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Are You Ready For Google’s New Keyword Targeting Update?

Google Claims New Update *Could* Drive 4% More Conversions

Although social media tends to grab more column inches that search engine marketing (SEM) nowadays, SEM continues to grab more dollars.

Paid search has dominated digital investment for the past two decades and is up 10% year on year, according to Kenshoo’s latest Quarterly Trends Report.

However, although paid search is still chugging along nicely, in terms of growth and investment, SEM strategies may need a bit of a rethink as we head into the latter portion of 2019.

Over the coming weeks, market-leader Google will be rolling out an update as to how paid search campaigns are triggered, via keyword matching.

The impact will likely be quite far-reaching, impacting everything from ad copy-writing to campaign structure and evaluation.

Following a similar update, Google introduced in September 2018, Google is expanding keyword matching, for ad targeting, to include close variants for phrase match and broad match modifier.

Google claims this update will see advertisers who use broad match modifier and phrase match keywords achieve 3-4% more clicks and conversions on these keywords.

And, of those new clicks, 85% are expected to be net-new on average – meaning that they’re not covered by existing keywords.

Happy days? Maybe.

Understanding Google Keyword Match Types

Keyword match types help control which searches on Google can trigger your ad.

Take, for example, a query like ‘free English classes Melbourne’.

You could use broad-match to show your ad to a wide audience, or you could use exact match to hone in on specific groups of customers.

Broad-match is the default option for search ads; however unless you’re a noob or have money to burn, few should pursue broad-match aggressively.

Whilst broad-match drives a high search visibility, relatively speaking, it generates a lot of waste and sub-standard click through rates. Which in turn, drives up costs.

As such, most advertisers tend to lean towards other modes of keyword matching:

  1. Broad match modifier
    • Similar to broad-match, except that the broad match modifier option only shows ads in searches which include the words designated with a plus sign (+women’s hats) or close variations of them
  2. Phrase match
    • Ads may show on searches that match a phrase or are close variations of that phrase, with additional words before or after
  3. Exact match
    • Ads may show on searches that match the exact term or are close variations of that exact term

Negative matching is also used commonly to inhibit ad triggering and is important for maintaining campaign health. Weeding out inappropriate searches and clicks, which saves money and reduces longer term diminishing returns.

Better Results, But It’ll Need Close Management

The changes to broad match modifier and phrase match follow a similar loosening which Google rolled out last year for exact match keyword targeting.

According to Google, 15% of searches daily are unique…

Take deodorant, for example.

In 2018, Google saw people search for deodorant in more than 150,000 unique ways. That’s a lot of different ways to say the same thing.

The problem is, especially with the rise of voice search and visual search (to a much lesser extent), that existing campaign restrictions via broad match modifier, phrase match and exact match miss many of these.

Google’s latest update will now see all ads triggering for close variants of chosen keywords that, while being different, share the same meaning as your keyword, as per Google’s broad match modifer example below:

  • Gardening business uses +lawn +mowing +service as a keyword

    • Prior ad triggers:

      • “services to mow my lawn”  

      • “lawn mowing and edging service”

    • New ad triggers:

      • “grass cutting and gardening services”

      • “rates for services that cut your grass”

Google’s machine learning systems can seemingly infer intent and spare advertisers from creating exhaustive keyword lists in order to get their ads to trigger on relevant queries.

All in all, the move if managed carefully should result in better outcomes for marketers. However, given how costly SEM can be, a mishandling could be somewhat painful.

Marketers are advised to monitor campaign performance in the coming weeks, adjusting as needed.

 

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