighing the pros and cons of using close variant keyword matching, Kim concludes that there are no benefits to forcing its use.

Google says those already using close variant matching are seeing an average of 7% more exact and phrase match clicks with comparable clickthrough and conversion rates. These clicks, Google says, represent valuable opportunities that would otherwise be missed.

Google backs up its claims with a few examples of advertisers praising the feature.

Shopify, for example says, “We’re passionate about achieving high efficiency, high impact, and high relevance with our customers. Having our keywords match to close variations allows us to do exactly that. Additional matches like ‘online shopping’ to the keyword ‘online shop’ resulted in a 100% increase in relevant clicks across exact and phrase match keywords–with cost per click remaining steady. What’s more, we’ve gained valuable time savings since manually adding misspelled keywords to our campaigns is now unnecessary.”

But still, it was already an option. Why force it on those that don’t want to use it? Either way, the option to opt out will be removed next month.

What do you think of Google’s decision? Big deal? Share your thoughts in the comments.

About the Author

Chris CrumChris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.

View all posts by Chris Crum
  • JH

    Google needs to just go away and everyone from the CEO to employees working in the mail room needs to live on the streets for awhile.

  • Guest

    Gone are the days were users decided what thay want to see. Today it’s Googgle who decides what you will see.

    • https://restore.solutions/ Numus Software

      Very true, however there is something new around the corner.. sounds ridiculous to even think it, as Google is so dominant.. but big companies always get blindsided!

  • Theron Williams

    YouTube video ads suck, Google Adwords marketing has changed so much no one I know who is doing it is seeing a return on investment.

    I can’t wait for FaceBook to become a real search engine now that will be a buyers market.

    Google AssWords Suck..

  • http://www.bloketoys.co.uk/ BlokeToys.co.uk

    There is a benefit to forcing this, for Google. Those unable to select their targeting in the way they have know what they are doing, and now Google will be scraping off more profit from them through less effective ads.

    This is a con. It might seem like a small number affected, but Google knows that this all adds up. Just a 1% increase in spending on Google ads around the world from this small minority of marketers affected could result in millions of $’s of profits for always-greedy-for-more Google.

    Just wait and see, there’s going to be plenty more of this going on as Google attacks every tiny marginal group it can to squeeze out another million.

  • Anon

    The tide is most certainly changing for Google.
    Go back just five years and you’ll see predominantly positive comments about Google on almost every blog post. Now, it’s 99% negative, with plenty of people demanding action be taken against this near monopoly.

    Google has definitely abandoned the old saying “Don’t be evil”. It’s perhaps one of the most evil and dangerous corporations on the planet right now, able to destroy millions of peoples livelihoods with one push of a button.

    Time for governments to start really working on this and finally end Google’s reign of terror.

    • cynical about google

      yes and thankfully the European parliament(s) are doing precisely this. The Germans are thinking of making Google a utility company which will tie them down in knots and European governments are showing concern at how much commerical real-estate Google now controls. One thing I am cynical about is why do so many US product sellers show up in search results conducted out of the US zone and where local companies supply the same products – in my most cynical moments I wonder if Google and the US goverment have some kind of a cosy relationship regards US exports. If I search for a small product and I am not in the US I probably want to buy it from someone in my own country and not from the US.

      • Kris

        Interesting what you say about search result showing more US companies. I am not surprised given Google’s connection with and funding from the CIA. It is the role of the CIA and most intelligence agencies to protect national security. Protecting national security includes protecting the nation’s business. I would expect that google, under the steering of the CIA, would seek to protect and promote US businesses ahead of other nations. So it is not surprising that search shows US companies in good positions.

  • gord68

    I quit them last year when their rules started getting out of hand.

  • J Brown

    Well it’s obvious what they are doing. They are trying to weed the budget conscious customers out and this is wrong. If they are so concerned with missed opportunities, they should look at their own organic search results first.

  • google stinks

    I hate Google but I have to use it for my adwords campaign. This is just another nail in the coffin as I am a user of exact matching and I know exactly what I am doing. This is nothing more than a cynical move by Google to make more money – its also the start of a slipperly slope, they wont stop here, they will take another bit away at another date.

    I am already twiddling my thumbs waiting for an alternative to Google adwords and as soon as it arrives I will jump ship just like millions of other Google haters – it will be too late for them to say sorry the poision is already in the relationship – millions of small business owners already hate Google and there will be little in the way of forgiveness when we finally have an alternative – Google has become too big, too powerful and too arrogant to be any bodies “friend” – I would actually pay 15% more for the same service from an alternative advertising venue just to be rid of Google and to be finally able to put my words into action – its worth money to me now – thats how much I hate Google!

    It will change when WE start demanding another search engine company by stopping use of Google.

    Here’s a tip – if you see an adword that interests you why not save the advertiser the cost of a click by tapping in the URL yourself instead of clicking or just use Google with the clues you read in the adword text – unless Google is actually spying on you they cannot tell you have done this so there is no way for them to assess how many people are doing this.

