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.