Keyword research strategies in a close-variant world
Revisiting your keyword research approach is essential to preparing for imminent match type changes. Here are some considerations for a successful keyword research strategy in a close-variant world.
Google once again has disrupted the search marketing community by announcing exact match close variants will now include same-meaning variations. As a result, marketers putting all their chips into exact match keywords will have to shift their bidding, structure and keyword strategies to avoid wasted spend. The writing has been on the wall since 2014, and while the motive and benefactors are debated, the importance of focusing on intent rather than granular, exact keyword sets is clear.
Revisiting your keyword research approach and tactics is not only a suggested regular optimization task but also an essential step in preparation for match type changes rolling out in October. The process of keyword research is already changing, as it’s no longer necessary to launch with a hefty keyword list full of variations.
Rather, keyword research has become iterative and more valuable post-launch as needed. Following are some pertinent points of consideration when conducting keyword research for more effective spend and results.
Reviewing your PPC structures
For pay-per-click (PPC) practitioners, exact match becoming less important can seem discouraging. It can also bring challenges surrounding intent in B2B spaces. The new reality is that as Google improves its machine learning, marketers must adapt by combining keyword sculpting and research with many other available corresponding intent-centric signals. Think demographics, site engagement or browser history, location or proximity, time of day, income targeting and so on.
First and foremost, you should review performance within accounts and revisit your management approach. If accounts contain predominantly exact match, look to understand how close variant changes could affect performance or intent based on:
- Keyword order.
- Multiple-word keywords.
- Addition of a location or preposition within a keyword.
- Synonyms, close or similar-word variants.
Findings and responses will inherently dust off the topic of how the current campaign structure strategy aligns with performance and match type deviations. Remember, Google’s optimization levers work best when sufficient data is flowing through.
Don’t fret over giving Google the full reign over an account. Instead, focus on how consolidation (paired with “safety nets”) could bring benefits to the overall program. Single keyword ad groups (SKAGs) are powerful for personalization, granularity and quality scores, but be careful the contextual changes haven’t made you compete against yourself.