Published: 22 August 2014

Last week (14th August) Google AdWords announced that it is going retire pure exact match targeting as of the end of September in favour of close variant targeting. Currently users could opt out of close variant targeting and use exact match targeting in order to have full control of their campaigns but at the end of next month, this will no longer be the case.

Close variant targeting is an advance settings feature that allows you to match on misspellings or vary close variants on the keywords within that campaign. It is helpful if you are looking get more reach and to ensure you don’t miss important search terms related to the keywords you have selected for targeting. Each campaign automatically has this featured activated and it requires deactivation at the campaign settings level to turn it off.

The vast majority of campaigns will already have this activated. For those that don’t, once the account is migrated you will likely discover some new terms that you weren’t aware of that will become important, which is one benefit of close variant change.

However, some drawbacks are that you can have a set of keywords that will now trigger your advert that have various different meanings. An example of this may be the following:

  • Children’s trainers
  • Children trainers
  • Child trainers
  • Childrens trainers
Here we can see the possible different meanings; is it sports shoes or is it a trainer for children who are perhaps misbehaving? This was previously not a problem as with exact match targeting you could target a keyword knowing that your advert would only be shown if that searched was typed in exactly in that manner, including spelling.

It may seem like the change to close variant matching is all negative but it is a positive move in the sense that turning it off and relying on exact and phrase match meant that the man management and time to manage the account was very high. This will now be gone and will allow for more time to focus on other areas of optimisation like focusing on advert copy and landing page optimisation that will become even more important to qualifying traffic.

We’d be interested to hear of your experiences and if you are concerned about the switch so feel free to add your comments.

Josh Whiten

Digital Marketing Director


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