Google Close Variant – A Match Made in Heaven?

Puzzle_Piece_KWFLast post, we discussed how Google’s matchmaking algorithm Close Variant Matching (CVM) brings search terms and paid ads together at auction as applied to the Phrase Match and Exact Match categories. Recent changes to Google’s ad-serving policy have the digital marketing world asking – Is obligatory CVM a match made in heaven? Or will it end in heartbreak for paid search managers?

Before dissecting pros and cons of Google’s new policies, let’s examine how to capitalize on the latest shift in paid search. Here are a few key takeaways:

  1. Rethink your campaign structure – Is your campaign poised to profit from Close Variant Matching? If not, it’s time for a change. Start by measuring your campaign results and optimizing for CVM’s inclusion of atypical spellings and abbreviations. An aside – Think Google Quality Score when building campaigns, too.
  2. Check your work – and often – Running Search Query Reports (SQRs) frequently can help you stay abreast of performance. The new norm of paid search management is closer monitoring.
  3. Boost your top performers – Find your best key terms and re-add them as “Exact Match” keywords. This will boost traffic on your hottest terms.
  4. Yank irrelevant traffic – Adding negative keywords will sift out irrelevant phrases, minimizing spend for ill-fitting keywords and stimulating your paid search program.

What’s the Verdict?
Now for the debate: Does Google’s mandatory matchmaking policy help or hurt paid search marketers? While not all AdWord auctions are the pairing marketers would hope, the verdict may differ between campaigns.

Most simply won’t notice the change. Why is that? Well, CVM has been around since 2012 and was always the default selection in AdWords. Most marketers had no reason to avoid Close Variant Matching, since it pulled in even more potential eyes to view their content.

The pros? Close Variant Matching could lift campaigns honed on Gen Y searchers, whose abbreviations and SMS acronyms already are the stuff of legend. They are less likely to complete a word or phrase in a search bar versus older citizens of the Web.

Another factor – the speed of communication and commonality of analytics-backed search suggestions are so commonplace, many don’t take the time (or *gasp* may not know how) to spell the names of specialized products correctly. Rather than leaving these queries in ad-serving oblivion, Google’s latest stance on bidding for keywords ensures compatible searches are served relevant ads.

There is a downside to the change as well. With less control comes a greater potential for error. Sometimes a match may ring true to Google, but not represent a qualified lead for your business. The only way to mitigate the impact of this possibility is to monitor closely your paid search campaigns for leaky keyword results.

To dig a little deeper into Close Variant Matching and its implications for your paid search program, be sure to read our last post and check out our in-depth article in Social Media Monthly.

Analytics Close Variant Matching

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