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!