Google just announced that all exact match and phrase matched words will be treated as ‘variation’ or ‘near’ match starting in September.
I want to show you why this is an absolutely terrible idea if Google does not let you opt out of this (which it does today).
What is Variation Match?
If you are unfamiliar with this setting, it’s neither good nor bad – it is account and maybe even keyword specific whether it is good or bad for you.
If this setting is turned on, then your exact match and phrase match keywords can show for ‘variations’ of those words. These are commonly misspellings, singulars, plurals, etc.
This is a campaign level setting:
When you navigate to your search query data, you will see (close variant) next to the match type indicating that this isn’t your keyword, but a variation of that keyword.
Determining if this is a good or bad setting
The easiest way to see if this is a good or bad setting for you is to use a pivot table and view your data by match type:
In this particular account, close variations have much lower conversion rates and much higher CPAs than their actual match type.
Advertiser’s Are Slowly Losing Control
Variation match isn’t always bad, there are times it can be good to use variation match. However, there was choice.
In fact, in this account variation match isn’t all bad. It uses a Search/Discovery or Alpha/Beta structure. Variation match is turned on in the Beta campaigns and turned off in the Alpha campaigns.
If you want to learn how to audit your keyword, please see Part 8 of the Audit series: The Complete AdWords Audit Part 8: Keywords and Match Types.
Finally, if you want control – please tell Google how bad of an idea this is. Loss of control is never good. Mobile control was lost with Enhanced Campaigns, and now you’re losing control over your match types. This will further erode your ability to control costs and conversions within AdWords.