If you've logged into your Google AdWords account recently, you may well have seen this message at the top of the screen:
The short version of this is that Google is changing the way Exact match and Phrase match keyword options operate.
Previously, an Exact match would be, umm, exact. So, if you bid on a keyword in square brackets – [Your Keyword] then that is the only keyword for which your advert could be shown. With the changes planned for May 2012, Google has now expanded both Exact and Phrase match to include “close variants”:
From Google's own help page on this, an example:
This seems safe enough but I'm sure there'll be some interesting variations found. Keep an eye on those search term reports!
Google will obviously present this as an improvement for advertisers and, perhaps it will be. A cynic may argue it is simply a way of boosting its already burgeoning coffers with yet more click revenue from inexperienced AdWords users who blindly follow all of Google's recommendations without taking control of their own account. And breathe…
But don't be alarmed! As with most things Google do, you have a choice. When this rolls out, you will be able to turn this option off at the campaign level. A bit of experimentation should be the order of the day first to see if this option is working better for you.
The main thing though, as always, is to monitor your account closely. You should be doing this already but make sure that you dig deeper below the surface of your AdWords account to really understand what is happening. One of my key recommendations here would be to check your search queries regularly.
A search query is basically the actual term for which you have incurred a click, i.e. have been charged. Some people mistakenly assume that they only get charged for the actual keyword they are bidding on. If your account is largely made up of broad match keywords with hardly any negatives, be prepared for one or two surprises the first time you run this!
You can schedule your search query report to run automatically and get sent to you via email if you wish. This is a critical AdWords report and my recommendation is that you run it weekly to review the previous seven days. Act upon what you see, i.e. positive keywords as well as negatives, and your account will progressively improve.
Get in touch if you need any help.