Adwords Exact Match “Improvements” – Advertisers, Watch Your Wallets

If you’ve been following what I teach on pay-per-click advertising and Google Adwords for any length of time, then you already know how important “exact match” is to running a profitable campaign.

Google is rolling out some “improvements” to the way exact match and phrase match work on your search ads – by making them more broad. Yes, exact match will soon match for a lot more than just “exactly” what you want… which means you’ll soon also be paying for “close variants” – described thusly:

In addition to misspellings, other close variants include singular and plural forms, acronyms, stemmings (such as floor and flooring), abbreviations, and accents.

You can prevent this from happening – and I’ll explain below, you will also be able to rationally test this feature and see where it may actually help you. It is entirely possible that this change *will* help you – but YOU should be in control of that – not Google.

As we’ve come to expect from Google:

  • These changes will happen by default – if you don’t turn it off, it will turn itself on when it’s rolled out, because Google has the right to take more of your money if you don’t go out of your way to stop them.
  • The date when this will happen is given only as mid-May, because advertisers have no right to expect any *specific* information from Google.
  • There is a way to opt out, but hilariously, the section explaining how is in a closed fold on the help page. If you click the link that says “Choosing your exact match and phrase match options” on the page I linked to above, you can see the steps to disable this (opt out) in your campaigns.

So – step by step – my recommendations on how to Prepare for and Deal With this change in Adwords:

  1. Go into the Campaign Settings for any search campaigns you are running, and under Advanced Settings, for Exact and Phrase Match, choose the “do not include close variants” option. This will prevent Google from automatically enabling this new feature on your campaigns.
  2. Whenever Google rolls this out (they say mid-May 2012), you can test to see if it’s helping or hurting by using Adwords Campaign Experiments. If you didn’t know about ACE, now you do.
  3. Do keep a close eye on any campaigns where you are using ACE – the results can sometimes be worse than you expect on an experiment and you will want to quickly kill any experiments that are not yielding acceptable results.

In summary: Mid May. Big Adwords change. Deal with it before it deals with you. Hulk smash! Adwords Campaign Experiments lets you decide if the change is good for you or not. Watch Google like a hawk.

Thanks for reading!
Dan