Exact Match Close Variant Problems in AdWords—Is Your Money Being Wasted?

Exact Match Close Variant Problems in AdWords—Is Your Money Being Wasted?

Exact Match targeting in AdWords used to function exactly like it sounds. But with a peculiar change implemented in March 2017, advertisers started getting a lot more than they bid for.

Prior to the update, ads were only able to appear for “close variants” of Exact Match keywords, like subbing a plural for a singular or correcting a slight misspelling.

But with this latest change, AdWords is diminishing the effectiveness of this keyword strategy by allowing for “additional rewording and reordering for exact match keywords.”

What does that mean? And how does it affect your AdWords campaigns?

It means is that Exact Match targeting is now performing similarly to Broad Match or Broad Match Modifier and thus could be wasting your budget (which begs the question—why is Google still calling it “Exact Match?).

Regardless of what Google decides to call it, this change comes much to the chagrin of digital marketers who rely on the power of Exact Match targeting to ensure top positions in Search Engine Results Pages for their most profitable queries.

Competitive keywords means more expensive clicks, and sometimes budgets simply don’t allow for any unknowns.

Google assures that “tests show advertisers may see up to 3% more exact match clicks on average while maintaining comparable clickthrough and conversion rates.” 

Clicks and CTR, sure, but comparable conversion rates? Not so much.

In fact, one client was receiving a large amount of erroneous clicks from an Exact Match Close Variant—swapping the Exact Match keyword “electronic billing” with “electric bill”—which wasted a good amount of money.

These are obviously two totally different search intents, and conversion rates suffered for it.

Thankfully, by detailing the erroneous close variants and explaining how it fundamentally changed the search intent, we were able to secure an account credit refund for the client. And we of course added these close variants to the Negative Keywords list to prevent further wasted spend.

With liberal changes like that, we can’t help but imagine all of the other erroneous clicks advertisers may be paying for. And for all its good intentions, the sad truth is that updates like these take more money out of advertiser’s pockets than needed.

It takes a diligent marketer to find these issues before it blows through a budget.

Is your money being wasted?