On April 17, Google announced new matching behavior on AdWords for Exact and Phrase Match keywords.

So what does that mean in the world of pay-per-click (PPC) marketing?  For one, it means that PPC campaign managers everywhere will no longer have to create variations of Exact and Phrase Match keywords, like these:

  • Including both singular and plural
  • Including misspelled versions
  • Including versions with all “stems” (-ing, -er, etc.)
  • Including a version with and without accents
  • Including abbreviations of words

This change, which will be rolled out over the next few weeks to all Google AdWords advertisers could have a big impact, especially for campaigns that already had all of the above variations built into their campaigns. For example, what once were long-tail, cheap keywords will suddenly have some new competition due to this change in matching behavior.  This means the Cost-Per-Click (CPC) will likely go up for these low volume/high quality keywords, and some of the “slam dunk” opportunities we once enjoyed will be gone.  The impact on ROI is going to be interesting to watch, to say the least.

The Search Terms report is going to become even more important to monitor and use to create Negative Matches to help keep the quality of your pay-per-click traffic at an optimal level.  If you’re not familiar with that report, here’s a quick rundown:

To access your Search Terms report, first log in to your AdWords account, then click on the Keywords tab.  Next, go to the ‘See Search Terms…’ button that is located just below the graph (shown below).  Click on ‘All’ to view the actual queries that users have typed in to trigger your ads.

Google AdWords Search Terms Report

This report is great for finding valuable long-tail keywords, as well as creating Negative Match keywords to help improve the quality of your PPC traffic.  If you haven’t already, now ist he time to get familiar with this report.

For those who still want absolute control of their keywords, don’t worry! This option can be changed in the campaign settings section (it will be located under ‘Advanced Settings).

I’d love to hear feedback from other paid search marketers as we watch these changes roll out and see how it’s impacting paid search campaigns.  It’s hard to gauge whether the positives will outweigh the negatives:  It’s going to help us increase ad exposure to smaller lists, but we still (always) have to know exactly what keywords are triggering the ads.


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