Recently, Google has announced a fresh round of updates on how close variant search queries will operate. In September 2018, ads could already be triggered for exact match keywords by queries with the same, or similar, meaning. However, with the new updates, close variants having the same sense or meaning might also affect broad modified and phrase match keywords. This means that ads will be provided in response to queries and that it interprets as sharing the same meaning on these two groups of keywords.
How will this affect the advertisers? Well, those advertisers for whom budget is not a problem may not be affected much. These big advertisers can even benefit from this update as now they can become visible for more search terms without having to go through the hassle of adding a large number of keyword variations. That statement may be a reach, but assuming that these additional terms are not already in your negative keyword lists, it just may very well be true.
This update will have a significant effect on two types of advertisers: those who are limited by their budgets and those advertisers who need to target exact keywords because of the industry that they belong to. These updates will create new challenges, but at the same time, new opportunities will also arise. To stay at the top of their game, advertisers should make themselves aware of both these aspects.
What to Watch? – The Challenges
The Expenses Could Increase
Experts have suggested that these changes may cause irrelevant and invalid traffic on accounts that are not being managed and monitored actively. This means that the budget may rise by as much as 20% while most of the traffic is irrelevant to the conversion action.
A significant number of Google Ads users have seen their spending being wasted and generating irrelevant traffic which is a severe concern for many business owners. A substantial portion of this traffic is either bot activity or clicking activity from the competitors. This means that achieving targeted niche traffic will only be getting tougher moving forward.
Wasted Impressions on Useless Search Terms
If you are one of those consultants that use “target impression share bid strategy”, then you might need to rethink this as this may affect your impression share metric.
Impressions from now on might include ads that are activated through keywords with the same or similar meanings, unless you have them listed as negative as I mentioned earlier. I think the big issue here is how much impression share are we going to give up from the actual keywords we are targeting in order for Google to serve ads for terms that they “feel” share the same meaning. It’s important now, more than ever, to consistently monitor your Search Query Reports and update your negative keyword lists.
Revisiting / Reviewing Irrelevant Keywords
One of the irregular challenges comes from keywords that you had previously running but are now paused. It has been experienced that Google Ads has shown keywords that you may have targeted in the past, but since paused. This is because these terms are relevant to the keywords that are still running… Google may still deem them to be similar, or the same in meaning. This means that all those ads whose keywords were historically considered to be poor performers might work now or could still be a big threat to your marketing budget.
- Less time for building negative keyword lists by monitoring your search term reports.
All PPC managers should be analyzing SQRs daily. However, spending time every day on excluding search terms which the advertiser doesn’t want, is time consuming and takes away the time that can be well spent on other campaigning aspects such as optimization and management.
Experts widely believe that these current changes in keyword targeting will significantly increase clicks and impressions across all campaigns. Because of this, agencies are having to allocate additional resources to track negative keywords across all Campaigns and Ad Groups in order to make sure that their goals continue to be aligned with their client’s expectations.
To be effective, there is a need for a proper negative keyword strategy that can monitor the search terms in terms of their “daily” performance.
- It’s not easy building an ad group using a single keyword
One of the most effective ways of gaining control over the whole campaign is through building single keyword ad groups (SKAG). The strategy allows for landing pages and ad copy which are highly focused. This allows the quality scores to go as high as they can be.
Even though creating SKAG in structured campaigns seems like a reasonable choice, the recent change might make things a bit difficult to protect the SKAG structure. However, the recent changes raise some serious concerns like how to optimize single keyword ad copy when the same keyword was supposed to match different queries?
New keywords that were not targeted in the past could actually convert.
Given the above, showing ads searches that offer the same intent might have the potential to deliver greater opportunities for tracking down other high performing keywords, which may have been overlooked in the past.
Less time in creating granular ad groups.
As it is pretty evident that Google understands which search terms have the same meaning, they will show their ads as a result with the new changes. Now marketers don’t have to be concerned about adding keywords within the ad copy, although we don’t currently know what the possible effects of this might be to other metrics such as Quality Score and others. This is something that will need to be monitored, at which time adjustments can be made. This “catch-all” approach of Google’s might help in saving time when creating granular ad groups that contain just one or two keywords within each campaign.
Using it alongside a tool like keyword insertion could prove to be a fruitful addition to the mix as it can significantly help with reach regarding campaigns with lower impression, in turn, making the ads appear increasingly relevant without the additional effort.
Before you start hyperventilating, it is recommended that you undertake an aggressive approach towards planning for this change by keeping a mindful eye on your ad accounts as these new changes begin to unravel. It’s only through knowledge and dedicated testing that we can ever truly understand the reasoning behind any number of changes that Google throws our way. This one is no different. Happy testing!
Authorship: Ed C.