By Carolina Beltrán

Today, your AdWords keyword match­ing options are:

  1. Broad Match (the default): Allows your ad to show on similar phrases and rele­vant vari­a­tions. Broad Match Modi­fier, intro­duced in May 2010, can be used to further refine your broad match keywords; Think of Broad Match Modi­fier as a way to give keywords greater reach than Phrase Match and more control than Broad Match.
  2. Phrase Match:  With Phrase Match, your ad is eligi­ble to appear when a user searches on the exact phrase, with the words in exact order. It can also appear for searches that contain other terms as long as it includes the exact phrase you’ve spec­i­fied. One of the earli­est tricks I learned for Phrase Match is to think of the words holding hands. I’m serious.  They can hang out with other words, but they always have to hold hands. For example, say your keyword is “ice cream”. This keyword ad on Phrase Match would appear for searches to mint ice cream, choco­late ice cream, even ice cream sand­wich – but ice and cream always hold hands. It works for me.
  3. Exact Match: Allows your ad to show for searches that match your keyword or keyword phrase exclu­sively. You bid on ice cream, your ads may show for only ice cream.
  4. Nega­tive Match:  This match type is used to limit less qual­i­fied traffic. If you use Broad Match, you should use Nega­tive Match to cut off traffic you don’t want.

*In each ring, the keyword shown also matches the searches inside the smaller rings.

Come mid-May, you’ll have a new option: Near Match

This new match type enables us to extend the reach of Exact and Phrase Match Keywords in your AdWords account with little effort. It allows cover­age of plural, misspelling, close rewrite abbre­vi­a­tions, and acronym vari­ants of all Phrase and Exact Match keywords in an account. It does not match out to synonyms, nor does it change the order of words in a Phrase Match keyword. It also doesn’t allow addi­tional keywords to be targeted for Exact Match Keywords. Google claims Near Match gener­ates addi­tional click volume and cover­age, incre­men­tal to current Exact and Phrase Match keywords.

Some exam­ples of Near Match expan­sions include:

  • [Italy vaca­tion] extends to [Italian vaca­tion]
  •  “red floor­ing” extends to “red floors”
  • Close rewrites: “restau­rant NYC” extends to “restau­rant New York City”, [comedy impro­vi­sa­tion show] to [comedy improv show]

Near Match broad­en­ings will be visible in the Search Query Report. They will be cate­go­rized under the Broad Match match type. Conver­sions and clicks will be attrib­uted to the Exact or Phrase Match keywords that are actu­ally listed as keywords in the account.

If you’re confused, don’t worry. Consider these three exact and phrase match keywords in AdWords:

[water­proof sunblock]     “bollard cover”     [single serving coffee maker]

Now have a look at these two rows of search queries:
1. water­proof sunblock     buy bollard cover     single serving coffee maker
2. water­poof sunblock      buy bollard covers    single serve coffee maker

Today, only the search queries in row 1 are consid­ered a match and allowed to trigger an ad that can appear in the results. The close vari­ants in the second row are not consid­ered a match by AdWords, despite the simi­lar­ity in user intent. This will change in mid-May; If your account is opted into Near Match, Row 2 will be allow­able expan­sions to your Exact and Phrase Match keywords.

Google research indi­cates at least 7% of search queries contain a misspelling, and the longer the query, the higher the rate. Even with perfect spelling, two people search­ing for the same thing often use slightly differ­ent vari­a­tions, such as “kid scoot­ers” and “kid’s scooter” or “bamboo floor” and “bamboo floor­ing.” Google’s organic search systems already detect and compen­sate for misspellings and close vari­ants.

Google believes users are happier when they get search results that reflect their intent and help them achieve their desired action, even if it’s not a precise match for what they’ve typed so they are extend­ing this behav­ior to ads.

Early exper­i­ments looked at the impact on adver­tis­ers getting a third or more of their clicks from phrase or exact match. On average, the new match­ing behav­ior increased AdWords search clicks by 3%, with compa­ra­ble CPCs. If you prefer to main­tain the current match­ing behav­ior in your campaign, you’ll still have that option. In fact, we’ve opted all of our clients’ accounts out of Near Match already. Why?

Search Discovery doesn’t test a new feature with your money unless we know it is well-received by multi­ple types of adver­tis­ers and there is a good amount of data to support using it. Of course Google will say their new match type increases search clicks by 3%, but we don’t know who they tested their new tech­nol­ogy on and what the perfor­mance of their account was prior.

The very foun­da­tion of some of the bid strate­gies we use is match type. We at Search Discovery believe there is value in build­ing a super compre­hen­sive list of keywords using Exact, Phrase and Broad match types to allow for strate­gic bidding. Near Match does appear to be a time­saver – if you’re lazy about build­ing keyword lists. Because Near Match expands into plurals, misspellings, close abbre­vi­a­tions and acronyms, it will save time build­ing most any keyword list, but we’d argue that you need to include those vari­a­tions in your keyword list to lower your overall CPC.

The fact remains – no one knows how this new addi­tion to the match type family will perform. It will certainly be inter­est­ing to watch and report back to you.

Need more infor­ma­tion about Near Match? Contact the Search Discovery media team today!