Moving beyond their recent fascination with pandas and penguins (can "project platypus" be far away?), the "do no evil" crew is at it again. This time around, team Google will be releasing an update to their keyword matching behavior, adding a "near match" element to that algorithm which should aid marketers in increasing exposure for their ads.
Google Knows User Intent?
According to the Inside AdWords post,"Google's organic search systems detect and compensate for misspellings and close variants. We know 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 we're extending this behavior to ads."
If properly executed, "Near Match" could provide a nice boost in exposure and traffic to existing campaigns. It could also limit the amount of keyword research time needed to launch an advertisement by triggering user's offers on common misspellings,plurals, etc. Less time building, more time earning (great for newbies :)). What's not to like?
Could "Near Match" Be A Risky Proposition?
Well, for starters, not all misspellings are created equal, and most SEMs will likely have their most effective misspellings and/or plurals in their account already. While the additional exposure can result in more leads, the keyword variations delivering your visits will likely result in more ad spend that needs to be accounted for. Although Google's own post claims that the new matching behavior won't become active until mid-May,PPC Specialist Melissa Mackey found out recently, that Google's Near Match algorithm leaves something to be desired. She wrote,"Just yesterday I was reviewing some search queries for VoIP keywords, and apparently Google thinks that's the same thing as 'voice recognition apps' and 'cheap prison telephone voice'.
But, at least we have phrase and exact match to counteract the silly broad matching. Right? Wrong."
Google's intent to apply this new matching option to Exact match keywords also strikes me a the answer to a question no one is asking. Exact match keywords are set as such for a reason. From a company claiming to understand intent, it seems like a shortsighted to meddle with the exposure for these terms. If the user wanted variety, they would choose make use of the existing Phrase and Broad match settings, and not to trust Google to know what is best for them. This decision only fuels the grumbling by some that this new matching tweak is nothing more than a "money grab" by Google to appease their investors.
The Bottom Line
While an increase in click revenue will likely result from these changes, they could also serve to make AdWords that much more accessible to new marketers. Given the option, most experienced marketers will likely avoid the "near match" conundrum by opting out in the settings. However, if the algorithm works, like in any other case, user adoption will follow. If results mirror Melissa Mackey's above, however, Google will likely find itself in the middle of storm of protest from marketers "in the know" who call it like they see it.
This should be interesting.