What's Changed With Close Variants on Phrase Match & BMM and What it Means for You - Spaceboost Blog
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Close Variants for Phrase Match

What’s Changed With Close Variants on Phrase Match & BMM and What it Means for You

Yes, it’s happened. Just like they did on Exact Match in 2018, Google have extended close variants on Phrase Match and Broad Match Modifiers. This article is here to explain the new reality for PPC Marketing Managers – what you need to know about the latest in close variants, and what this change means for your campaigns.

What are Close Variants on Google Ads?

Since 2014, Google has enforced close variants option on all keyword match types. Close variants mean that certain variations between your keyword and the search query typed in will still allow your ad to be triggered. The list of close variants has been expanding since then. As of last week, here is a bare bones checklist of what they include:

  • Misspellings
  • Singular or plural
  • Stemmings (“ing, “ed”, “er”, etc.)
  • Abbreviations
  • One word split into two words or vice versa 
  • Accents
  • And words that Google judges to have the same meaning as words in your keyword.

 

The latest change is that “same-meaning words” are now considered a close variant to Phrase Match and Broad Match Modifiers – a change that has applied to Exact Match since autumn 2018. Here is the full technical description of what can constitute a Close Variant.  

 

Why do Close Variants Exist?

This change is happening because, as Google’s Machine Learning algorithms continue to gain pace, the predictions they can make as to how to correctly match up query intent to keywords that advertisers are bidding on are getting better. This is Google heading towards a future in which their algorithms can interpret keywords more like guidelines which they can use to match up ads to searches which might not otherwise have triggered them.

 

What is the Change in Close Variants for Phrase Match and Broad Match Modifier?

Here is Google’s example for how the new Close Variants will apply to Broad Match Modifiers:

BMM close variants - What's Changed With Close Variants on Phrase Match & BMM and What it Means for You

And here is the example for how it will affect Phrase Match:

Phrase Match close variants - What's Changed With Close Variants on Phrase Match & BMM and What it Means for You

How Will These Close Variants Affect my Google Ads Campaigns?

According to Google’s announcement, this will be rolled out “in the coming weeks” in English, and in more languages during 2020. Goole predicts 3-4% more clicks and conversions on these keywords, with 85% of these clicks predicted to be ‘new’ – meaning that your original keywords would not have triggered them without close variants.

For the more control-oriented among you, this could take some getting used to – and in the near future, it will be worth checking how many of these new clicks are in fact as profitable as those achieved with your original keywords – but don’t worry, here are some extra resources to make sure you are best placed to make the most out of this change:

And, as a bonus aside, here’s what Google said about preventing keywords from competing against each other as a result of this new, expanded, close variant reality:

“If a query currently matches to an exact, phrase, or broad match modifier keyword that exists in your account, we’ll prevent that query from matching to a different phrase or broad match modifier keyword that’s now eligible for the same auction as a result of this update.” – Google Ads

WRITTEN BY
Maria Donadeu
Head of SAAS Acquisition, Spaceboost.
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