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How to deal with Google’s latest Changes in AdWords Close Variant Matching

Since the end of September, Google is rolling out a new change to the matching behavior of your keywords. AdWords now requires using close variants for all exact and phrase keywords and it is not possible to exclude close variants from your traffic any longer.

Recently, many advertisers have seen a huge boost in the number of impressions since the rollout of the latest update and there is a high chance that your ads are shown for non-desired search terms.

Impressions, last 30 days, e-commerce shop

Impressions, last 30 days, e-commerce shop

AdWords Script to reverse new ‘close variant’ matching

A new AdWords script to reverse Google’s new ‘close variant’ matching was posted on many PPC blogs during the past weeks. We had a close look into this script and came to the following conclusion:

The script checks the search term reports of the last seven days of your account on a daily basis and automatically adds all search terms that were triggered by a ‘close variant’ term of your keyword as a negative exact keyword to your adgroups or campaigns.

In our opinion, the script achieves the desired result to restore the old behavior of your keywords before the AdWords update. However, we have major concerns to hand over control of the negative management to a fully automated script without having any opportunity of controlling the output.

By using this script, the chance of cutting off large parts of your desired traffic is rather high. Depending on your account structure and the quality of the keyword portfolio, you might exclude search terms that were not booked as exact keywords, but have been triggered by the respective broad keyword. This traffic might get blocked by the script, without having a further opportunity to check the newly booked negative keywords.


Do not rely on automated scripts – Do it yourself!

Given what has been discussed before, we advise our customers to focus on expanding their portfolio of exact keywords by using the Campaign Suite and manually adding negative keywords from the search term reports instead of using the script.

Since Google still prefers the exact keyword to the close variant, the old manageability of the account can be restored by the subsequent adding of all relevant plural forms and misspellings to your account.


Step 1: Understand user queries

With Google’s latest update, it is more important to understand the difference between keywords and search terms than ever before. By analyzing your customer’s queries, you can get insights into what people are doing when searching for your business.

Do not forget to add the keyword column to your search term reports to understand where your close variants come from and which keywords got triggered.


Step 2: Determine new positive and negative keywords

Look for prominent, high volume search terms in your search term report by defining a relevant threshold for impressions and check the keyword column to understand which keyword got triggered.

If you discover unwanted keyword variations, add them as negative exact keywords to your campaigns or adgroups to control your traffic and eliminate poorly performing queries.

Determine new positive and negative keywords

Determine new positive and negative keywords


Step 3: Add new combinations to Campaign Suite

By using the deltamethod Campaign Suite, you can simply add new keywords more efficiently than using AdWords Editor. Open the respective table in your Campaign Suite account and add the search terms to the alias column. All relevant keyword combinations will be generated automatically and you will easily be able to add them to your AdWords account.


More interesting information on the new ‘close variant’ matching can be found in the latest t3n article by deltamethod Managing Partner Elias Russezki (in German only) here.


by Jonas Anlauf

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One Response to "How to deal with Google’s latest Changes in AdWords Close Variant Matching"

  • Kyrill Danilov
    24. October 2014 - 18:50

    This was very helpful, thank you, Jonas!

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