    • Kris

      Well the thing is Google IS spying on you. If you do a google search, see the adwords and type the page url, then google analytics detects you coming from a search for a particular phrase without having clicked from that search result. Easily detected. The whole internet is loaded with google analytics. You are tracked everywhere and all you do is known. Google hasn’t been about search for a very long time. What google is about is people profiling. Search is just a small part of that.

  • chrishirst

    Has everyone forgotten that Google is a business that exists for making money, it is NOT a benevolent benefactor for the world. If you don’t like how they change THEIR products the answer is simple, …. STOP using them!

    • Adrian

      And that actually is the correct answer. If all advertisers stopped using Adwords, even for a very limited period of time Google would have no choice but to change their approach. The problem of course is that many users don’t realize what is actually going on and how these “minor” adjustments from Google hit their pockets and their budget.

  • http://www.PalmSpringsHomesAndEstates.com Nancy Hankin

    Just one question I have. Does Google really care about anything we have to say? I don’t really don’t believe they do care, so I wonder WHY we bother to write about how we feel they treat the “little man” on the street…..meaning MOST BUSINESSES.

  • Fred1973

    Services of Google really suck since the last few months. Updates after updates and new requests by Google for websites. I am really having a tough time rank my webpages http://www.header.no/nettbutikk-betalingslosning/ I don’t why.

  • http://www.PalmSpringsHomesAndEstates.com Nancy Hankin

    Here is a thought I just had. Are any of you (meaning those with websites who depend on web traffic for business) letting your audience know you would strongly suggest they start using BING, because BING is far USER FRIENDLY to the majority of businesses trying to earn a living. Let them know about how all the BIG BOX companies who can afford to play the Google Game with Ad Words and Pay Per Click are squeezing the little businesses right OUT OF BUSINESS. Perhaps it’s time WE join together and WE start EDUCATING the Public thru BLOGS and we STOP whining and we DO SOMETHING about it? Just a thought.

  • Guest

    There are so many scumbag sites the violates trademarks and Google, Yahoo and Bing must stop them because their thieves who advertise under other people trademarked business names. The government should license websites and if they get caught violating trademark laws they should be fined, have their website taken offline and put in prison for ten years for their first offense. In addition no more privacy lock that protects the rights of criminals and if you own a website it must include your name, address, photograph, email and phone number. Doing this will put end to criminals on the Internet and criminals who have been caught cannot own a website.

  • Mark Lamendola

    The fist question to ask here is, “Why on earth are you sending Google money? Are you insane?” OK, that was two questions.

    JH nailed it: “Google needs to just go away and everyone from the CEO to employees working in the mail room needs to live on the streets for awhile.”

    But as long as people are supporting Google by paying for AdWords, that’s not gonna happen.

    Boycott, boycott, boycott.

    Until the psychopaths at Google understand what it’s like to have your business and your life destroyed, we are never going to get this evil company to behave. They just might get that understanding, or think they do, when ad revenue drops even a small amount. Let’s get it to do that. Anyone who is sending them AdWords dollars needs to stop that self-defeating behavior. This is what is fueling Google’s war against small e-tailers. Take away the fuel, you put out the fire. Pretty simple idea, and it works.

    Nobody complains about Bing, Yahoo, Duck Duck Go, etc., which all provide user experiences vastly exceeding in quality what Google provides. And these companies do not have an entire division devoted to snuffing out small e-tailers, as Google does.

    A world without Google in it would be a much better place. But a world with an ethical Google in it would be even better. Even just pinching the flow of those ad dollars may be enough to do it.

    We dropped our ad spend from several thousand a month to absolutely zero. Not one more cent for the e-terrorists at Google. If even half the folks posting on this forum did that, we might make an honest company out of Google. Wouldn’t that be sweet?

  • http://www.xhtmlchamps.com/ Markus Kameron

    You want money of your adwords campaigns, simply listen to what Google has to say. There is a perfect and logical explanation given to the change introduced! Like it or not Google dictates terms to web masters as of today.

  • http://adsonsearches.com/blog/ Subhakanta Swain

    ” People aren’t perfect spellers or typists ” totally agree with that.
    Google has not been playing so right these days. You just can’t force people to use as they wanted to but couldn’t because Google doesn’t want to. That option is Optional and should be optional.

    • Lujza

      Who wanted to opt in, could do so – their explanation is BS. That option is Optional and should be optional. Less experienced marketers will pay the most for this change, not right…

      • http://adsonsearches.com/blog/ Subhakanta Swain

        Absolutely right on that case.

  • MKW

    Google already corrects spelling and grammatical mistakes automatically and then presents ads targeting the correctly spelled search. So it is already helping these people who ‘aren’t perfect spellers or typists’.

    So there is no reason, OTHER THAN SCREWING THEIR CUSTOMERS FOR MORE MONEY, for doing this. Exact match would still work.

  • Kathy

    Just another way to make more money for Google!